Yesterday’s Syria

I don’t watch an awful lot of TV. When I do, it has to be good, or I’ll switch off. Mentally first, then with the remote. I want to be entertained or informed. Or both. I like my imagination to be tickled with intelligent science fiction series or films. I’d love to visit Mars, but as that isn’t likely I’ll let Matt Damon give me the tour.

I like to watch documentaries exploring the history of humans on planet Earth, themselves exploring the four corners of the globe. And I like to watch the adventures of modern travellers and explorers who traipse from the equator to the poles to being the world into our living room. Simon Reeve has produced some great series over the last decade and a bit. And then there’s David Attenborough, who was chasing feathered wonders through tropical jungles before I was even born.

Now and again there are one off shows by celebrities who go off on a grand tour of their own ego, disguised as a travel program. And now and again, one of them produces something really worthwhile. I’ll offer up Dom Joly, one of my favourite ‘British’ comedians as the prime example. To be fair, he’s  done a few travel based shows. But I’d like to show you one in particular. It was a one hour show made in the mid 2000s. I saw it at the time and have been looking for it ever since, to watch again. My search recently came up trumps.

Joly was born in Beirut, and his Excellent Adventure sees him go back to his roots and back to his favourite childhood vacation spots. Places like Aleppo, Raqqa and Palmyra in Syria. Have you ever been to any of them? No? Too late. This, sadly, is likely as close to seeing these wonderful places in their former glory as you’ll get.

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