Travelling is difficult for many of us at the moment, if not impossible. Thankfully, we can still see the world through our TV. This Friday sees BBC Two’s Pilgrimage return for its third series. Here’s our lowdown on who’s in it and where they’re going.
Following the success of the first two series, The Road to Santiago and The Road to Rome, this time a group of celebrities take The Road to Istanbul, as they tackle the Sultan’s Trail, an ancient path crossing Eastern Europe between the Austrian capital, Vienna, and the Turkish capital, Istanbul. The entire path is 1,400 miles long, but the cast pick up the trail in Belgrade, capital city of Serbia, crossing Bulgaria and the Balkans before reaching Turkey. Staying in the most basic of hostels and hotels, they travel sections of the historic, 16th-century route by foot and rail.
WHO’S IN PILGRIMAGE: ROAD TO ISTANBUL?
The cast of the new series of Pilgrimage are an eclectic bunch with an amazing amount of TV experience between them, although not much that would prepare them for trekking across the Balkans!
Those you can expect to see are former One Show and Match of the Day host Adrian Chiles, former Conservative MP and I’m a Celebrity contestant Edwina Currie, world champion javelin thrower Fatima Whitbread, blind entrepreneur and television presenter Amar Latif, former Trigger Happy TV star Dom Joly, TV and radio presenter Mim Shaikh, and Pauline McLynn, best known for her roles as Mrs Doyle in the iconic sitcom, Father Ted and Libby Croker in Shameless.
WHAT HAPPENS IN PILGRIMAGE?
The seven make their way over parts of the historic trail. All are from different religious backgrounds — Chiles is Catholic, Currie Jewish, Whitbread Christian, Latif and Shaikh Muslim, Joly and McLynn strong atheists — and spend two weeks together backpacking over what has become known as a ‘path of peace’, encountering different religions along the way. For some, such as Fatima Whitbread, it becomes a chance to reflect and deepen their faith. For others, like Dom Joly and Pauline McLynn, it only serves to strengthen their feelings towards religion — at one point Joly leaves a church service midway through, saying “I get the gist”.
WHY THE ROAD TO ISTANBUL?
During the 16th century, Suleiman the Magnificent, then head of the Ottoman Empire, set out from Turkey to conquer other territories. His army made it as far as Vienna before being stopped. The route he took, which covers nine modern-day countries, is The Sultan’s Path, preserved today as a safe meeting place for people of all faiths and religions.
WHERE CAN I WATCH PILGRIMAGE: THE ROAD TO ISTANBUL?
The new series of Pilgrimage begins on Friday 24th March 2020 on BBC Two at 9 pm. There are three episodes, each one hour long, which will air weekly.