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Review: David Baddiel: On The Silk Road | Virgin Media
Why was David Baddiel the man selected to go on an ambling odyssey across the ancient Silk Road? Who knows, but he does make a suitably wry guide to one of the most mythologised trade routes of history.
In a nutshell
There’s a proud TV tradition of (apparently) randomly-selected celebs going off on oddly arduous journeys for our viewing pleasure. It was Michael Palin who started it, of course – the one-time Python practically invented the genre of “famous comedian commenting on exotic things in an unflappably British way”, and since then we’ve had everyone from Joanna Lumley to Paul Merton wandering around various colourful locales, pointing at things. Even so, we were a bit surprised to see David Baddiel at it. For some intangible reason, he just seems so thoroughly… London-ish.
Yet, as this opening episode of his new series showed, he’s pretty good at this travelogue lark. Kicking things off in the ancient city of Xi’an, the beginning of the fabled Silk Road, he made a charmingly bedraggled guide, shambling around markets, offering amusing thoughts on traditional aphrodisiacs, and buying stuff from the locals. He also showed a refreshing disdain for the standard tourist attractions, preferring instead to get stuck into a game of footie. Well, it’s only fitting in the nation that created the beautiful game (it’s true!).
What's the verdict?
The Silk Road is a subject so immense, and of such world-changing significance, that it really deserves a mammoth 10-part BBC Four series presented by Simon Schama. But until that happens, watching David Baddiel kicking balls about in ancient cities will do us just fine.