Poling the Planet – Extreme Punting will be a six-part travelogue series with a twist. Presenters James Bayliss-Smith and Edward Woodhouse are experienced Cambridge punt chauffeurs. They will undertake six very different journeys on rivers around the world using local craft poled in the manner we in England call punting. Through local travel in familiar craft they will explore six very different countries culture, history and politics through a unique river journey. Under their own steam and punting local vessels, James and Ed will gain a singular insight into local cultures and will experience the different countries they visit from an unparalleled perspective.
Across the world and throughout history, rivers have been a vital mode of transport for human populations. By enabling people to travel large distances over water with relative speed and ease, they have been integral to the development of civilisation. Trade and commerce have flourished where rivers have existed and great cities have grown up on their banks. In many cases the humble punt (or its local equivalent) has been vital for transporting goods and people to and from these centres, and has been the basis for floating markets and other such things.
Since time immemorial wherever rivers have been important, mankind has reached the same solution to the problem of river travel through shallow water. They have learnt to propel flat-bottomed craft by pushing a pole against the bottom. Pushing boats with poles remains the mainstay of river travel on many smaller rivers in certain developing countries. Here in Britain, the remnants of this ancient tradition only remain in Cambridge and Oxford, having evolved during Edwardian times from a commercial activity into the genteel and relaxing leisure activity of punting. In Cambridge there is a small group of people who still earn a living from the river. They are the Cambridge punt chauffeurs.
James Bayliss-Smith and Edward Woodhouse are very experienced Cambridge punt chauffeurs with a taste for adventure. They have plied their trade on the frantically busy River Cam for many years. Having grown up in Cambridge, they pride themselves on their punting prowess on one of the most congested stretches of river in the world. Poling the Planet – Extreme Punting will test their punting skills to the limits. The series will explore elements of current affairs, anthropology, history and culture including culinary and musical culture, and of course river life. Countries on the itinerary could include Papua New Guinea, Mali, Honduras, Kashmir, Kerala (India), Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, China, Mexico, Venezuela, Japan, Sudan, Botswana and various others countries in these regions.
Most people in the UK have either visited Oxbridge or have some idea of punting in those places. Three million foreign visitors a year get a glimpse of punting on the River Cam. Poling watercraft will provide a unifying theme for the series that will transport viewers from the known to the unknown. It will celebrate the unity of mankind in one aspect of the technology of river transport, but at the same time will demonstrate the diversity of fluvial landscapes and cultures. James and Ed will present this riverine world in a hands-on and entertaining manner, with surprises and adventures guaranteed as they grapple with poling the planet.
For more information, please contact me.