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Joanna Lumley shares 'unseen bits' from her travel adventures for new series

Joanna Lumley in Unseen Adventures

Joanna Lumley will be sharing a treasure trove of unseen footage from her ITV travelogues and revealing what really goes on behind the scenes during filming....

From India to China, Cuba to Mongolia, Ab Fab star Joanna Lumley has travelled the globe for her popular ITV travelogues.

Now in a new three part series, Joanna Lumley’s Unseen Adventures, the much-loved actress and presenter is going to be sharing previously unseen footage and also giving viewers an insight of what goes on behind the scenes.

"I’ve been lucky enough to visit some incredible places over the years," says actress and presenter Joanna, 74.

"Travel is my passion, it’s in my blood. What you eventually see on your screen takes weeks to shoot and months to edit and we didn’t always have time to show you everything we filmed. We have kept the unseen stories safe and now I can reveal this treasure trove!"

Joanna Lumley in Unseen Adventures

Joanna Lumley pictured at her home in London. The first episode of her Unseen Adventures will cover Japan to Siberia

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Here Joanna Lumley tells TV Times more about her Unseen Adventures...

TV Times: What have you enjoyed about this new series?

Joanna Lumley: "It contains extra riches that we weren’t able to show before and it gives glimpses into faraway lands. I think people will think, as Louis Armstrong sang, ‘What a Wonderful World.’ I have missed travelling so much, and it was a great treat to go over these travels and realise how far we’ve gone. When I looked on the map I thought, ‘Wow, we have been to all these extraordinary places.'"

Which unseen moments are you particularly glad to be sharing?

JL: "One extraordinary one was in Tashkent, Uzbekistan where we watched people firing neutrons at ordinary quartz and turning it into this fantastic glittering blue topaz. It was like a magician at work, these jewels suddenly appear. I loved that. Another is having tea at the Peninsula in Hong Kong. It’s going to be so touching to see it now knowing all the troubles of Hong Kong and China. To have that little tranquil interlude in that most historic hotel is rather lovely."

Joanna Lumley in Unseen Adventures

Joanna Lumley pictured with China's editor-in-chief of Vogue, Angelica Cheung, during her travels

What is your favourite location in the series?

JL: "When I think of my favourite place I always come back to Georgia. It’s easy to get to, you don’t need a visa. You can fly direct. There are gorgeous mountains, gorgeous sea resorts, it’s got fascinating ancient churches and the food and the wines are just unbelievable. It makes you sit up in your seat and go, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s delicious.’ Extraordinary things like pine cones soaked in honey and things you have never tasted before."

Which others locations have been special to you?

JL: "One of my favourites was when we were in Iran and we went to the desert city of Yazd and saw these extraordinary men training to become fair knights of the realm practically. They do all their work in secret, they’re incredibly fit and strong and they’re the champions you’d always long for. So if there’s a widow who can’t make ends meet, or children who are hungry or somebody’s got a hole in the roof and they don’t know how to fix it, these men go around secretly at night they either leave money or food or they fix things."

Joanna Lumley in Unseen Adventures

Joanna pictured in Mongolia standing in front of a huge statue of Genghis Khan with Mr Battulga who had this tribute to Genghis Khan built and later went on to become the Mongolian president.

What behind-the-scenes snippets will we see?

JL: "Quite often when these shows come out, they look so effortless, as though we go along and it’s like a holiday but of course it’s not like that. We show some of the complications of getting things done, for example me having to interview people via a translator and glimpses of us rushing and cramming stuff onto trains that you wouldn’t normally see on camera. There was also this jumping dog in Fukushima in Japan which was absolutely adorable but he nearly knocked me over and he would not stop jumping. He literally had to be banished whilst I interviewed the man who owned him."

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What have you missed the most about travelling during the last few months?

JL: "The excitement of the unknown and not quite knowing what places are going to be like. I think we all have misconceptions or preconceptions in our minds for example shamefully I thought Uzbekistan was a very far away country with desert streets and humble little stalls, then I see this fabulous capital, Tashkent, which is just beautiful with first class opera houses and grand town halls and beautiful boulevards and parks. Those things can only reveal themselves if you as a traveller manage to get there and realise how gorgeous and unexpected places can be."

Joanna Lumley in Unseen Adventures

Joanna Lumley meets Naoto Matsumura inside the Fukushima nuclear plant exclusion zone in Japan.

Where is the first place you’d like to travel to when restrictions are fully lifted?

JL: "I would actually like to see more of the United Kingdom. We live in such a fabulous country with such a rich history and mix of people. People think, ‘Let’s get away,’ but actually, going away can be here in England or Wales, or to the Scottish Highlands or the ravishing beauty of Ireland. We are incredibly lucky with all the things we have here."

Joanna Lumley's Unseen Adventures starts Tuesday 28 July, ITV at 9pm

Tess Lamacraft
Tess Lamacraft

Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.