Great Canal Journeys
CHANNEL 4, 8.00PM
When they embarked on the first series of Great Canal Journeys in 2014, it’s doubtful whether Timothy West or Prunella Scales could have foreseen its longevity, in part given the niche material and also because of Scales’s advancing Alzheimer’s disease. Yet here they are, heading through Portugal for the first instalment in this eighth series, never passing up the opportunity to draw comparisons between long marriages and vintage fortified wines. It is another hour of gentle insights and pure, unaffected charm.
Their journey takes them from a river port 100 miles inland through to Porto along the Rio Douro, via several vineyards and, slightly less predictably, examples of ancient rock art and Europe’s deepest lock. Throughout is evidence of why Portugal remains England’s oldest ally (Brits are heavily involved in the contemporary port industry) and, more significantly, of a relationship of a strength and mutual affection to which we can all aspire. Scales credits her husband with “opening up the world”. For West’s part, he reckons that “she likes being with me and I like being with her. That’s the best we can hope for, and very nice too.” Gabriel Tate
Of the first water: Prunella Scales