Friday, 09 September 2016

Joanna Lumley's Japan

Joanna lumley explores the land of the rising sun

Written by Ben Felsenburg
Ben-Felsenburg-colour-176Should Boris Johnson ever tire of his new job, I think I have the perfect candidate for Foreign Secretary. Joanna Lumley travels well, carries the charm to move a despot to at least a semblance of kindness, and with her spirit of fearless frank talking would tell him what she really thinks as the drinks were served at the state banquet. In Joanna Lumley’s Japan (Friday, itv, 9pm) the eternally youthful star continues a world tour for ITV that’s already taken in Russia, Egypt and Greece.

The three-part series begins with a surprising scene designed to confound all our expectations of the land of the rising sun. Heavily clad in a fake-fur coat and travelling across a pristine white expanse carpeted in snow, Lumley looks for all the world as if she’s escaped from doctor Zhivago. She’s on the northernmost of the four main islands of Japan, Hokkaido, where she braves the cold and gets out of bed at 4am to witness the magnificent sight of red- crested cranes gathering in their hundreds. Then it’s off to Sapporo, and the marvels of the city’s annual snow festival, at which this year the star attraction is a more or less full-scale church that’s been painstakingly sculpted over the course of a month by an army of volunteers – members of the Japanese Defence Force, whose committedly non-aggressive stance moves Lumley to a paean to peace-loving hippy ideals. Who knows what havoc her ethos would wreak in diplomatic circles?


Last Night of the Proms Sat, BBC2, 7.15pm
Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo is maestro for the night’s feast of music, presented by Katie Derham (below, centre) from the Royal Albert Hall

Scotland and the Battle for Britain Sun, BBC2, 8pm
Andrew Marr (below) delves into the Scottish question, sizing up the future of the union in a two-part series.

British Sitcom: 60 Years Of Laughing at Ourselves Mon, BBC4, 9pm
From Hancock’s half hour to the present day: Rebecca front is the narrator for a fascinating history of TV sitcoms.

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