Lumley and Palin go round the world for Auntie

Joanna Lumley and Michael Palin, whose globetrotting adventures proved to be ratings winners for the BBC, will be off on their televisual travels again this autumn.

Miss Lumley is to retrace a Himalayan journey her grandparents made in 1931. The programmes follow a series showing how she coped with the hardships of life on a desert island, which proved popular with viewers last year.

Michael Palin, regarded as the most affable television travel guide, is to undertake a trip around the Pacific Rim, in a series called Full Circle.

Elsewhere in the BBC1 autumn schedule the channel is likely to provoke some controversy, with a daring drama about the amorous encounters of a young prince at Cambridge, and a series of documentaries exploring the history of modern Irish republicanism.

But, in case defenders of the constitutional status quo are provoked into withholding their license fee, the corporation will also commemorate Remembrance Sunday with an affectionate portrait of the Chelsea Pensioners.

Launching the line-up at Television Centre yesterday, the BBC's director of television, Alan Yentob, steadfastly denied that The Prince of Hearts (starring Robson Green and Tara Fitzgerald) was about Prince Edward, who studied at Jesus College, Cambridge.

"It's a piece of pure fiction. Just enjoy it," Mr Yentob told reporters, explaining away the choice of location lightheartedly: "You wouldn't want to base it in Birmingham or Bromley, would you?"

Mr Yentob turned more tense when dealing with Provos, a documentary study of the IRA's "armed struggle'.

"The BBC will be careful to ensure it is not a propaganda coup for the Provisionals," he stated wearily, pointing out that four former Northern Ireland secretaries had agreed to be interviewed.

The producer of the programmes - to be presented by a seasoned chronicler of the conflict, Peter Taylor - also claims to have gained unprecedented access to leading republicans.

The BBC will also mark its 75th anniversary this autumn by screening a major history series about itself, Auntie - The Story of the BBC, made by an independent production company.

The series promises to offer insight into the battles between BBC management and the Thatcher government.

Rob Brown

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