20 October 2008

Where are all the female travel presenters?

Ok, I'm not normally the sort of person to rant. But after having watched yet another TV travel documentary hosted by a middle-aged male presenter, I feel I must nail my colours to the mast on behalf of womankind.

This autumn the UK screens seem to be awash with travel documentaries. Last night it was writer and comedian Stephen Fry tootling around America in his oh so very British London taxi. Then writer and comedian Paul Merton was in India trying out his batting at a cricket club for the blind. Competing with him on the same night was writer and comedian Gryff Rhys Jones trying to sing Gospel in New York as part of his Greatest cities of the World series. Can you see a pattern emerging? Is there a conspiracy out there to get all the aging male comedians on our screens in one week and then flog us their coffee table book for Christmas?

I blame Michael Palin, the grand-daddy of them all for starting the trend. I'll even admit to having his videos and books on my shelf.

But where are all the female TV travel presenters? I'm longing to see some attractive and intrepid gal getting up to something adventurous in somewhere exotic. My husband is getting fed up of hearing me moan about it too. The closest we've got recently is Tribal Wives, where the formula is to take an English women in need of a life change to stay with a remote community and then line them up for a prospective romance with some unfortunate local. No stereotypes there then!

I'll make an exception of course for Bruce Parry, who brings a charming if slightly mad brand of enthusiasm to everything he does. I can't forget the sight of him leaping naked over a row of cattle in an initiation ceremony in Ethiopia. And at the prospect of taking the halucinogenic drug Ayahuasca, which will make him vomit uncontrollably before giving him wierd dreams, he can't wait!

When I was in Ecuador our guide told us a fairy tale of two travellers who mysteriously disappeared into the rainforest. But unlike Hansel and Gretel there was no happy ending. Eventually it was discovered that they had died after overdosing on Ayahuasca but the locals had hidden their bodies for fear of the trouble they'd be in. After that I decided to pass on the Ayahuasca.

Then there are those Medicine Men, the identical twins Chris and Xand, with such a lovely bedside manner. They agonise over whether they should treat sick children using western medicine or leave them to the herbal remedies of the local shaman. The scene where they found a tapeworm in a piece of roasted monkey was especially appetising.

But there's something missing for me - where are all the adventurous female TV travel presenters? I know the women travellers are out there because I read their blogs. But why aren't they on TV?

Here's my vision for the next hit TV travel series.

Intrepid lady sets off to explore the unspoiled wildernesses, penetrate into the deepest rainforest, stay with the nomadic peoples of the desert and bring us her stories from a woman's point of view. No powerful motorbikes or other boys toys will be involved!

Or how about this scenario?

Hip and gorgeous babe scours cities from Istanbul to Marakesh, Berlin to Beijing, searching out the most secret and cool haunts with the help of the local blogger in each location. By the way, I'm past thinking of myself as that hip and gorgeous babe, but I could always be her fixer.

What do you think? Any collaborators out there?

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Anonymous said...

The best travel show I've seen presented by a woman recently was Saira Khan's series on Pakistan as part of BBC4's India / Pakistan season last year. I expected to hate her (based on what she's been like in the Apprentice), but the show was fascinating, and she was a great host. I found it much more enjoyable than the sister series on India by Sanjeev Bhaskar.

And going back a looooong way, I always loved Magenta Devine on the Rough Guide shows (which first fired up my interest in travel).

...and then of course there's always good old Judith Chalmers!!

Shows how right you are though that I struggle to think of any others. You're ideas sound great - and I think you could be the babe, it's your idea so you should be out there doing it.

Debbie Dubrow said...

I'm with you. The fact is that a woman's perspective is different from a man's perspective, and I wish that more travel tv & travel writing featured a woman's point of view. It's not that I don't like what the men are doing, it's just that there's something missing for me...

Kat said...

Though not hip and gorgeous I'm more than happy to volunteer my presenting skills... And i edit a travel website so I have a lot of decent contacts...?

Anonymous said...


i've been ranting about this myself - but to my friends, in emails and to anyone who'll listen for a long time.
but now it's time for the doing rather than the talking.
i can be chic, i'm an urban gal but i can also rough it with the best of them and so, off i go. me, camera-man and a note book.
i'm setting up my website and blog as we speak and i'd LOVE your review at the end of it all!

Sabrina said...

I love everything you girls are saying. There are two girls who have already begun the journey,take a look at them on www.travelista.tv. From a female's point of view. They rock!

Mark Benson said...

The T.V travel presenters play a major role in making holiday seekers select the perfect destination for their holiday trips. Last year I intended to go for a trip to either Australia or New Zealand and was pretty confused on which one to choose from. A t.v travel show and especially the presenter; made up my mind for cheap flights to New Zealand to explore the ample spectacular attractions.