If the mere sight of Michael Palin striding purposefully towards the camera across some foreign terrain is enough to send you into fits of delight, then Sahara is just for you. Following on from his three pan-global expeditions, Palin is back on the exploration trail. This time it's traversing the Sahara desert; travelling from Gibraltar through Tangiers and the Arab world down through Africa and some of the most inhospitable conditions on the planet. The formula that Palin established in Around The World In Eighty Days has hardly been tampered with, but Sahara is proof that there are few better exponents of the travelogue. Palin is an engaging host, far more attractive than the extreme survival merchants, walking the fine line between experienced traveller and slightly eccentric Englishman abroad. The programme also strikes a perfect balance between grand visual gestures (the camerawork is simply stunning) and focusing on the individual lives that characterise the region, all underpinned by Palin's unique brand of humour. This is one to return to again and again.
On the DVD:Sahara comes in at a mere four one-hour episodes and the producers were left with a huge amount of unused footage. Thus the DVD features a large selection of deleted scenes, all linked by Palin. The excellent set of extras also includes a collection of rough video diaries--mainly featuring Palin being pummelled by the elements--and an extensive interview with the presenter. The picture quality is fantastic (particularly compared to Palin's earlier series), as is the digital sound. There is a subtitle option and scene selection and the whole package is thoroughly recommended. --Phil Udell
These discs are (PAL) format, and will work on all modern Australian & European DVD players.