Michael Palin : New Europe

Sweet Sixteen

Exactly sixteen months after setting out on the first day of the first filming trip of our twenty-two week New Europe shoot, the results of our labours will hit the screens on BBC1 at 9 o'clock on Sunday 16th September. So, for any numerologists out there, sixteen is the number for New Europe.

A lot of behind-the-scenes work is going on at the moment as the finishing touches are put to the shows, and the series is handed over from the filming crew to the post-production team. Alex Richardson, our superhuman editor and Birmingham City supporter, has to complete the final edits - around 58 minutes per show for BBC1 and a shorter version for foreign sales. BBC1 gives us a nearly full hour, but there are very few television channels out there who don't want it chopped down for commercial breaks, promotional stuff etc. Which makes the DVD - with full-length shows, plus sequences we just didn't have space to squeeze in - such great VALUE. End of plug.

I have been writing and recording commentary. Each show has around two and a half thousand words of narration, and for me it's a very important part of the process, requiring a mix of tight, reduced information and a bit of fun as well. I like to try and make each episode into a story of its own and make sure the commentary captures the excitement of the filming. I still have commentary for Episode Seven left to record, after which my creative input into the series is over.

The commentary then goes into the general sound mix put together by Alex and Dubbing Mixer George Foulgham and his team. The music is added and the richness of our recordist John Pritchard's sound tracks are revealed as the various sounds of New Europe are balanced with words and music.

Then that's it. Sue Grant, our production manager, along with assistant Michelle Hanley, tie up all the paperwork and the finished product goes off to the BBC, and we all feel rather lost.

For me, the publicity now takes over. The book of New Europe is published on Thursday, so there's TV and book promotion to be done.

I don't mind doing it. It's part of the job, and book signings are about the only chance I have to meet the audience - hoping there will be one !

I hope that the incredibly concentrated work everyone has put in these past sixteen months (and for the directors even longer than that) produces something that you'll find interesting, entertaining, sometimes riveting and always good to look at. New Europe has been an eye-opener for me, and I hope that it will be for you too. These countries that have seemed so grey and indistinct are shown for what they really are, full of life, colour, great people and lots of energy and hope for the future. I'm just sorry, that even in seven episodes, we haven't had time to do justice to every one of the twenty countries we passed through, but those that don't get much on-screen time are in the book and on the DVD.

I've just come back from a week's publicity for my Diaries 1969-1979 in the States, and must thank anyone who came to the signings or talks in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. You were great audiences. Many of you had seen the travel series, but the fact remains that they've never been given the level of exposure on US television that they have here, and as they keep appearing on different cable channels, it's been difficult to build up an audience.

Our latest home is the Travel Channel, but at the time of writing I've heard no word on when they plan to screen New Europe. Any feedback from US fans would be very welcome !

So, now I'm off to bite my nails and hope for the best on Sunday the sixteenth !

Talk soon,

um e-mail que eu recebi bem como os restantes membros do mailling list do Michael palin e que aqui partilho

coloquei um coment a este post que poderam ver como complemento a este e que optei nao o colocar na primeira pagina do blog para nao sobrecarregar

Guia dos episodios da serie "New Europe" :

1: War & Peace, 16 September, 9PM, BBC 1 "Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Albania. From high in the spectacular Julian Alps of Slovenia, Michael heads to the stunning Dalmatian coast and goes on a tour of the ancient port of Split in Croatia. "
2: Eastern Delight, 23 September, 9PM, BBC1"Palin uncovers Bulgaria and Turkey in the second episode."
3: Wild East, 30 September, 9PM, BBC1"For the third episode, Palin heads north once more, over the border into Romania and then on to Hungary."
4: Danube to Dnieper, 7 October, 9PM, BBC1"Passing through the little-known country of Moldova, we come next to the largest country in Europe: Ukraine. Here traditional churches, monasteries and sacred sites provide a contrast to the notorious, but compelling, landmark of Chernobyl."
5: Baltic Summer, 14 October, 9PM, BBC1"Next Palin takes us to the cluster of small Baltic countries nestled in the far northeastern corner of Europe."
6: From Pole to Pole, 21 October, 9PM, BBC1"The next stop en route is Poland."
7: Journey's End, 28 October, 9PM, BBC1"In the final leg of the journey, Palin crosses into the Tatra mountains of Slovakia before descending and passing through the Czech Republic and up into East Germany."

ver entrada : "New Europe Excerpts in The Daily Mail" no blog que faço referencia para ouvir excertos do livro sobre as viagens

ver o site oficial das viagens do michael palin: http://www.palinstravels.co.uk/
e o Blog : http://michael-palins-new-europe-fan-blog.blogspot.com/

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Michael Palin explores a New Europe

Michael Palin meets ordinary and extraordinary people on his travels
In his latest television series Michael Palin has travelled throughout Eastern Europe to explore how the region and its people have developed since the fall of the Berlin Wall almost two decades ago.
New Europe, as the title suggests, is about the vigour and vitality of that half of Europe which has, for most of my lifetime been seen as grey, secretive and unwelcoming.

