Sheila Hancock and Gyles Brandreth make for a jolly pair

In the small drawer at Channel 4 HQ labelled “something for the oldies” lies Great Canal Journeys, a programme that delighted over 10 series with the actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales at the tiller. It was ostensibly a travel show but really it was the touching study of a marriage, and their mutual devotion in the face of Scales’s advancing dementia.

Now the couple have bowed out, but Channel 4 don’t want to lose a hit. So the broadcaster has kept the format but swapped in Gyles Brandreth and Sheila Hancock. It is not an entirely random choice – the pair are long-time friends of Tim and Pru. But they are absolute novices when it comes to the waterways so the focus in this first of two episodes was mainly comic, as they crashed into the banks, struggled with locks and broke the loo.

“You know nothing and I know even less,” said Brandreth, cheerily. Good cheer is Brandreth’s stock-in-trade, which made him an excellent travelling companion. He and Hancock have been pals for 40 years and clearly have a hoot together, particularly when they play Scrabble. It is a nice dynamic, although without the extra layers of the previous series it is no more than a jolly travelogue.

Still, in this youth-obsessed age, it was pleasant to see older people allowed on TV. Brandreth is 72 and Hancock is 87, the latter suffering from rheumatoid arthritis but determined not to let it get in the way of new adventures.

After a rudimentary lesson from West – with Scales sending in a recorded message from home, a reassuring sight for anyone worried about her condition – they set off up the Thames, meeting English eccentrics (a chap in the world’s only amphibious electric bath chair) and environmental campaigners, historians and rowers.

The Thames is a well-worn subject and there was nothing very exciting to see here – can there be anyone unaware of the history of Cliveden, and its links to the Profumo Affair? Next week’s episode on the Lee Navigation should be more interesting. But as a gentle celebration of friendship and the delights of messing about in boats, it was a pleasant way to pass the time.

Source Article

Next Post

Yankees prospect Jasson Dominguez unfazed

Sun Nov 8 , 2020
Jasson Dominguez had big news and he couldn’t wait to share it. It had been a few months since the 17-year-old had signed with the Yankees for $5.1 million, and apart from buying his parents a home in the Dominican Republic, he had not made any big purchases for himself. […]

You May Like