Brazil With Michael Palin

9:00pm Wednesday 14 November on BBC ONE

In The Deep South, the final episode, Michael is surprised by the rich diversity of Brazil’s Deep South – where European and Asian influences have created a new melting pot.

In the picture-perfect town of Paraty, Michael meets Prince Joao de Braganza, the heir to the defunct throne of Brazil. He visits Embraer – the world’s third-largest commercial aircraft manufacturer and just one of Brazil’s many recent high-tech success stories. Then, while taking to the skies of Sao Paolo ?with Wilson Quintela – the ‘king of waste disposal’ – in order to avoid the hundred-mile traffic jams, Michael learns there’s millions to be made from the rubbish dumps of the megalopolis.

Michael meets TV soap star Carolina Ferraz on the set of her most recent hit telenovela, where storylines are fuelled by issues of poverty alongside love triangles. In the slums of Sao Paolo, Carolina takes Michael to visit rap star, philosopher and poet Criolo, who thinks the notion of social equality is a distant dream for most Brazilians. But ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso gives Michael a more optimistic view of Brazil’s melting pot.

Travelling south to Blumenau, Michael’s views on what makes a typical Brazilian are challenged when he meets German speakers, Bavarian schulplatte dancers and models who dream of becoming the next Giselle Bundchen. In the vast wetlands of The Pantanal, Michael catches piranha for sushi and helps cowboys treat a calf attacked by a jaguar, before his journey comes to an end at the magnificent Iguazu falls.

Ep 4/4

9:00pm Wednesday 7 November on BBC ONE

In episode 3, Road To Rio, Michael Palin visits the source of Brazil’s great mineral wealth, then travels to Rio – one of the world’s greatest cities – to see how this new-found wealth is being spent, changing the lives of millions of its inhabitants.

Michael starts in the mineral-rich state of ‘Minas Gerais’ – General Mines – visiting an old gold mine once owned by the British, before going to see one of the area’s many vast opencast iron ore mines. Iron ore deposits are fuelling Brazil’s economic miracle but there is an environmental price to pay and Michael meets some of the Brazilians dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of the state.

Michael then heads to Rio De Janeiro, host to the next Olympics and World Cup. Rio has always had a reputation as a party town, but has also suffered from heavily armed drug gangs controlling the notorious shanty towns, making them some of the most violent places on Earth. Now the authorities are spending some of Brazil’s new money on healing the rift between the favelas and the rest of the city. Michael goes to see how lives are being transformed by the policy of ‘pacification’, which aims to drive the drug gangs out and fund new infrastructure and social programmes.

En route, Michael also visits some of Rio’s best-known locations, books a room in one of the city’s infamous ‘love hotels’ and learns to celebrate a goal like a Brazilian radio commentator.

Ep 3/4

9:00pm Wednesday 24 October on BBC ONE

Michael Palin has travelled the world for the past 25 years, earning him a reputation as the man who’s been everywhere. But there’s one big gap in his passport: Brazil. The fifth-largest country on earth with an abundance of resources and a melting pot of peoples, it’s a nation that’s risen almost out of nowhere to become a 21st-century superpower, and is next in line to host both the World Cup and Olympic Games. In this four-part series, Palin sets off to discover a country whose time has come.

Michael begins in the north east – where Europeans first settled and grew rich on slave labour. Here, the mix of indigenous people, African slaves, and relatively few Europeans created many of the characteristic elements of Brazilian life: food, dance, music and a multiplicity of religions.

In Sao Luis, European and African religious rituals come together in typically Brazilian celebrations, and Michael heads to the city’s backstreets to find out about a ceremony based on a 200-year-old slave tale.

He visits one of the region’s massive beaches – the country’s great public playgrounds – before heading to the monster sand-dunes of the Lencois Maranhenses National Park. In Recife, Michael tours the city’s striking street art and sculptures, and in Olinda, he gets roped onto the dance floor in a country where everybody dances. Journeying inland, he gets a glimpse of the fast-disappearing world of old-style ‘vaqueiro’ cowboys.

In Salvador, Michael has his fortune read by a priest who practises the local religion of Candomble. He tries his hand at African drumming, samples the Bahian cuisine of a legendary local chef, and is introduced to capoeira in one of the city’s shanty towns.

Leaving Salvador, Michael passes sugar-cane plantations on route to a cigar factory, before finishing the first leg of his journey off the coast on a traditional saveiro boat.

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