I am happy to report that almost everywhere we went in the 20 countries of our journey, there was evidence that people were pleased to see us, anxious to talk to us and full of stories to tell.

Michael Palin's New Europe
Sundays, 2100BST, BBC One
Begins 16 September

These ranged from older people who had lived through scarcely believable suffering, like Prague-born Lisa Mikova, to those who have only read about the old divided Europe in books, like Anya Mamenko in Ukraine, a 21-year-old who in perfect English justified the non-removal of a huge statue of Lenin in her home city of Yalta with the wise words "You can't tear a page out of history".

Freedom to talk

Tearing pages out reminds me of how close we were to history.

I could talk about almost anything to almost anyone

The classic photograph of the Nazi book-burning in Berlin was taken a few yards away from where, a few months ago, I sat sipping coffee and having a civilised chat with a local author about the difference between the English and German sense of humour.

His basic thesis was that Germans laughed from a position of authority at those below them, and the British laughed from below at those above them.

The fact that I could talk about almost anything to almost anyone is something that recent European history keeps telling us is not to be taken for granted.

Lisa Mikova survived both Auschwitz and the Dresden bombing

When Lisa Mikova, an immaculately dressed and extraordinarily energetic 86-year old, was the same age as Ukrainian Lydia her life could not have been more different.

In 1939 the Nazis arrived in Prague, and being Jewish, Lisa suddenly found herself excluded from her school and banned from swimming pools, theatres and cinemas.

Forced out of her family home, she was sent to Terezin, a 'model' camp north of Prague in which the Nazis used to make propaganda films to hoodwink the Red Cross.

From there she was sent to Auschwitz before being moved in cattle trucks to an aircraft factory in Dresden.

When the infamous Allied bombing raid of February 1945 hit Dresden she and her fellow workers were locked inside their factory.

"We were so happy when we saw the English planes," she told me.

Lisa has now joined with a group of fellow-survivors to talk to the younger generation about what she saw and experienced.

Soviet times

"We are the last generation they can ask," she says.

This sense of change and loss and re-adjustment was a constant theme.

The more I talked to people in Eastern Europe the more I realised how historical enmities were manipulated on both sides

I met very few who talked with real anger about the Soviet times. And a number who had very surreal memories.

Mira Staleva in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, remembered being a Young Pioneer and having to learn to strip down Kalashnikov rifles at school.

"You go in the classroom and there are 30 Kalashnikovs on the desks."

It was inculcated into her that she must always be ready. She was never told what for but it was the happiest time of her life.

"When someone is trying to force you to do something, you find different ways of escape."

Tanks and Transvestites

Azis (centre) represented Bulgaria in the Eurovision Song Contest
Bulgaria's hugely popular transvestite, gypsy, turbo-rock star Azis was also a Young Pioneer, but he told me he always wanted to wear the girls uniform.

The more I talked to people in Eastern Europe the more I realised how historical enmities were manipulated on both sides.

In eastern Germany, just on the Polish border, I was given a lesson in how to drive a Russian T-55 tank, at a school run by two brothers.

One of them, Axel Heyse, was a middle-aged, rather dashing man, who was funny and friendly and very easy to talk to.

I realised that for much of my life he was vilified as "the enemy", and the tank he was teaching me to drive was, I was continuously told, a threat to my entire way of life.

Now, as I grated my way through the gears, we just laughed together.

Taking a lesson in how to drive a Soviet-built T-55 tank

It is difficult to forget the past because so many of the worst excesses are, rather admirably, documented and in some places like The House Of Terror in Budapest, unflinchingly displayed.

In East Germany the extensive files kept by the Stasi (the secret police) are available for anyone to see, and even those that the Stasi shredded when they knew their number was up are being patiently re-assembled.

Rich and poor

There seems no vindictiveness in all this. It comes from the feeling that the ideological, totalitarian regimes were wrong, and the more we can know and see about how and why they were wrong, the better.

The new free economies have their own problems

I talked more about the past to people because no-one is really sure what the future holds.

Things are changing so fast. Romanians and Bulgarians found themselves full members of the European Union as we were filming.

Most think this will transform their countries. And, most importantly, it will win them back some international respect.

But the new free economies have their own problems.

The rich are getting very rich and the poor are generally worse off than before.

Without the protective subsidies small farmers in places like Moldova can no longer make any money and more and more of the adults have to find work abroad.

We filmed a very moving play performed by children in a Moldovan village showing how the young girls who are left behind by parents desperate to earn money abroad are highly vulnerable to sex-traffickers.

And the sex-traffickers are usually people not just from their own country but from their own village.

It will take a generation or more before the cruel history of much of Eastern and Central Europe works its way through the system, but things move much faster when people talk to each other.

Michael Palin's New Europe is on Sundays at 2100BST on BBC One from 16 September.

in: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6968450.stm