Published: 06:00, 24 November 2020
| Updated: 08:08, 24 November 2020
Shrimping, beekeeping and finding out about his family history are among the Kentish discoveries TV presenter Paul O'Grady will make in his latest TV series.
The ITV series, Paul O'Grady's Great British Escape, sees the presenter, who has made his home in the county for 20 years, visit sites and scenes across Kent over the next few weeks.
The series has already seen him visit Dungeness, Britain's only desert and one of Europe's largest expanses of shingle, via the historic and popular Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, and go fishing for shrimp.
This week's episode sees him explore Kent’s coastline, visiting Dover Harbour where he boards a speed boat to blast along the iconic white cliffs, past wartime tunnels and over long-lost shipwrecks before seeing a colony of harbour seals living on a disused MOD navy base.
He also heads to Broadstairs, once the favourite holiday spot of Charles Dickens, and meets the author’s great-great-great-granddaughter Lucinda and hears how, in 1849, Dickens witnessed the double hanging of Paul’s relatives, the notorious Mannings convicted of a murder known as the Bermondsey Horror.
His seaside trip includes a visit to St Margaret's Bay and to oyster country at Whitstable, where he meet the West family who have been sorting, selling and shucking oysters for five generations.
In the next episode, Paul visits places long on his Kent bucket list, including a modern-day pilgrimage to Canterbury, following the footsteps of Chaucer’s pilgrims by visiting the world-famous cathedral, but when he arrives he finds he must climb 230ft to help with roof renovations.
He heads to the village of Pett Bottom, and pops in for a drink at the Duck Inn, the favourite watering hole of James Bond author Ian Fleming, who loved the county and included it in many of Bond’s iconic adventures, including Moonraker, Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice.
A steam train fan, he also heads to Tenterden, the home of the Kent and East Sussex train line, and gets to blow his whistle to get all aboard before jumping into the guard’s carriage and enjoying the best seat on the train.
His final stop is the Smarden-based Big Cat Sanctuary, where he turns aromatherapist by stuffing scented pillows to help provide stimulation and enrichment to one of the world’s most endangered cats – the Amur leopard.
The following week, Paul explores the county's forests – which cover more than 10% of Kent’s bucolic countryside.
He meets one of the UK’s most iconic, but threatened rodents – the adorable dormouse - at the Wildwood Trust just outside Canterbury – and finishes by feeding the centre’s majestic brown bears, rescued from hunters in Bulgaria.
At Kentish Pip, a 100-year old cider apple orchard, he meets farmer Sam who teaches him the art of ‘panking’ – shaking apples of a tree with a long pole, while in the Weald he will learn the ancient skill of horse coppicing and learns about beekeeping.
The show is on tomorrow night, and Wednesday nights on ITV at 8pm.