The BBC is planning a revival of mainstream travel TV - but will anyone be watching?

The Travel Show makes its mainstream debut on BBC2 on Friday with reports on "Are the French really rude to tourists?", "Brazil's abseiling rubbish collectors", or the art boom in South Africa

Once upon a time, life was simple for the armchair traveller – it came down to a choice between Cliff Michelmore and Judith Chalmers.

From 1969 onwards, a deskbound Michelmore – the David Dimbleby of his day – fronted BBC1's Holiday programme, a natural career move for the man who presented the BBC coverage of that ultimate Sixties vacation, the Apollo moon landings. And, for 30 years, Chalmers hit the world's sunspots for ITV's Wish You Were Here? – all that time, she revealed later, without wearing any knickers; it was a visible panty-line issue apparently.

In 1986, Michelmore gave way to Frank Bough, who had his television passport revoked when it was exposed that he had been taking cocaine in a Mayfair brothel. Jill Dando took over in 1993, until her terrible, and still unsolved, murder in 1999, while Laurence Llewelyn Bowen was at the helm when the show reached its final baggage carousel in 2007 – to be replaced by The One Show. Holiday was still quite popular to the end, but unsentimental old Auntie recognised that, as a spokesperson put it, "the way people organise their holidays is changing." Wish You Were Here? taxied down its final runway in 2003, which was probably for the best for the health of Chalmers' skin.

The rise and fall of these great rival TV shows mirrors almost exactly that of the package holiday – the two weeks on the Costa provided by enterprises such as Intasun and Horizon. Not that millions did not still migrate to the fringes of Spain and Greece each August, but, as travel writer Kate Simon wrote in this newspaper in 2011, "within just 40 years, the British public has progressed in its travel ambitions from considering the price of a full English in Benidorm to white-water rafting on the Zambezi river."

An attempt was made by BBC2 in the 1980s and 1990s to make the television travel show more relevant to the freestyle traveller, with Rough Guides, produced by the "yoof TV" supremo Janet Street Porter and fronted by posh-punk-in-shades, Magenta Devine. The main channels, however, leant more and more heavily on celebrities to do our travelling for us. Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 Days was the trailblazer here, and since then the floodgates have opened. There's no better way for a channel to schmooze its most important talent.

There is, of course, a dedicated Travel Channel deep in the digital universe, with predominantly American programming and wall-to-wall episodes of Airport 24/7: Miami. And out there on BBC World News, a show called Fast Track has quietly been thriving for years.

And now, starting on Friday morning on BBC2 at 10.30am, FastTrack makes its mainstream debut – having first been re-named The Travel Show, with reports on "Are the French really rude to tourists?", "Brazil's abseiling rubbish collectors", or the art boom in South Africa. "The Travel Show isn't your typical TV travel programme," says Emma De'Ath, of BBC Global News. "It will engage the curious and intelligent traveller… and reveal just how different connected modern travel is from tourism of the past."

Carey Clark, the show's executive producer, is well aware of where the competition lies. "The internet is fine for finding good deals and comparing prices, but it is often hard to find impartial insight, advice or information," she says.

But is it really? Only last June, for example, The Independent published a 50 Best Travel Websites, which seemed to cover all the bases, from In Your Pocket ("devastatingly honest city guides") and Gadling ("the travel equivalent of an iPod shuffle button") and such trusty old favourites as lastminute.com and TripAdvisor.

Online requires you to be proactive, though, and sometimes it's nice to just have the world brought to your armchair, like in the good old days of Michelmore and Chalmers. Especially as many of us can't actually afford to go anywhere any more.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable