Great Canal Jour­neys

The Daily Telegraph - - Television & radio -

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

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