Travel: Passport - Jim White: 'Until there isn't any, you don't really realise how important scenery is . . .'
Sunday 03 May 1998
Local holidays are usually taken with his wife, Arabella, and children, Hugo 10, Ellie 9 and Barney 6, to film family-oriented holidays. Exotic places he's more likely to visit on his own. But Jim is never really alone. Travelling with him to each location is a director, a researcher, a camera and a sound person. There is also a fixer/driver, a local person who knows what the local action is. Each segment of the programme takes four days to film.
He went skiing with his family this winter to La Rosiere in the French Alps. The children had a great time. "The production team didn't do anything with the children that wasn't actuality. They just filmed them skiing and at ski school. All that filming from 17 different angles which you tend to get, me and my wife Arabella did. The children just had fun. They love the camera crew and get really spoilt by them.
"I also had a brilliant time in the South of France researching a piece about football and where to stay for the World Cup. The crew were terribly amusing too. When you are working together for 15 hours a day, you develop all sorts of ridiculous in-jokes, I try and get a few little signposts into the programme for the crew's amusement. It helps us keep our sanity."
A trip to Egypt was not so amusing. "Every time we set up the camera we were surrounded by people. They are friendly but the sheer numbers of onlookers made it hard to film. Someone always seemed to shout or toot their car horn at the wrong moment and we had to do it all over again. We went to Alexandria and the entire crew became ill. We had to carry the director sweating and shaking on to the plane. Rather foolishly he'd had a chicken curry and got severe food poisoning."
And what about places not so exotic? "We went to the Dutch riviera near Rotterdam. We were swimming in an international sea route and there were all these huge tankers which appeared to be bearing down on us. Holland is also incredibly flat and boring. It occurred to me that wherever you go in the world there are always Dutch people and that is a hint as to why you don't want to go to their country because they don't want to be there. They are a nation in search of a view really. Until there isn't any, you don't realise how important scenery is."
Any drawbacks? "I think it would be the most churlish thing on earth to complain about doing travel journalism. Although you are not really having a holiday because your time isn't your own, I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression that it is hard work: it isn't. There are, I'm sure better jobs, but I've yet to come across them."
The next series of 'The Travel Show' begins on BBC 2 on 11 June.
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