It already feels like a long winter (and for some it feels like a long year) and it’s still only February.
With lots more chilly weather forecast, it felt like an apposite time to highlight 10 TV shows that are all about ‘getting away from it all’.
Here are 10 TV picks to whisk you away with a mixture of delightful company, magnificent scenery, and edge-of-the-seat thrills. And, just occasionally, all three at the same time.
And don’t worry, you won’t have to move a muscle. Well, apart from making a hot drink, maybe.
Extraordinary Escapes with Sandi Toksvig - Channel 4
Sandi Toksvig and four ‘wonderful women’ take us to some awe-inspiring places around the UK in this new four-part series which begins on Channel 4 on Wednesday [10 February].
The former Great British Bake Off presenter travels to some of the country’s wildest, most remote and frankly beautiful holiday homes beginning in Suffolk where she is joined by Alison Steadman.
And while the places they travel to are quite stunning, the show is really all about Toksvig and the fun she has with her travelling companions, who will also include Jessica Hynes, Sindhu Vee and Prue Leith. An absolute delight.
What they say: ‘About as lovely a TV programme as you could wish to see. Silly, funny and infectious.’ Saga
Six Nations Rugby - ITV
There’s nothing like live sport to take you away from everything else that’s going on and just like England’s cricket tour to India (see below) this year’s Six Nations promises to be a big draw.
ITV has a total of eight fixtures from the tournament, including all of England, Ireland and Italy’s home matches, ending with England’s trip to Dublin on 20 March.
England started the tournament as favourites, but if their historic opening day defeat by Scotland (broadcast on ITV) is anything to go by, it’s probably best to expect the unexpected.
What they say: ‘ITV has a strong line-up of pundits and an impressive list of names providing their insights and knowledge [including] Johnny Wilkinson, Sir Clive Woodward, Gareth Thomas and Brian O’Driscoll,’ Rugby World
Adrian Dunbar’s Coastal Ireland - Channel 5
Adrian Dunbar goes on a journey to reconnect with his roots as he rediscovers Ireland’s rugged unspoiled coasts.
And he finds a sense of peace and glorious isolation by fulfilling a long held dream to explore the remote Skellig Islands, entirely uninhabited except for thousands of sea birds.
A familiar face from his many TV and film roles, Dunbar is the perfect companion for this two-part, 600 mile journey around his homeland’s west and northern coasts.
What they say: ‘Takes in film locations, remarkable engineering, culinary gems, historic landmarks and spellbinding scenery. Dunbar visits old haunts and ticks a few spots off his bucket list too.’ Herald Scotland
Adrian Dunbar explores Ireland's jaw-dropping Skellig Islands, which you might recognise from the Star Wars films.— Channel 5 (@channel5_tv) February 4, 2021
Adrian Dunbar's #CoastalIreland | Tonight at 8pm | Channel 5 pic.twitter.com/ETjHQAzwxa
Joanna Lumley’s Home Sweet Home - Travels in My Own Land - ITV
Joanna Lumley has spent a lifetime travelling the globe but her new ITV series has been described as her most personal journey yet.
Lumley visits all four corners of the UK in the three-part series, taking her from Tilbury Docks to the Highlands of Scotland as she retraces old steps and explores new places.
Overflowing with her trademark joy and enthusiasm and never afraid to send herself up, this is another treat from a national treasure.
What they say: ‘Joanna Lumley is delightful company wherever she goes.’ The Times
Live Cricket: India v England - Channel 4
Live Test match cricket returned to free-to-air TV for the first time in 16 years when Channel 4 bought the rights to England’s winter tour to India.
Channel 4 scored record numbers with its one-off live coverage of England’s cricket World Cup win in 2019 which it shared with Sky.
And what better way to escape the winter blues than by watching Joe Root’s men take on Viral Kohli’s side in the four Test series, presented by the new face of C4 cricket, Rishi Persad, alongside record-breaking former England captain, Sir Alastair Cook.
What they say: ‘Persad was a warm, welcoming and knowledgeable host while Cook was confident and assured as the analyst.’ iNews
Attention Barmy Army 🚨— Channel 4 (@Channel4) February 4, 2021
After a 16-year-long wait, we can confirm we will be airing the India v England Test series. This series is going to be a cracker, so set those alarms and remember to join us this Friday from 3.45am with highlights available on All 4
Rob and Romesh vs Golf - Sky 1
In Rob and Romesh Vs on Sky 1, comedians Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan travel the world taking on various challenges in the world of entertainment and sport.
Their latest task, airing on Sky 1 on Thursday [11 February] is to embrace the world of golf, and you may not be surprised to learn that Rob is rather more enthusiastic than Romesh.
The pair visit the home of golf at St Andrews, get some expert advice from Justin Rose and even get to play at the PGA Championship. Fore!
What they say: ‘Rob Beckett tries to pass on his enthusiasm for golf to his friend [in this] banterish buddy show. Romesh Ranganathan and enthusiasm aren’t words that sit together comfortably.’ Radio Times
Expedition with Steve Backshall - Dave
There are lots of amazing uncharted places in the world to visit but we don’t have the time, money, or - frankly - the courage to do it.
Fortunately, the fearless explorer Steve Backshall is able to go there for us in this eye-popping documentary series.
The naturalist and TV presenter travels the world in search of new discoveries, taking on immense physical challenges and encountering amazing wildlife along the way. A breathless - and breathtaking - trip.
What they say: ‘Backshall is great at explaining things in an engaging, straightforward way and he’s clearly as brave as heck. A tremendous adventure.’ Radio Times
Secret Safari: Into The Wild - Channel 4
Very possibly the closest you’ll get to a safari without going on one, Channel 4’s six-part series takes us to the heart of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
The 90,000 acres of savannah grassland is home to 13,000 animals and this documentary, narrated by Andrew Scott, gives us a stunning insight into their lives and the people who help look after them.
Rangers tread an important line between letting nature take its course preserving the future of these endangered animals. A fascinating and occasionally heartbreaking watch.
What they say: ‘Full of beautiful stories, beautifully filmed and told with real skill. It also features wonderful people doing wonderful work. It is delightful.’ Saga
Cornwall and Devon Walks with Julia Bradbury - ITV
Julia Bradbury’s walks along some of Devon and Cornwall’s 5,000 miles of footpaths is a nostalgic treat for anyone who has holidayed in the west country and an inspiration for those who haven’t.
The presenter and outdoor walking enthusiast spent last summer exploring the area on foot, from the epic landscape of Dartmoor to the soaring cliffs of Land’s End and a trip to the unforgettable Isles of Scilly.
Showcasing some of the best walks Devon and Cornwall have to offer, the glorious scenery and the people she meets along the way make this a trip to remember.
What they say: ‘Enjoy a blast of sea air with formidable, inexhaustible hiker Julia Bradbury. It’s a cheerful and spectacular burst of escapism … Stunning.’ Radio Times
Big Weekends with Gregg Wallace - Channel 5
Gregg Wallace isn’t the sort of type to do things by halves and his new series on Channel 5, which begins on Friday [12 February] is no exception.
Wallace visits Rome, Amsterdam, Berlin and Barcelona for the four-part genre-crossing travelogue, exploring each city’s history and cuisine.
‘Two of my great loves are food and travel,’ said Wallace. ‘So to visit some of my favourite cities and explore new ones for this Channel 5 series is just brilliant.’
What they say: ‘Gregg Wallace is off on his travels again in this light-hearted four-part programme giving us a glimpse of the wider world.’ Irish Times