Airdate: Great American Railway Journeys

UK host Michael Portillo begins a vast land journey at New York’s Grand Central Terminal.


Next week SBS premieres Great American Railway Journeys which, if Euro travel shows are any indication, will be a big drawcard for SBS.

UK host Michael Portillo follows Appleton’s General Guide to the US of 1879, published at a key moment in American history: the turning point from ‘new world’ to the richest nation ever known.

The series will screen on Wednesday nights with Who Do You Think You Are? set to resume on Tuesdays shortly.

Michael sets out to rediscover a land built by the railroads. His journey covers two rail itineraries, and along the way he explores the colonial links between the United States and Britain, the role of the railways in the new nation’s rapid industrialisation, the great migrations of Europeans, the democratic institutions that define the nation today, which were moulded at the time of our guide, and the deep scars left by the recent Civil War.

Episode One: Manhattan Island
Starting at New York’s Grand Central Terminal, Michael boards the Manhattan subway system, the busiest rail transit system in the US. In an urban oasis, Michael discovers how a swampy wasteland was turned into one of the largest and finest parks in the world: Central Park. In the Lower East Side, Michael’s drawn into a scrap with one of the neighbourhood’s infamous historic gangs; and then heads by ferry to Ellis Island, the gateway to America for many millions seeking a new life. He finishes this leg of the journey with a tour of the gleaming new transport hub under construction close to the site of Ground Zero.

Wednesday, 24 August at 7.30pm on SBS.

5 Responses

  1. The Europe version is very entertaining ,love it. Michael is a likeable and fun host. Who would have thought he was a minister for Thatcher. Probably would have disliked him in that role. Anyway the US spin off is must see TV – really looking forward to it

  2. Started playing the “Bradshaws game” a drink for every mention of the Bradshaws guide, but we ended up paralytic before the first commercial breaks. Needs to be more rail journey, less dribble

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