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
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: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific