This episode explores how the success of Around the World in 80 Days opened the door for Michael Palin to tackle an even more ambitious journey for his next series. In Pole to Pole, Michael followed the line of 30-degree-east longitude from North Pole to South, an incredibly challenging route across the USSR, Africa and finally Antarctica.\n\nIn the Arctic, Michael meets a solitary trapper who hunts for survival. Then, entering the USSR for the first time, Michael encounters the reality of life and bureaucracy under communism as he visits markets and tries to get a token to allow him to buy vodka. A detour to Chernobyl gives him a sobering insight into that disaster and its effects, but overall it is the warmth of the Russian and Ukrainian people that is the dominant memory he takes away. Two days after he leaves, there is a coup against Gorbachev, and the Soviet system starts to unravel - a truly historical moment. \n\nIn Turkey, Michael relaxes with a bath and massage that turns out to be more vigorous than he had bargained for. Then he tackles the biggest challenge of all – Africa. From Egypt, where he spends time with some tourists from his own hometown of Sheffield, Michael travels south through Sudan, where few tourists ever venture. Travelling by train across the desert to Khartoum, he has a magical experience riding on the roof and meeting the passengers who travel up there for free. But then the reality of war-torn Africa hits home as he is prevented from travelling south along the route he had chosen. A trip across Sudan by jeep sees Michael almost get stuck in a volatile recent war zone, but he presses on through the heart of the continent to South Africa, to meet a ship that will take him to the Antarctic. But Michael faces one final obstacle. Having failed to secure passage, he is forced to fly to Chile to make a new connection and complete his epic journey to the South Pole.
Source: BBC 2