Saturday Morning Documentary: Paul Merton in China

16 07 2010
The funny Paul Merton

The funny Paul Merton

Who’s Paul Merton?  Well, for those of us North Americans, he is well-known in England as a comedian/occasional actor and his travels in China are unique and interesting, to say the least.  His goal was to explore China the unconventional way, avoiding the typical tourist attractions like the Great Wall to get a glimpse of the true heart of the country.  Merton’s charm and humor draw viewers in every episode and he serves as the perfect host for the series.  With only 4 episodes of his travels in China, he still manages to do quite a lot — from eating exotic and strange cuisine like a donkey’s penis in the first episode to buying a pair of fighting crickets that escape on the train to visiting a Shaolin temple complete with martial arts-practicing monks.

What makes this series unique is the people he meets along the way who are full of heart, full of stories that we never see in other travel shows.  The villagers in rural China who have lived that way are unsure of their children’s future as urban areas expand and cover their land is a sad an unfortunate situation — the traditional and the modern way in conflict.  Because it’s been a while since I’ve seen the series, I can’t fully recall all the things Paul does and all the people he meets but I can say that this is a fun, humorous series — like a B-sides disc to the more well-known album.  A definite favourite of mine to watch for the beautiful landscape and to take a look at the China people rarely, if ever, see.


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