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Monday, 23 February 2009

Britain’s Best Drives, BBC4

Did we like it?
Richard Wilson is a hilarious guide to Britain's byways.

What was good about it?
• The wood-panelled Morris Traveller Wilson drove around North Yorkshire from Scarborough (“As British as sausage and mash or Winston Churchill”) to Whitby (“Goth capital of the world”) via the “quintessential British countryside”of Dalby Forest. Probably the loveliest car of all time.
• Wilson is very warm (with only one Victor Meldrew-ish snipe at the bathers on Scarborough beach who “liked to enjoy their food”). Watching him watching a recreation of a navel battle in a Scarborough theme park and making gentle asides to the camera was hilarious. And his openminded encounter with a group of Whitby's Goth population was a lesson in how TV travellers should deal with strange cultures. The Goth-Whitby connection goes back to the days of Bram Stoker; nowadays they remain in the town because it is quiet and trouble-free.
• The jaunty music and the rather stiff readings from old motoring guides
• The man on the pilgrimage to Goathland, the village that is Aidensfield in ITV’s Heartbeat, who still came year after year even though he didn't like the series anymore.

What was bad about it?
• We fear for the Morris Traveller's gearbox. Wilson, who only drives automatic cars, had to learn quickly how to master manual as he crunched his way through the countryside. Eventually, he was forced to give up trying to manouevre the vehicle up a steep Whitby incline. Fortunately, one of the Goths was adept at hill starts. “You never know when a mohican-haired vintage car enthusiast will come in handy," said a grateful Wilson.

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