New Zealand Listener - - THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT - By FIONA RAE

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.