TONY ON TV: Travel the world with Michael Palin

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DURING one of my frequent visits to The Works in Mansfield I espied a book that looked ideal for saving on travel to near and far with locations rarely seen in holiday brochures.

‘100 Places You Will Never Visit-- The World’s Most Secret Locations’ is a quirky mix of the secretive, sinister and surprising, be it the vaults of Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland for ‘Da Vinci Code’ fans; ADX Florence, said to be the Alcatraz of the Rockies where Abu Hamza might be sent; the British Government’s listening centre, GCHQ at Cheltenham, or the high security safe in Atlanta, USA, containing the original recipe for Coca-Cola.

Of course these, and many of the others featured in this lavishly illustrated, 256-page book, can be discovered by the really determined, but if you want to let someone else do the hard work there’s no better traveller than ex-Monty Python Michael Palin who, no doubt looking ahead to the World Cup and Rio Olympics, adds Brazil to his passport for the first time.

‘Brazil With Michael Palin’ (BBC1, Wednesday) is a four-part tour of the Earth’s fifth largest country, and the eighth of his TV travelogues, which over the past 25 years have taken viewers around the world in 80 days, across the Sahara and to the top of the Himalayas.

Tonight’s opener features a look at the fast-disappearing world of the Brazilian cowboy (vaquero), but for those who hanker for the heyday of the western try tuning into ‘Hatfields & McCoys’ (Channel 5, Thursday), an award-winning, five-part, mini-series set in the aftermath of the American Civil War, which stars Kevin Costner as “Devil” Anse Hatfield and Bill Paxton as Randall McCoy, two former Confederate soldiers, who in peacetime find that they and their families divided by a bitter conflict over land on the border of West Virginia and Kentucky.

However, the Americans don’t have it all their own way as British actress Sarah Parish -- of ‘Mistress’ and ‘Blackpool’ fame, and currently playing heart surgeon Jenny Bremner in ‘Monroe’ (ITV1, Monday) -- goes back in time to play Levicy, the long-suffering wife of timber man Hatfield, in this highly watchable drama which sees Costner recapturing some of the screen success that may have eluded him in recent movies.


Freaky Sleepers -- Thursday, Channel 4. Night terrors and worse are covered in this must-see programme about the increase in extreme sleep disorders in Britain.

The Graham Norton Show -- Friday, BBC1. It’s a James Bond theme show with guests Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and Javier Bardem celebrating the release of the latest 007 movie, ‘Skyfall,’ the 23rd in the series. The film, if it needed any more publicity, is also featured in a 10-minute special with cast and crew earlier in the evening on Film4 at 8.50pm.