Television programmes to give you wanderlust this week

Simon Horsford
Ben Fogle explores Cambodia this week - © 2009 :: Artie | Photography ::

Saturday December 2

Galapagos - Islands of Change: Natural World (BBC Two, 7.30pm)

From enormous tortoises and deep-diving lizards to fish-eating snakes and birds that hunt giant, venomous centipedes, the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands is unique and bizarre. However, the wilderness that inspired Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution is becoming ever-more crowded due to increased migration and tourism. David Attenborough narrates this documentary, which examines how the Pacific archipelago's animals are adapting to their changing circumstances. Repeat

The Mekong River with Sue Perkins (BBC Four, 8pm)

The comedian concludes her epic journey along the South- east Asian river as she follows it through China's wildest and most spectacular valleys on her way to the Mekong's source in the Himalayas. Repeat

Fishermen on the Mekong Credit: Getty

Sunday December 3

Countryfile (BBC One, 7.30pm)

Helen Skelton and Sean Fletcher explore the Cleveland Way. Skelton meets a group of marathon runners and a scout team who have taken responsibility for a stretch of the area, while Fletcher finds out about a local oral history project and joins a wildlife photographer documenting leaping salmon.

Blue Planet II (BBC Two, 8pm)

At the coast, two worlds collide. Coasts is the story of how our Blue Planet's wildlife survives in this ever-changing world. It's a roller-coaster ride of heart-stopping action and epic drama, with characters from the beautiful to bizarre.

Sixty-kilogram tuna are far too fast for sea lions to catch, but the sea lions herd their prey as a team. Trapped in the shallows, the fish are easy pickings.

Land crabs leap from rock to rock, desperately avoiding the water. Moray eels launch themselves from rock pools to attack. They, like octopuses, will crawl across dry rock in search of prey.

After a 60-mile return flight, a puffin returns with one precious beak-full of food. But now returning puffins must fight dramatic duels with fast and aerobatic skuas to deliver the food to their pufflings.

In the Pacific, the bizarre Leaping Blenny lives above the tideline in miniature caves. A male tries to attract a mate - but waves are a constant hindrance. These are fish that hate water.

Turkey with Simon Reeve (BBC Two, 7pm)

Simon Reeve travels along the Black Sea Coast to the capital of Ankara and the Northern Highlands, witnessing first hand the aftermath of fighting in Kurdish areas and meeting a conservationist attempting to preserve the region's brown bears. He then returns to Istanbul, where he takes part in a popular TV series set in the palace of the Ottoman Sultans. Repeat

Ankara Credit: muratart - Fotolia/Murat Erhan Okcu

Coastal Railways with Julie Walters (Channel 4, 8pm)

The actress travels from Newcastle to Edinburgh by high speed train. Along the way, she stops off at the coastal town of Alnmouth, discovers where the phrase Keep Calm and Carry On originated, visits the world's biggest gannet colony, and goes out to sea with a lobster breeder. When she reaches her destination, she discovers the connection between the railway and the famous Balmoral Hotel.

Monday December 4

The Real Marigold on Tour (BBC One, 8pm)

After exploring what it's like to grow old in India, Miriam Margolyes, Wayne Sleep, Rosemary Shrager and Bobby George are reunited for another global adventure, beginning by sampling retirement in Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan province. It is a bustling city of more than 14 million people, and everyone finds the language barrier difficult, while Margolyes in particular struggles with the regional cuisine.

Chengdu, China Credit: Sean Pavone Photo 2014

Mexico: Earth's Festival of Life (BBC Four, 8pm)

The first of three programmes about the country's wildlife, landscape and culture explores the Sierra Madre mountain chain, home to black bears and monarch butterflies. Repeat

Concorde: Designing the Dream (Five, 9pm)

First of a two-part documentary in which aircraft designers, pilots and passengers tell the story of how the Anglo-French Concorde saw off competition from the Americans and Soviets to become the world's first supersonic passenger airliner. Michael Heseltine describes how the Americans made it impossible for Concorde to be sold to any other airlines other than the national carriers of Britain and France, and even went so far as to try and ban it from the route it had been designed for  London to New York

The Art That Made Mexico: Paradise, Power and Prayers (BBC Four, 9pm)

Alinka Echeverria explores the three major forces that have shaped Mexican art, as well as the country itself, beginning by exploring the influence of nature and land

21 reasons why Mexico should be your next holiday destination

Tuesday December 5

Rick Stein's Road to Mexico (BBC Two, 9pm)

The chef lands in the town that placed tequila on the map and explores Guadalajara, the city that gave the rest of the world Mariachis and dishes like carne con chilli. He also can't resist a visit to Casa Kimberly, bought by Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor, and where they still serve her favourite cocktail, a chocolate martini.

Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild (Five, 9pm)

Ben Fogle travels to Cambodia to live with a fellow Brit who is raising his own castaway tribe, joining his renegade host as he defends the precious sea-life around him. They go diving to see the wildlife he is trying to protect, and on night patrol to ward off illegal fishermen, discovering island bunkers from the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, and experiencing how fragile life is for this family.

Wednesday December 6

Gino's Italian Coastal Escape (ITV, 8pm)

Gino D’Acampo returns to the bay of Naples, the area of Italy that he grew up in, home to pizza, street food and a fantastic array of seafood. Here, the chef demonstrates how to make a Neapolitan breakfast, prepares a classic fish dish on a rooftop, before heading to the foothills of Mount Vesuvius. Then, the chef heads back to the coast to whip up a romantic dinner for two.

The Channel: The World's Busiest Waterway (Channel 4, 9pm)

This episode explores areas of The English Channel that have never been filmed before. The programme follows the work of British head of maintenance who is charged with keeping the tunnel moving - and one of its longest-serving engineers, who helped to build the Tunnel back in 1988.

The world's most beautiful rivers

Thursday December 7

Great Canal Journeys (Channel 4, 8pm)

Timothy West and Prunella Scales return to Wales to explore a canal that has eluded them for more than half a century. The Monmouthshire and Brecon canal is cut off from the rest of Britain's network of waterways by the Black Mountains, and meanders its way through the tranquil Usk valley. Along the way the couple visit the old ironworks at Blaenavon, where children as young as five were once put to work, and lend a hand with some lock restoration work. They also explore the 15th-century castle at Tretower - which is rumoured to be haunted.

Friday December 8

Brunel: The Man Who Built Britain (Five, 8pm)

Rob Bell explores the work of Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, his complex personality as well as his prolific achievements. In the opening episode, Bell examines Brunel's first major project, the Thames Tunnel, before he went on to secure the post of official engineer to the proposed Great Western Railway.