BBC 2, weekday evenings 6.30 -7 pm

We are enjoying this third series (as we have the first two). Interesting, informative and harmless – suitable for tea time but not really the most convenient time to watch.

The premise is quite simple. The presenter, Micheal Portillo, goes on a number of train journeys around Great Britain inspired by a 19th century guidebook/timetable written by Bradshaw. We are told about a variety of historical incidents, social changes, engineering advances and inventions that helped to mould the railways of the 19th century which in turn helped shaped our world. While some of the history is perhaps unsavoury it is presented without sensationalism which makes it more acceptable for family viewing.

I find it appealing because some of the time I can say, “Yes, I’ve been there” and annoy other viewers with my little bit of knowledge; and rest of the time  think (or maybe say out loud) “I never knew that” or “I’d like to go there.” The other attraction is that although the series is a journey with a chronological order, each programme does stand on its own so missing some, or just dipping in and out of the series is not a problem. You don’t have to be an avid viewer to enjoy the series.

I think overall this gets four stars.

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