Around the World in 80 Days is a BBC television travel series first broadcast in 1989. It was presented by comedian and actor Michael Palin. The show was inspired by Jules Verne's classic novel “Around the World in Eighty Days”, in which a character named Phileas Fogg accepts a wager to circumnavigate the globe in eighty days or less. Palin and his five-person film crew was given the same deadline, and not allowed to use any kind of transportation that did not exist in Jules Verne's time. He followed Phileas Fogg's route as closely as possible. Along the way he commentated on the sights and cultures he encountered. The programme was a critical and commercial success, winning strong ratings world wide.
“I’m still very fond of this trip. It started the ball rolling. I can’t quite believe that three people had already turned it down before me. When the BBC asked if I wanted to go round the world, all expenses paid, there seemed only one answer.
Not until dawn on the day of departure did a full-blown, gut-tightening panic set in. I had volunteered to deliver six fifty-minute documentaries, (having only done one in my life before), against the clock, with absolutely no script at all, on a route that might change without warning. Nothing like it had been attempted before. The panic lasted well over six minutes, but once on the Orient Express, waving farewell to friends and family didn’t feel so bad, and from then on, it was an eye-opening experience. Highlights for me included the passage through the Corinth canal, the week on the dhow, my first visit to China and a stunningly beautiful rail crossing of America. And, of course making it home with only half a day to spare. Perhaps the greatest satisfaction of all was that we brought home so much usable material that the BBC gave us seven shows instead of six, and the seventh pulled in an audience of over 12 million.”
Michael Palin, 25th September 2002