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Great Asian Railway Journeys - BBC2

(Image credit: BBC/Boundless/Fremantle)

Barely pausing for breath between one railway show and another, Michael Portillo is back on his travels in Great Asian Railway Journeys

With barely time to check his passport is still valid, Michael Portillo is off on another railway jolly. This whopping 20-part series kicks off in steamy Hong Kong, where the British and Chinese empires faced off in the 19th century. (Monday, 6.30pm, see our TV Guide for full details).

Michael Portillo

Michael Portillo starts his journey in China

The colonial legacy makes for a sometimes "uncomfortable ride", says Michael, who explains how the British tea trade was funded by the trade in opium, which Britain deliberately introduced to the region to encourage addiction and so drive sales.

MORE: Portillo's Hidden History of Britain

Touching on the current political upheavals in Hong Kong, Michael talks to locals about current and past events, takes the Peak Tram, a funicular railway built in 1888 to the comparatively cooler upper reaches of the city, where there's a fabulous view out across the 420 square miles and the 7.5 million people who live there.

It’s a bracing tour and Michael is, as ever, good company, though the sight of him bouncing up and down on a bamboo pole making noodles might cause a spike in demand for counselling.

TV Times rating: ****