16 February 2009, 18:15
This brand new series sees comedian Billy Connolly turn explorer, as he embarks on a rare and remote journey – attempted and failed by hundreds before him – through the treacherous Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
In Billy Connolly: Journey to the Edge of the World, Billy negotiates the much coveted passage inside the Arctic Circle which is choked with impenetrable ice for most of the year.
The fabled passage through the Arctic Ocean was sought after for five centuries as a commercial sea route and claimed hundreds of lives of those trying to discover a navigable way through, but now global warming means that for a few weeks in the summer the ice melts and gives Billy a chance to make an extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime journey.
Motivated by a desire to live out his boyhood dreams before he gets too old – and to have a laugh – Billy spends 10 weeks making the 10,000 mile trip from Nova Scotia to the Pacific by, by sea, road and air, acting as a tour guide for viewers in his own unique way.
Throughout his epic adventure, he shares his thoughts, his unexpected encounters and his memorable experiences, from his constant fear of coming face to face with a bear to taking part in a gruelling First Nations sweat lodge ritual and from spotting whales in Newfoundland to panning for gold in the Yukon.
Along the way Billy also vividly tells stories of men who pioneered sections of his journey, which owes much of its legendary status to their successes and failures.
But Billy’s voyage is as much about life today in some of the most remote and unforgiving territories on earth. The cameras follow him as he discovers that although the ice may be melting away, an incredible range of communities and characters remain amid the awesome scenery on his path across the top of the world.
He says: “I’m heading into the great unknown – where the going gets tougher. I’m going to show you places that are bleak and weird. I’ll introduce you to a culture that I just love. I’m following in the footsteps of the great explorers; and I’m going to have a laugh – on my Journey to the Edge of the World.
“I have a personal liking for the Arctic. I love the silence. And there is a breadth and a height to the Arctic that just has to be seen, felt and heard to be believed. It is the most extraordinary corner of the world, it’s every bit as dramatic as going deep into water. It’s every bit as foreign as that when you find yourself confronted with enormous space and a silence that you think you can hear.
“I like the people who live there and I like the world. I like the positive side of the world, I like to see the world chugging along the way it should be chugging along.”
Last updated: 19 February 2009, 16:19