Paul Merton in Europe: Episode 2

Monday 18th January 9.00pm

Paul Merton continues his fascinating tour of Europe this week on Five. In this instalment, Paul visits an American Indian Club in the former GDR before exploring the Wunderland miniature railway in the affluent city of Hamburg. His last stop in Germany is a visit to a family who make wooden sex toys! The next leg of the journey is the Republic of Ireland, starting in the ‘rebel’ county of Cork. Paul meets a solicitor called Colin who dreams of competing as a female synchronised swimmer, and an Irish monk who has opened an alternative sculpture park…

Having started his European adventure in Berlin, Paul now moves eastward into the rural backwaters of the former GDR, stopping at a small farmhouse called Crazy Horse Ranch. Here, husband and wife Frank and Simona live life as if they were cowboys and Indians in the Wild West. Ensuring Paul has a lasting memory of eastern Germany, the couple perform a re-enactment of the Battle of Little Bighorn with the help of some like-minded friends. “Having thought about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re absolutely bonkers – in a nice way!” concludes Paul.

Next, Paul travels to the historic dockyards of Hamburg and discovers a secret world run by three brothers. Wunderland is the world’s largest miniature railway. The brainchild of twins Gerrit and Frederick Braun and their younger brother Sebastian, the railway includes Hamburg itself, Germany and large parts of the world. Monitored by a complex bank of cameras and computers, Wunderland is an almost perfect reconstruction. Along its 12km stretch of track lie hidden secrets, from car crashes to more intimate moments. It is an immense, unnervingly rounded land of wonder.

For his last German experience, Paul journeys south to the picturesque woods that inspired the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Here, he meets the Thury family. While making ornamental mushrooms in his woodwork shop, father Elmar noticed he had created what looked more like a dildo! Thus began a unique family business making wooden sex toys. While Elmar looks after production, eldest son Stefan runs the website and matriarch Maria handles the varnishing.

Paul bids farewell to Germany and moves on to the Republic of Ireland. After reading about a male solicitor who is trying to break into the competitive world of female synchronised swimming, Paul travels to the picturesque and conservative town of Fermoy in County Cork to meet him. One of a distinguished line of solicitors, aspiring swimmer Colin wants to risk it all for what he sees as his right to be allowed to swim with the girls…

Paul’s visit to the Emerald Isle continues with a trip to Wicklow, where Irish Buddhist monk Viktor has created a spiritual retreat with a difference. Viktor calls the retreat his ‘midlife crisis park’ – a place where visitors question their lives. Paul takes a private tour with Viktor to see some of the most unusual sculptures he has ever encountered – from a boy slicing his head in half to a giant toothed vagina!

Finally, Paul heads back to the ‘rebel’ county of Cork. Until 1993 homosexuality was illegal in Ireland – but Paul is heartened to see a huge celebration of gay pride on the streets of one of Ireland’s most traditional cities, the city of Cork. Paul meets David Roche, head of the Cork Gay Project, to see just how much Ireland has changed since his childhood days.

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