2011 Archived News

Joanna Lumley Greek Odyssey

Series synopsis:

Joanna Lumley sets out to explore one of the most diverse and surprising countries in Europe, where much of western civilisation began. On her odyssey, Joanna encounters both the ancient and modern aspects of Greece, touching on how the origins of drama, democracy, science, philosophy and medicine can be found here, and how they have left an enduring legacy on the fabric of our everyday life.

Following in the footsteps of the ancient Greeks, she visits some of the most significant sites of their empire, exploring the history, gods, beliefs, myths and legends which hail from this profoundly significant chapter in European history. Delphi, Ancient Olympia, the Gates of Hades and Mount Olympus all feature within her travels. So too does the British influence on this land, from the occupation of Corfu to its connection with the most romantic of all poets, Lord Byron.

Joanna provides a glimpse of the diversity of cultures within Greece and provides an insight into the range of lifestyles existing there today. She meets Nana Mouskouri, the most famous of all Greek singers, who performs for Joanna at Epidaurus, and the flower-throwing hedonistic nightclub goers of Athens, as well as venturing off the beaten tourist trail to find the remote villagers of the Mani Peninsular who eek out a living from the land, cooking wild asparagus picked fresh from the hillside. She spends time with the shepherds of Crete whose forefathers helped defeat the Nazis, meets a rare breed of islanders who are continuing to speak with one another using an old language based on whistling, and she explores the remote border lands of Greece, home to established Muslim communities who grow tobacco to make a living.


www.itv.com

Episode 1, Thursday 13 October,  9 pm  on ITV

THE LAND OF THE ANCIENT GREEKS

Joanna begins her Greek odyssey at the Parthenon in Athens, which was created by the ancient Greeks two and a half thousand years ago. This was the dawn of western civilisation, which saw the birth of democracy, language, science and medicine.

From here Joanna travels around the southern region of Greece from Athens to the Peloponnese, visiting spectacular mythical and historic sites left by this great civilisation. These were places of theatre, death, sport and religion to the Ancients and they represent the very cornerstone of this empire. The Greeks flocked to these sites and Joanna follows in their footsteps.

En route she meets modern Greeks who are still influenced by this ancient era.

From the marble cutters on the Acropolis who continue to use the same tools as their ancestors, to the Englishman who now worships the god of Apollo at Greece’s most sacred place, Delphi.

Joanna’s route takes her off the tourist trail to places where ancient myths and cultures live on. She meets villagers who communicate by whistling, a lady who lives a solitary life in an almost deserted village, surviving by eating wild plants and shrubs and a fisherman who takes her to the gates of Hades, the underworld, where the Ancients went when they died. Joanna finds inspiration in the isolated peninsula of the Mani, where its haunting tower house settlements and barren landscape seem unchanged for centuries.

Joanna also takes part in a Bouzoukia, a hugely popular singing club where, in a modern twist on an old tradition, the audience spends a fortune on flowers that they throw in appreciation.

And finally Joanna meets perhaps one of the most famous singers in the world, Nana Mouskouri, at Epidaurus, one of the best surviving amphitheatres, where, in order to demonstrate the perfect acoustics, Nana gives a rare performance to Joanna.