Stoking up a great train journey
Great British Railway Journeys BBC2, 6.30pm
MICHAEL Portillo was spotted filming on platform two at Stoke Station last August, and now we know why. He wasn't presenting a new series on the history of British pigeons, rather a continuation of his Great British Railway Journeys series.
Portillo tonight enjoys a run from Stoke to Winsford.
It's not a classically great railway journey but, to be fair, as he's passing the dereliction of the North Staffordshire industrial landscape, at no point does he compare it unfavourably to the Orient Express.
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Portillo is once again armed with his copy of George Bradshaw's Victorian railway guidebook, the Victorian reference tome published 150 years ago. It has been catapulted into the bestsellers list as viewers try to recapture the heyday of the railways, a time when they didn't have to remortgage their homes to travel between the hours of 7am and 9am.
The book is an exact facsimile of the original, complete with the bloodstain on page 32 where Bradshaw was mortally wounded when a sausage roll fell from a passing waiter's tray.
Portillo has taken three series to get to Stoke, and there's an embarrassing scene early on when he mistakes an oatcake for a face flannel.
Apologising for the faux pas, he learns how, in Victorian times, the Potteries brought their products to the masses. Regretfully he makes a right hog's ear of one piece to camera, describing an original Wedgwood bone china saucer as an ashtray.
Portillo's new series on the A34 starts in March.