Ewan’s ac­tion-guy mis­sion

He’s no ex­pert in this field but give the man credit, writes Pat­tie Pe­gler.

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There are plenty of celebs that act as am­bas­sadors for United Na­tions chil­dren’s or­gan­i­sa­tion, Unicef. They do tele­vised ap­peals or visit projects some­where.

But ac­tor Ewan McGre­gor, who’s been a Unicef am­bas­sador for eight years, has upped the ante. The two-part doc­u­men­tary Ewan McGre­gor Cold Chain Mis­sion (Sun­day, 8.30pm, Liv­ing chan­nel) fol­lows him tak­ing ‘‘lifesaving vac­cines to chil­dren liv­ing in some of the most re­mote ar­eas on the planet’’. In the first part he trav­els to In­dia and Nepal, the fol­low­ing week it’s Africa. Along the way the vac­cines have to be kept cold or they be­come in­ef­fec­tive.

It’s a sce­nario with lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties for McGre­gor to ride around on a mo­tor­bike look­ing like an ac­tion guy.

‘‘It’s the per­fect match of fur­ther­ing my work with Unicef and . . . go­ing on an ad­ven­ture which I like to do,’’ he says. He then launches into a de­scrip­tion of the com­forts of his life – water, food in the fridge, a doc­tor down the road, a hospi­tal round the cor­ner. ‘‘When we get to the very far reaches the chil­dren won’t have any of those things’’. OK, Ewan, don’t rub it in.

It might be an ad­ven­ture hol­i­day for McGre­gor as he can­didly ad­mits, but you’ve got to give him credit. The jour­ney looks hor­ri­bly tough – all dusty roads, lots of hik­ing and a bon­er­at­tling moun­tain run­way. And at ev­ery overnight stop they have to find some­where to keep the vac­cines cold. At one point this in­volves a ho­tel fridge so filthy it should be fea­tured on Kitchen Night­mares.

McGre­gor has a pleas­ant man­ner and cares about the job at hand. But he’s no ex­pert on the topic and it shows. ‘‘I’ve crossed a lot of bor­ders and they all feel a bit like this. There’s gen­er­ally mar­kets near them, there’s loads of goods go­ing back and for­ward, busy . . . they’re in­ter­est­ing places.’’ He of­ten bab­bles like this, as if some­one had just pushed him in front of the cam­era and told him to say what­ever came into his head.

Clearly vac­ci­na­tion pro­grammes are full of chal­lenges and it’s an in­ter­est­ing topic. But this show seems un­sure what it is, part trav­el­ogue, part doc­u­men­tary, part Unicef pro­mo­tional film.

Clas­sic At­ten­bor­ough

Re­mote places also fea­ture this week in David At­ten­bor­ough’s Africa (Tues­day 8.30pm, TV One). It’s been hard to miss those tan­ta­lis­ing trail­ers and the first episode, Kala­hari, lives up to the hype.

There’s the trade­mark At­ten­bor­ough nar­ra­tion; su­perb pho­tog­ra­phy; in­cred­i­ble facts. And an amaz­ing gi­raffe bat­tle.

There are prob­a­bly some overly sen­si­tive souls out there still blither­ing on about that po­lar bear footage from a zoo rather than the tundra, as seen in Frozen Planet.

They’re miss­ing the point. At­ten­bor­ough makes beau­ti­ful doc­u­men­taries that show us won­ders of the nat­u­ral world most of us will prob­a­bly never get the chance to see.

And he does it with a real pas­sion and knowl­edge. Africa is su­perb. Watch it.

Ewan McGre­gor: Cold Chain Mis­sion brings vac­cines to re­mote peo­ples.

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