BBC launches 'Sahara with Michael Palin'

MUMBAI: BBC World is launching a new four-part series rom 4 Novemver, which sees Michael Palin's journey unfold across the Sahara Desert revealing a huge and diverse range of cultures, landscapes and a long history of civilisation, trade, commerce and conquest stretching from the ancient Egyptians to the oil-rich Islamic republics of today.

Starting and finishing his adventure in Gibraltar, Palin crosses the Straits to Morocco where he visits the main cities before traversing Atlas Mountains.

The first episode, A Line In The Sand would premiere Saturday 4 November at 2:10 pm and would be re-telecsted on Saturday 4 November at 10:10 pm, Sunday 5 November at 5:10 am, 10:10 am and 6:10 pm.

The first episode would see Michael's journey begin in Gibraltar where he crosses the Straits to Tangier in Morocco. After pausing in Fez and Marrakech and crossing the High Atlas he enters the real desert. He is then guided to the Mauritanian border by the Sahawari people, where he climbs aboard the longest train in the world, breaking his journey at Chinguetti.

The second episode, Destination Timbuktu would be aired on Saturday 11 November at 2:10 pm and re-telecasted on: Saturday 11 November at 11:10 pm, Sunday 12 November at 5:10 am, 10:10 pm and 6:10 pm.

The second episode would see Michael briefly visiting Senegal, Bamako, Dogon and Djenne on the way to his destination Timbuktu. Celebrating the Muslim Tabaski feast in the city of Djenne with a man called Pygmy, and securing a passage on a cargo boat with a Norwegian missionary called Kristin, the rest of the journey down the Niger River to Timbuktu seems plain sailing till the boat runs aground a day out of its destination.

The third episode, Absolute Desert would be aired on Saturday 18 November at 2:10 pm and re-telecasted on Saturday 18 November at 11:10 pm, Sunday 19 November at 5:10 am, 10:10 pm and 6:10 pm.

In the third episode, Michael reaches the city of Timbuktu. He wanders through the rubble that is 21 century Timbuktu to find the Imam who shows him original astronomical textbooks that predate Galileo's discoveries by 200 years.

Amidst the chaos of camel races, shopping and general mayhem, Michael meets up with a group of Touareg for the next leg of his journey: a camel train across the Tenere desert to Algeria. Walking 12 hours a day, eating the odd sheep, and learning the rudiments of Tamashek, the language of the Tuareg, Michael finally gets to grips with the heart and soul of the desert.

The fourth episode, Dire Straits would be aired on Saturday 25 November at 2:10 pm and re-telecasted on Saturday 25 November at 11:10 pm, Sunday 25 November at 5:10 am, 10:10 pm and 6:10 pm.

In this episode, Michael arrives at the border of Niger and Algeria, where banditry is a way of life in the absence of law and order.Turning north Michael passes through the mountains of the Hoggar massif before he pauses in the oil and gas fields of central Algeria.

Crossing into Tunis Michael re-lives the filming of The Life of Brian in Monastir, before taking the Maghreb Express to the city of Algiers.

Michael talks to would-be immigrants before returning to his original starting point, Gibraltar.En-route he learns of the terrible fate that has engulfed so many Saharan men, women and children who attempt the eight mile crossing in search of a better life.

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