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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Iceland adventure with Alexander Armstrong

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Over the past year or so, most travel documentaries have seen celebrities sticking close to home and exploring different aspects of Britain – Cornwall and Yorkshire have been particularly popular.

However, it seems the famous faces are now ready to venture a bit further afield. ITV recently brought us Gordon, Gino & Fred Go Greek!, and now Channel 5 is weighing in with Iceland with Alexander Armstrong.

It’s the Pointless presenter’s first major series for the channel, although fans of the multi-talented actor, comedian and singer (and people who like a good celeb travelogue) will know that it’s not the first time he’s been to Iceland. He previously visited the country during his ITV series Land of the Midnight Sun.

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He clearly liked what he saw as now he’s going back to explore it in more depth. Iceland was the last country in the world to be settled by humans and, as Alexander discovers, its isolated position has helped to create a unique culture.

He’ll learn that while the cliches of Iceland being a land of volcanoes and Vikings do have some truth behind them, there is much more to country than that. During his travels across the breadth of the nation, he’ll encounter geysers, glaciers, whales and rancid shark meat, while stopping off for the odd dip in a spa heated by the earth’s core and a very expensive beer.

Alexander starts his journey in suitably epic style by taking to the skies in a helicopter for a bird’s eye view of an erupting and lethal volcano, which has been gushing out 1200C lava for the last six months.

The presenter then meets up with local volcanologist Helga, who provides an insight into what life is like in this ‘Land of Ice and Fire’, and admits that while it may be dangerous, it’s also fun.

Then it’s time for Alexander to check out the famous Golden Circle, which is home to some of Iceland’s most iconic sights, including waterfalls, ancient parliaments and the original hot water spring, the Geysir.

The episode also explores Icelandic folklore. Over the half the population believes in elves, fairies and trolls – a fact that maybe won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone whose main knowledge of the country’s culture comes from the Netflix comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.

Alexander meets a woman who claims she can see and talk to the elves, and credits them with helping to prevent a road being built through a local church. He also finds out why the country is on the path to becoming the relaxation capital of the world, as it trials a four-day working week, and he gets a chance to unwind himself as he stops off for a soak in a huge geothermal public spa made at a reconstituted landfill site.

However, just because the Icelanders know how to take it easy, it doesn’t mean they can’t also party hard, as Alexander discovers when he checks out Reykjavik’s nightlife. Although given that it’s summer and the sun doesn’t set, it may class as day-life…

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