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 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.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
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
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform