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November 2019

Issue: November 2019

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Welcome to a world of travel, entertainment and culture, curated from a global collective of writers, photojournalists and artists. Each article of our award-winning magazine is sure to inspire, no matter which of our destinations you call home.
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Travel to Istanbul


TV is a lie

1 November 2019

Dom Joly has wised up to the atravel TV trade

I find it difficult to say no to an adventure. This is why I found myself walking from Belgrade to Istanbul for a television project last month. I’d actually driven the route before when, in 2015, I took my wife and two kids on a mammoth road trip from the Cotswolds to Istanbul and back on what our friends jokingly called “The Big Divorce Tour.”

It took long enough by car so the idea of walking it was rather daunting. Fortunately, television is an impatient beast, and I was only to do the interesting sections, with the so-called “dull” bits being skipped by way of a minibus.

Television has been forced to become more transparent and honest over recent years, but travel TV still appears to be exempt from this. Travel shows still pretend that you bumped into your local fixer by chance in the insect market rather than having actually met for breakfast in your hotel.

Travel TV hates mentioning that you are journeying with a massive crew so that when Michael Palin is rushing to catch a “vital” train connection from Alexandria and just makes it, nobody talks about who took the beautiful shots of the train shunting off in to the sunset. Travel TV loves sunsets… and sunrises.

In fact, when you are making a show you often find yourself arriving in a beautiful place like Edirne at about three in the afternoon, eagerly anticipating a shower and a couple of restorative beverages only to be halted by the director, who wants you to enter town under a setting sun. This means sitting by the side of the road for three hours or so until the sun and the director are in alignment. You start to long for heavily clouded days.

Recently there has been a new bad guy on the travel TV scene – the drone. Undoubtedly these magic machines afford viewers spectacular views of the action and scenery, but they are also, unfortunately, another hindrance to spontaneity. The amount of times that I did a particular stretch of – often rather steep – hiking, only to be asked to retrace my steps and do it again so that we could get the drone shots. If I had my life again and I could choose what I would like to be, I could do a lot worse than become a drone operator. These guys are flown around the world to sit and operate their impressive toys from the comfort of a van while we trudge like solider ants far below their all-seeing lenses.

On this recent trip they seriously missed a trick. The real action and gossip all happened in the minibus between shoots. We’d slag off the powers-that-be, bicker with each other and tell libellous celebrity stories that would make even Rebekah Vardy blush. If they had just placed a couple of cameras in there they would have had a totally different show, but it would have been the unvarnished truth and TV, in general, prefers the lie.