Press Centre

Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road Adventure

  • Episode: 

    2 of 4

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Wed 19 Sep 2018
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 38 2018 : Sat 15 Sep - Fri 21 Sep
  • Channel: 

    ITV
The information contained herein is embargoed from all Press, online, social media, non-commercial publication or syndication - in the public domain - until Tuesday 11 September 2018.
 
Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road Adventure
 
Series overview
 
“I’m embarking on a 7000-mile journey following the route of the legendary Silk Road, that throughout history helped spread all manner of foods, inventions and cultures across Asia and Europe...my most adventurous and exotic journey yet.” Joanna Lumley 
 
This epic new four-part series is Joanna Lumley’s grandest and most challenging journey yet, a breath-taking odyssey from Venice to the Chinese border along the veins of the ancient Silk Road.
 
A perilous network of paths, the Silk Road shaped the modern world, bringing silk, printing, spices, gunpowder, and many other things, to the West. Joanna’s adventure will see her travel through a breath-taking array of fabulous landscapes as she crosses continents, deserts, mountains and steppe, boldly following in the footsteps of the merchants, conquerors, kings and pilgrims who once lived and died along this route.
 
Episode 2
 
In episode two, Joanna continues her adventure following the ancient Silk Road from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, across the rapidly changing post-Soviet states of Georgia and Azerbaijan. Joanna kicks off her journey in the brash, booming seaside resort of Batumi, where post-Soviet era new money has seen casinos and high-rise hotels built alongside old Soviet tenement blocks. It’s a huge change from when it was a small backwater and the border to Turkey was closed. 
 
Joanna travels to Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. It too has hints of the old Soviet occupation, but its name is derived from the Georgian for ‘warm’, a nod to the 30 hot springs which provided respite for weary Silk Road travellers. There are also hints of the city’s 19th century days of splendour, and Joanna visits the Kipshitzes family, who have spent 20 years restoring the family home to its former glory, making it the last intact, 19th century townhouse in the whole of Tbilisi. 
 
In Tbilisi, Joanna meets former model Tako Chkeidze, who has masterminded Tbilisi fashion week to learn how she navigated a career under Communist rule and during the civil war. Modelling was far from people’s minds when there was not even electricity or bread to eat. 
 
Lastly in the capital, Joanna visits the Sukhishvili Dance Company, a fantastic example of how Georgian culture has kept going through centuries of war and occupation. Joanna meets Nino Sukhishvili, the company manager, to watch a rehearsal of dances inspired by a different region of the country or a different chapter of Georgian history. Folk dancing is so popular in Georgia that one in three children takes lessons.
 
Joanna says: “I adore watching rehearsals, I adore watching the muscles and the energy and the dedication and the brilliance. And at the heart of it is Georgia, keeping Georgia’s identity alive. Every part of it was ravishing…In my next incarnation I shall be a dancer.”
 
From Tbilisi, Joanna heads into the magnificent, snow-crested peaks of the High Caucasus to Svaneti, one of the most remote regions in Georgia. Because of its isolation, the Georgian kings of the Middle Ages would send their treasure here for safekeeping, and a unique culture developed, untouched by the outside world. In the village of Langami Joanna meets Rezo Kholejani who shows her the tiny Church of Christ, which has stood here for over 1000 years. 
 
In the region, Joanna discovers how the old trading pathways are being restored – she walks a part of the Transcaucasian trail, a walking route that allows visitors to follow in the footsteps of the original Silk Road traders and see the mountains for themselves. She ends her visit to Svaneti by staying overnight with the only remaining residents of Kichkuldashi, Valeri and Maro Vibliani, who decided to remain in the village after a devastating avalanche in 1987.
 
Joanna says: “My Grandmother said you can’t live on views alone, but there’s something about this place that restores the soul.”
 
Next, Joanna travels to Khaketi, Georgia’s most famous wine region. The tradition of making wine there goes back even further than the Georgian nation itself. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of people making wine here 8000 years ago.  Joanna meets Shota Lagazidze, who, at just 28, is one of Georgia’s most talked about wine growers, whose methods have changed little from that of thousands of years ago, grapes are fermented with the skin on, and in pots buried underground. 
 
Khaketi is also home to Lamara Beshshvili, a young woman who is reviving the silk trade in the village of Magaro, she harvests silk from silk worms. Joanna sees her small operation in action, from silk worms eating mulberry leaves to the finished product, silk thread. 
 
Joanna is very taken with the silkworms: “These little darlings have made people richer than a King’s ransom…just by producing what’s natural to them and to us is desired, silk. I’m wearing one as a brooch because I’ve become very attached.”
 
Over the border in Azerbaijan, a country of nearly 10 million people between Russia and Iran, Joanna discovers a lush and green land. Her first stop is Sheki, where artisan crafts and the renowned silk industry attracted huge merchant caravans from Europe and across central Asia. Joanna visits a caravanserai here and the grand palace of the Khans, the 18th century Persian rulers of Azerbaijan.
 
Moving further eastward, Joanna stops in the village of Kelagayi, for some silk scarf shopping. The scarves produced here are unique to Azerbaijan. Finally Joanna arrives in Baku, on the Caspian Sea, the last port of call on her adventure through Georgia and Azerbaijan. The glittering skyline and ambitious new architecture have given it the moniker ‘The Dubai of the Caucasus.’ Joanna is shown around the $7000 a night Royal Suite in the Fairmont Hotel, at the top of Baku’s iconic Flame Towers, undergoes a bizarre folk ritual and overcomes her fear of heights to walk on the roof of Baku’s latest construction marvel, the $300 million Caspian waterfront complex.
 
Produced by Burning Bright for ITV.