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Nicholas Cannon

Michael Palin In Nigeria: release date, destinations, episode guide, trailer, interview and everything we know

Michael Palin In Nigeria on Channel 5 sees the Monty Python exploring the 'Giant of Africa'.

Michael Palin in Nigeria is a three-part Channel 5 series that sees the comedian and presenter explore Nigeria, otherwise known as the ‘Giant of Africa’. He will travel 1300 miles, from the chaos of Lagos to the tropical landscapes of the south. 

“I wanted to test myself physically to see if I could still do this at 80, but I also found it was very good for me in terms of my mental capacity – you’re seeing something new and hoping to find out what’s really happening in a country,” says Michael. “Nigeria has a population of nearly 220 million, it’s the most prosperous country in Africa and Lagos is going to be the biggest city in the world by 2098. All these things give it tremendous clout, and yet 60 percent of Nigerians live in poverty.” 

Here’s everything you need about the Channel 5 series Michael Palin in Nigeria…

Michael meets schoolchildren in Nigeria. (Image credit: Channel 5)

Michael Palin in Nigeria release date

Michael Palin In Nigeria is a three-part series that premieres on Channel 5 on Tuesday, April 16 at 9pm with episodes running the same time each week. The series will also become available on streaming service My5.

How to watch Michael Palin in Nigeria online or on TV

Michael Palin in Nigeria destinations and what happens

Michael Palin is exploring Nigeria, a West African country he says ‘doesn’t get the attention it deserves’. Starting in the Lagos, he'll travelling by bus and boat, as he heads to the south, taking in everything from slums to royal palaces along the way. He sees the horrific reminders of the impact slavery had on the country and meets a victim of the atrocious events of 2014, where 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. He also learns about the after-effects of British colonialism and discovers how oil is polluting Nigeria’s rivers. 

A boat journey in Michael Palin In Nigeria.

Michael Palin In Nigeria episode guide 

Here's our brief guide to all three episodes of Michael Palin in Nigeria...

Episode 1: Tuesday April 16
After landing at Lagos International Airport, Palin is immediately thrown into the crowded chaos of the biggest city in Africa. There he visits the vast slum of Makoko as well as the luxury bars of Lekki in the city’s southeast. Later in the episode, he takes strong security measures to travel 500 miles to the north of Nigeria, an area which is home to terrorist group Boko Haram. There he’s invited to meet revered Islamic leader, the Emir of Kano, at his royal palace. 

Episode 2: Tuesday April 23
Danger is never far away in the second episode of Michael Palin’s Nigerian adventure. As he begins a road trip into some of the most challenging parts of the country, the threat of kidnapping is high and his security detail is ramped up. Meanwhile, at his hotel in the city of Kano, Michael meets Amina Ali Nkeki, one of 276 schoolgirls abducted from their Christian school by Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram in 2014. In an emotional interview, she tells him her harrowing story and how she was forced marry one of her captors. She eventually had a daughter, now eight, before being reunited with her mother after a traumatic escape through the forest.
"There had been warnings for several weeks that the school was going to be targeted, yet there was no one guarding it,’ says Michael. ‘What also surprised me is that Amina didn't seem sorry for herself, nor did she seem to cast blame. She’s 25 now and at college. What she’s achieved after everything she went through is amazing.
Later, Michael visits the modern capital of Abuja and travels to Lokoja, once the centre of Britain’s colonial rule, where he learns about the legacy of the empire.  Lokoja was the base of Lord Frederick Lugard, the governor-general of Nigeria, who brought North and South Nigeria together as one country in 1914. "Nigeria and the UK have a complicated relationship,’ says Michael. ‘There’s such a sense of potential here, but some Nigerians feel Britain’s colonial influence is still holding back this beautiful country.’

Episode 3: Tuesday April 30
As Michael Palin starts the final leg of his journey around Nigeria, he’s excited to visit the historic city of Benin. But he and his crew soon grow concerned for their safety when they find themselves in gridlocked traffic in an area known for bandit attacks and are forced to take a dangerous detour. 
"There’s a sense of tension in the air,’" he admits. "We’re in really serious trouble now."
Thankfully, Michael makes it to Benin where learns about the 1897 Raid on Benin, when British forces attacked and burnt down the city. And he encounters an angry local, keen to tell him about how the British stole thousands of ancient bronze castings from the city, which its residents are now demanding be returned from the British Museum. 
"I felt slightly ambushed but clearly there are very strong feelings," he says. "There’s a complex yet enduring relationship between the two countries."
Michael takes a boat ride on the beautiful River Ethiope then travels to the oil-producing region of Port Harcourt, where he discovers how the industry is polluting the country’s local river systems and destroying the rural way of life. Then, on his last night, he joins a mass worship at a church that accommodates up to a million people. 
"There’s such energy and in a sense, that’s Nigeria in a nutshell,’ says Michael. ‘Lots of people and terrific energy. This country is only going to get more important and more influential and I feel privileged to have been able to visit it."

Michael in the huge city of Lagos. (Image credit: Channel 5)
Happy times in Nigeria!  (Image credit: Channel 5)

Michael Palin in Nigeria interview

What were your first impressions of Nigeria? 
Michael Palin says: "We arrived in Lagos which felt chaotic, noisy and a bit overwhelming. Everyone is larger than life. I quickly learnt that Nigerians are very open and will talk about anything, they’ll smile, shout and yell at you, and within 30 seconds be your best mate."

You were a guest of honour at a special festival – can you tell us more about that?
"That was in Kano, which for many hundreds of years was an emirate (a country ruled by an Emir). We were invited to go to the Emir's palace. He laid on a festival called a Durbar, with horsemen, dancers and hundreds of people dressed in wonderful, colourful outfits."

Did you get to sample any interesting food during your travels? 
"Jollof rice and beans is the staple diet, but I also tried snails which were the size of steaks. I mentioned this to David Attenborough, who I see every now and then. He asked me what they tasted like. I told him they don't really taste of anything!"

Where else did your journey take you? 
"I also visited the coastal town of Badagry and the beach known as ‘The Point of No Return’ which was once a slave port. Sanding on those shores and picturing the thousands of men and women taken from their homes and sent across the Atlantic in appalling conditions made me feel very uncomfortable."

What did you take away from your experience of the country?
"That it’s a place with enormous human energy that’s not being channelled in the right direction. Nearly everyone we spoke to talked about the problem with corruption – the government gets huge finances from their booming oil industry, but that money isn’t used to look after the people, the infrastructure or to get the country going."

On a personal note, you’ve recently faced the loss of your wife, Helen. Did you hesitate before signing up to film another documentary?
"I was actually very glad to go because since Helen died it's a bit like living life in a vacuum if you’re not careful. We had 57 years together. I feel I’ve got to keep on working and that Helen would want me to." 

Contemplating life in Lagos. (Image credit: Channel 5)

Is there a trailer?

Yes there is. Take a look below for as taste of Michael Palin's adventures in Nigeria...

All about Michael Palin

Michael Palin started his career as one of the members of the Monty Python comedy group, alongside John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Graham Chapman. They had huge success with their TV series Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which ran from 1969 to 1974, and the films Life of Brian, The Meaning of Life and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He has also starred in Time Bandits, The Secret Policeman’s Ball, A Fish Called Wanda, Staged, Vanity Fair and Worzel Gummidge. Alongside his acting career, Michael has made numerous travel series, including Michael Palin: Into Iraq, Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime, North Korea: Michael Palin’s Journey and Brazil with Michael Palin

Michael Palin has been on many TV travels. (Image credit: BBC)
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