Journeys Of Discovery on BBC Four this summer
Update – 14 July 2008: this press release has been updated to reflect the fact that the Travellers Season has been renamed Journeys Of Discovery.
Update – 4 June 2008: this press release has been updated to reflect a change in the number of episodes of The Thirties In Colour.
BBC Four explores the nomad in us all this July and August with a season of programmes devoted to the traveller.
Featuring some of the best known travellers and travel writers of our time, this season of documentaries captures their thoughts, feelings and journeys around the globe.
The season will be made of two brand new series, The Thirties In Colour and Traveller's Century, plus a standalone documentary, Alastair Cooke – Man Of Letters, and a chance to revisit The Way We Travelled and Sahara.
Traveller's Century is a series that focuses on the golden age of travel, from 1910 to 1980, over three episodes.
Benedict Allen follows the stories of three of the greatest travel writers: Eric Newby, Laurie Lee and Patrick Fermor.
All have extraordinary stories to tell, from capture and escape from an Italian POW camp (Newby), walking penniless across Spain (Lee) and an epic quest across Europe through Holland, Germany, Hungary and Romania towards Byzantium (Fermor).
Combining interviews and archive footage with location sequence and dramatisations, these three stories highlight extraordinary journeys which proved seminal in these writers' lives.
Independent commissioning editor Jacquie Hughes says: "Benedict Allen is the real McCoy and has boldly gone where very few have gone before. He is uniquely placed to reveal what these classic journeys tell us about travel and travellers and what makes the British such a restless race.''
Traveller's Century is produced by Icon Films and Harry Marshall is the executive producer of this 3 x 60-minute series commissioned by Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Four.
The Thirties In Colour depicts a decade that erupted into colour.
For the first time, film-makers could really capture the world in authentic, vibrant colours and intrepid travellers, cultural anthropologists, professional photojournalists and documentary film-makers were traversing the globe to do so.
Through their images – many never seen before – viewers will be taken back in time to share the extraordinary adventures of thrilling transcontinental journeys.
This 4 x 60-minute series is being made by BBC Vision Productions and is executive produced by London Factual's David Okuefuna.
Adam Kemp, Commissioning Editor for Arts, Performance and Religion, commissioned the series.
David Okuefuna says: "We've scoured public and private archives around the globe to find these astonishingly rare films – many of which capture momentous events in the years before the world lurched into the Second World War.
"We think they'll give today's viewers an entirely new perspective on what was a pivotal period in 20th century history."
Alastair Cooke – Man of Letters tells the story of one of the most celebrated broadcasters of the 20th century, marking the 2008 centenary of his birth.
To millions of Americans, he was the genial host of Masterpiece Theater, and the quintessential Englishman.
To the British, he was perhaps the best-known voice on BBC Radio, whose soothing tones were heard on Letter From America for 58 years: an institution.
This 60-minute documentary tells Cooke's story using revealing interviews with family and close friends, and the 150 reels of 8mm film discovered stashed in his basement lockup after his death.
It is the tale of a man who transformed himself and created a unique place in Anglo-American history.
Executive Producer Michael Poole says: "This film gives us a new Cooke; an ambitious, passionate and emotionally complex man.
"What emerges is an extraordinarily visual and creative Cooke, whose ability to observe America was at the core of a lifetime of journalism."
Alastair Cooke: Man of Letters was commissioned by George Entwistle, Controller, Knowledge Commissioning, and Adam Kemp.
Also featuring in the Journeys Of Discovery season will be a second chance to see The Way We Travelled, with Alan Whicker, Richard Dimbleby and Cliff Michelmore, and Sahara with Michael Palin.