Dom Joly: A fortnight in Chernobyl is my idea of a holiday

Related Topics

I've been looking back at my life, this past week. I'm not in therapy or anything, although hints to this effect are constantly being sprinkled all about me by the people who know me best.

I've been editing some of the best bits from my various DVDs with a view to writing some kind of "show and tell" lecture that I can tour the country with. In some senses it's no more than a slightly ambitious version of a bore showing their friends all their holiday snaps. You know the type, he turns up with some kind of amateur slide-show and you have to sit through an hour of every single move he and his wife made on their recent birdwatching holiday to Costa Rica.

I'm fortunate in that travelling for television nearly always puts you into extraordinary or at the very least interesting situations. On top of which you have the benefit of a professional team recording your "holiday snaps". If the truth be told, I now find travelling without the back-up of a production team a big let-down. It's like once you've turned left on a plane – it's always difficult to go back.

Travelling with a TV show comes with all sorts of fringe benefits. You have a ready-made gang to hang out with. Camera operators and sound people are very much of a uniformly gregarious type – they have to be to survive and be rehired. As well as this bunch of instant friends, you normally get a local fixer. Not only are they the butt of most of your jokes, they also get you into places usually well out of bounds to tourists. You're allowed into national monuments before hoi polloi and always travel about in some fun and "colourful" vehicle as television doesn't like mini-buses. Basically you are very spoilt.

It's only when I look back that I realise how lucky I've been to have so many extraordinary experiences. Just a random flick through my visual travel archive revealed mini-helicopter rides over the Australian Outback in search of rogue crocodiles, standing on top of the Grand Canyon with a huge rocket strapped to my back, the Taj Mahal at dawn, skiing dangerously down a volcano in Nicaragua on sharp black ash ... I've realised that my entire comedy career has been geared around blagging as many foreign trips as I could. Now it's all so clear – I've just been trying to steal Michael Palin's job by pretending to be a comedian and sneaking up on him on the blind side.

I've always had wanderlust – when I was a kid I wanted to visit every single country in the world (I still do) and I used to memorise all the capitals. I now do this with my own kids and wonder whether I'm somehow imbuing them with my wanderlust. It's a strong family gene; Stacey travelled around the world for 15 years or so before settling down with me. I wonder whether our kids will be able to travel as much when they're older?

It's most likely that climate change will completely change travel patterns. And maybe that is no bad thing. I am writing a travel book this year called The Dark Tourist. It tackles my penchant for visiting slightly macabre destinations. I'm off to some places that I really thought I'd never see – Guyana, Rwanda, Chernobyl – and I'm stupidly excited about all of them, partly because they're a bit off the beaten track.

I like the road "less travelled", in Robert Frost's words.

Maybe in the future tourist traps like Spain and Greece will become exotic destinations again as package tours disappear. I've no idea, but I do know how fortunate I am to live in a time when I still can travel to all these weird and wonderful places – especially if it's being paid for by a TV company.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul falls: Talk of Iraq retaking the town, held by IS since June, is unconvincing  

Isis on the run? The US portrayal is very far from the truth

Patrick Cockburn
Ed Miliband:  

Ed Miliband: I pledge to make Britain a more just and equal country

Ed Miliband
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk