Historian Sam Willis was the last Brit we saw merrily following the most famous trade route in history, but perhaps a comedian will have another perspective. David Baddiel on the Silk Road (Discovery, Sky 070, Sunday, 7.30pm) is a fourpart series in which he travels 6500km from China to Turkey.
Although the Silk Road was closed by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, ancient routes linking Asia and Europe still exist in some form, and Baddiel retraces the steps of merchants and others who
transported goods, knowledge, religion, culture, music – and disease. Some of the landscapes are extraordinary, “I was on parts of the Earth that felt like the moon,” he told the Guardian.
There are stops in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
“We were trying to find places where things that are very widespread in the world began. There’s a shade of blue
invented by the Chinese that you can see in Buddhist caves in western China. As you move west along the Silk Road, you see how it appeared on church walls.”
His adventures include harvesting pigeon poo in Turkey to make gunpowder, tracking down huge dogs in Georgia that are bred for catching bears (“terrifying”), and dining with the “one Jewish family left in Uzbekistan”.
David Baddiel on the Silk Road, Sunday.