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Monday, January 10, 2005

Pilot Guides - My Favourite TV Show

My husband will attest that I am one of these people that can eat, drink, talk and do travel pretty much all the time. I just love travel, I read books on travel all the time, subscribe to numerous travel magazines - in several languages, as you can imagine. I visit and research travel websites, of course I talk to travelers and naturally I watch travel shows on TV! I am wondering if there is actually a saturation point for me at which travel loses interest. Well, I haven't seen one so far yet..

So, talking about TV shows, I thought I'd share with you my favourite travel show on TV and one of my guilty viewing indulgences: PILOT GUIDES!

In Canada "Pilot Guides" airs on the Outdoor Life Network, usually on weekdays at 10 pm. It's a TV show that is produced in Great Britain by Pilot Productions. According to their website, www.pilotguides.com, they are "an independent TV production company who have produced specialist TV shows for 9 years covering travel, food and history. The company and its presenters have won numerous awards and achieved fame in the field of off-the-beaten track travel TV with the TV show Pilot Guides (known as Globe Trekker in the USA and was previously broadcast under the name Lonely Planet), a show which celebrates the best, newest and most exciting travel hotspots in the world. Other successful shows in their catalogue include the travel and food show Planet Food, the adventure and trekking show Treks in a Wild World and shopping and the travel series Bazaar.

There are now more than 100 episodes of Pilot Guides that cover every continent, and what I really like about them is that they present adventure travel in a light-hearted, humorous and even educational way. In virtually every location the presenters go off the beaten path, meet the locals and do some crazy things. In many cases this involves eating some strange-looking (and, as I am sure, strange-tasting) local delicacies, celebrating with the locals, and getting introduced to their customs and traditions. Trekking, hiking, mountain biking or scuba-diving are usually involved as well. All shows have a bit of geographical and historical background and therefore have good informational content as well.

At the top of my favourite 3 presenters is Ian Wright, a quirky Englishman with a pretty heavy accent, a great sense of humour and absolutely no hesitations to taste any kind of native dish. Ian now has his own TV show: Ian Wright Live with its own website, www.ianwrightlive.com , where he shares clips and travel stories with a live interactive audience.

Beware though - sometimes this may turn into a sheep-eyeball-eating contest where Ian invites somebody from the audience to recreate a travel experience that he may have had in some far away country. Obviously this person then has the pleasure of eating a culinary sample of this particular dish, right in front of a live TV audience. Here you can link to an interview that demonstrates that Ian Wright is a rather interesting and surprisingly multi-dimensional fellow.

Megan McCormack and Justine Shapiro are the two other presenters who are willing to explore every location to the fullest in local activities and adventures. They also show great sensitivity in presenting the local cultures, even in politically explosive areas, whether it be in places like Israel or the Middle East. Check out an interesting interview with Justine as well.

Even though I personally haven't done any real adventure travel in exotic locations, watching one of these shows makes me feel like I am out on the road with the presenters, on the back of the truck hitching a ride, or interacting with the locals. It's perfect for us armchair travelers, who don't have the time or money to get away when we want. Watching Pilot Guides is one of those guilty pleasures that give me a wonderful escapist feeling when I am a bit stressed out and when I need a little break from everyday life..

Related articles:
Ian Wright - Live in Toronto - a chance to see my idol in person...
Feeling like a kid again
- when I attended the Outdoor Adventure Show
Interview with Chris Ronneseth - Adventure travel expert
Interview with Jeff Minthorn - Publisher of a magazine on adventure and discovery travel



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