What could just be another travelogue documentary, Paul Merton In China
is lifted enormously by its star. Merton, best known of course for the likes of Have I Got News For You
, covers the well and lesser known destinations within China’s border, all the while proving to be an engaging and genial guide.
It helps, of course, that Merton is one of the funniest people working in television today, but Paul Merton In China is a lot more than a chance for him to display his wit (although it is frequently very funny). Instead, he displays a continuing inquisitive interest in the places that we see him visit, never forgetting that his job is to help document a broad, yet often mysterious nation.
Across the four hours of Paul Merton In China, he covers both the contrasting modern and more traditional areas of the country, from the big cities through to the lesser-known areas, meeting some interesting characters while on his travels. And the only problem is that there isn’t more of it, for there’s surely scope for some kind of follow-up here, given that Merton scratches the surface of the country.
Nonetheless, Paul Merton In China is a quite brilliant piece of television, and you only hope that the BBC ensures Mr Merton’s passport is kept regularly stamped in the years ahead. --Jon Foster
The comedian’s oriental odyssey in search of the engaging and the extraordinary.
Paul Merton, (star of Have I Got News for You
), journeys across both modern and traditional China as he attempts to unravel the deep mysteries and baffling contradictions of this ancient country.
Travelling to major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu but also to the country’s most obscure and traditional backwaters, Merton enjoys a voyage of personal discovery as he encounters China’s new economic realities, idiosyncratic cuisine and engaging people.
Merton meets representatives from all walks of Chinese life, from the eccentric farmer who has taught himself to build robots out of scrap metal to the apparatchik who has built his own 17th century French chateau. Exploring China’s cultural differences, the comedian braves meals of scorpion and hairy crab, attempts kung fu, prays with Tibetan monks, meets Chinese hip hop artists who only rap about food, and visits Thamestown, a unique recreation of a provincial English town on the outskirts of Shanghai. Laced with Paul Merton’s usual deadpan wit and observations, his journey is an unforgettable oriental trip along the road less travelled.
Presented by Paul Merton Original Music by Rohan Stevenson Produced and Directed by Barbie Maclaurin Series Producer Mark Chapman Executive Producer Paul Sommers