Great British Railway Journeys - Series 1 BBC [DVD] 
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Passionate about trains, Michael Portillo charts the great British romance with the railways as he retraces four journeys that were first documented in the monthly railway guide, Bradshaw's Handbook. He sees what's changed and discovers how our love of the railways all began. This 4 disc DVD set features 20 episodes covering the 4 different journeys: Liverpool to Scarborough, Preston to Kirkcaldy, Swindon to Penzance, Buxton to London. Portillo makes stops en route to visit some of Britain's most beautiful cities and hidden-away villages, meeting extraordinary people and hearing stories of how their lives have been shaped in some way by the railways. Throughout these monumental journeys, Portillo explores the secret ammunition factory at Gretna, sails the last steam boat on Lake Windermere, learns to talk 'scouse' in Liverpool, takes a dip in Bath Spa, cooks a traditional curry in Birmingham, tries his hand at oyster fishing in Cornwall and meets survivors of the Coventry Blitz.
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Top Customer Reviews
It's a surprisingly charming series which succeeds in capturing a snapshot of modern Britain (mainly England; there's not a lot from the rest of the UK). Each programme reviews how the areas visited by the railway have changed in the past 170 years.
So although you might at first think that this DVD is just for train buffs, that's a long way from the truth. Great British Railway Journeys opens a window onto English industrial and social development, and gives us plenty of glimpses of how the past has morphed into the present. The railway is a useful device and Bradshaw's guide provides plenty of Victorian description to compare with the modern situation. So this series isn't just for railway buffs, although there is plenty of footage of current trains in service, plus many wonderful moments in interesting stations.
Portillo takes four different journeys over the course of the 20 episodes, from Liverpool to Scarborough; Preston to Kirkcaldy; Swindon to Penzance and Buxton to London. Along the way he calls at thriving cities, hidden villages, sites of natural beauty, post-industrial deserts and meets all manner of interesting locals who explain about the area's cultural and industrial heritage. This is all linked to the impact of the rise and decline of the railways.Read more ›
His enthusiasm for the railway system of this country is clear for all to see. His style of presentation is first rate, he is allowing the story to unfold through the railway guide so paintstakingly produced by Bradshaw. The journey which he takes us upon is one where the viewer is treated to a delight of social and industrial history which helped shape the modern Britain in which we live today. This is an absolute must for railway enthusiasts and for those people who have an interest in the remarkable way that the developement of the railway system shaped our social history in Victorian England. I cannot recommend this set of cds highly enough, a little pricey but worth every penny.
The locations and narrative hook you in from the very start and each half-hour episode is totally absorbing. There's never a dull moment.
The camera work is also first rate but I can't believe this isn't available on Blu-ray. This series (and the current series 2) look absolutely stunning on BBC HD - it's crazy not to put this out on Blu-ray. Whoever makes these decisions, please take note!
Michael Portillo is such a pleasant, enthusiastic and intelligent presenter - no arm waving, shouting or gimmicks - and with his camera/sound crew he shows us Britain at its best, based on the classic George Bradshaw railway guides printed in the 1800's.
Victorian engineering, steam trains, local historic sights, places of interest and places to stay are all detailed in each half hour programme. The archive footage included where appropriate is stunning and local historians are on hand to talk Michael through particular events and places.
The delight of Michael when members of the public stop to chat - and then give information on their local history - is a joy to see. Mr Portillo is unfailingly polite, witty and above all passionate about his subject. And his dress sense is impecable - he defines "smart/casual" for the middle aged man. I hope series 2 is released in the near future.
Bradshaw also wrote travel guides for Europe, China and Russia. Come on BBC, there are many more journeys to be made!
Hopefully series 2 will also be available on DVD / Blu ray as well? (Maidstone, Kent, Chester, Scotland, Newcastle, Wales etc this time around)
Just checking Amazon, copies of Bradshaw are pretty expensive.. perhaps the BBC could have released a copy of the Bradshaw ? used on Portillo's travels.. or is there a Kindle version available (perhaps not so evocative of the Victorian period though)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love these programs!
Bought for my parents in Australia as a gift.
All of MP DVDs are so good interesting, and valuable historical information. We send these overseas to people who have visited the UK just check that the DVD works in that country!Published 5 months ago by M J MCMILLAN