iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for Way off the Beaten Track

Listen now 45 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Way off the Beaten Track

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 18 November 2012

Many of the most admired and popular travel writers of recent times have been revealed after their deaths as distinctly unreliable narrators, from Norman Lewis to Ryszard Kapuscinski.

Newsnight's Culture Correspondent Stephen Smith sets out on a journey to ask if it matters. Don't their polished yarns improve on reality, by giving the reader a better insight than more workaday and ambiguous 'truth' can offer? And aren't their worked-up stories simply more fun, better page-turners?

As a reporter and a travel writer, Stephen has grappled with the ethical and literary dilemmas of telling it like it is. But have other writers been as worried about such dull things as facts? He goes on a journey to explore the work of both past and present travel writers.

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.


Discover Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas season

Explore the life, work and legacy of the Welsh poet on the centenary of his birth.


  1. Image for BBC World War One

    BBC World War One

    BBC Radio brings you stories of the war that changed who we are, with documentaries exploring the…

  2. Image for Music and Culture of WW1

    Music and Culture of WW1

    Highlights of BBC Radio 3’s special programmes to mark the WW1 centenary. Classical music, art,…

  3. Image for Ravel Revealed

    Ravel Revealed

    Maurice Ravel revealed through guides to his work and life. Ravel and Jazz, Ravel and literature,…

  4. Image for The Radio 3 Documentary

    The Radio 3 Documentary

    In-depth documentaries which each week explore a different aspect of history, science, philosophy,…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss