If the mere sight of Michael Palin striding purposefully towards the camera across some foreign terrain is enough to send you into fits of delight, then Sahara
is just for you. Following on from his three pan-global expeditions, Palin is back on the exploration trail. This time it's traversing the Sahara desert; travelling from Gibraltar through Tangiers and the Arab world down through Africa and some of the most inhospitable conditions on the planet. The formula that Palin established in Around The World In Eighty Days
has hardly been tampered with, but Sahara
is proof that there are few better exponents of the travelogue. Palin is an engaging host, far more attractive than the extreme survival merchants, walking the fine line between experienced traveller and slightly eccentric Englishman abroad. The programme also strikes a perfect balance between grand visual gestures (the camerawork is simply stunning) and focusing on the individual lives that characterise the region, all underpinned by Palin's unique brand of humour. This is one to return to again and again.
On the DVD: Sahara comes in at a mere four one-hour episodes and the producers were left with a huge amount of unused footage. Thus the DVD features a large selection of deleted scenes, all linked by Palin. The excellent set of extras also includes a collection of rough video diaries--mainly featuring Palin being pummelled by the elements--and an extensive interview with the presenter. The picture quality is fantastic (particularly compared to Palin's earlier series), as is the digital sound. There is a subtitle option and scene selection and the whole package is thoroughly recommended. --Phil Udell
Starring: Michael Palin Crossing the Sahara is one of the greatest challenges in world travel. Encountering the difficulties travellers have faces for centuries, Michael Palin is guided by the fascinating people he meets along the way. His astonishing journey reveals not only the emptiness of endless sand, but a diverse range of cultures, landscapes and a long history of civilisation. Extras include: Commentary by Michael Palin. Deleted scenes. Behind the scenes footage. Interview with Michael Palin. This DVD does not include Subtitles