At one point, when a group of Chinamen raise a toast to Chairman Zedong Mao, Paul Merton raises his glass to his own chairman, Nicholas Parsons. This is a reference to the fact that Nicholas Parsons is chairman on the BBC Radio 4 comedy panel game "Just a Minute", on which Paul Merton is a regular. See more »
Travel through China with first-time visitor, comedian Paul Merton
Well, let's start with a comparison: Michael Palin has had a good lock on these "travel with me" documentaries for a number of years, but as refreshing as his were in the beginning, they have become a predictable and seem to be a bit "I can do this but you probably never will"; Paul Merton probably best known for his work on Have I Got News For You and Room 101 provides a fresh look and feel and one more in line with what the average traveler can experience. Paul has never been to China, doesn't speak the language, and has a look of perplexity about him when hit with new situations. But, the man is a very intelligent comedian and puts a good skew on everything that happens to him or in front of him. He seems to know when to be serious and when to make light of a situation.
His six-week travels are compressed into four 1-hour programs, each fairly well paced and full of interesting things. The sort of things and experiences that I imagine I would have if I were to visit China. With the same amount of "I'm loving what I'm seeing, but I feel a bit uncomfortable and slightly out of place" that most people would experience. And, he tends to go the same sort of places I would go and you would too (probably) on your first visit.
All in all this series is a good bit of fun. It isn't as magnificently photographed as a Palin epic, but it is well worth your while to search it out in repeats or when it comes out on DVD.
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