Michael Portillo's Mallorcan railway adventures on TV this month
Last April and May the production crew of one of Britain's most popular factual TV programmes, Great Continental Railway Journeys, filmed in Mallorca along with amiable presenter Michael Portillo. Portillo's a former high ranking Conservative politician turned TV host and style icon, known for ploughing a lonely fashion furrow through a technicolour array of jackets and trousers.
The programme, and this is the fourth series, is shown in many countries and follows railway routes set out in George Bradshaw's guide, published in 1913. Armed only with his 'Bradshaw' and a first class degree in history from Cambridge, Portillo paints an interesting picture of a Europe on the cusp of the Great War, and in the case of this episode – Barcelona to Mallorca – the roots of the Spanish Civil War.
If you didn't already know, Portillo (the name's a clue) is half Spanish, his father being a Republican refugee from the war which split the family in twain. A fluent Spanish speaker, he finds 'a nation fractured at the time by social tensions and regional loyalties, which today offers a rich diversity of cultures to delight the tourist,' according to the BBC.
Here in Mallorca, Bradshaw points him in the direction of the Palma to Soller railway, constructed the year before the guide was written, and the old tram which runs down to the port. With much of the original rolling stock still being used on the tracks Sr. Portillo will be able to experience the same conditions and sensations felt by travellers at the time the guide was written – just like we can today!
The programme is on BBC2 on Friday 27th November at 21:00 and will appear on the BBC iPlayer after transmission.