Brazil with Michael Palin

The intrepid traveler heads to South America

There usually aren’t any pythons in the jungles of Brazil — they’re native to Africa and Asia — but that’s not stopping Michael Palin of Monty Python’s Flying Circus fame.

Better known today for his travel series, Palin begins a new adventure to Brazil — the country that’ll be hosting not only the soccer World Cup but the next summer Olympics as well.

In Brazil with Michael Palin, a new four-part program, he travels from the lost world of Amazonia to the buzzing metropolis of Rio de Janeiro, to meet the people and visit the places that shape the nation. The country is considered one of the rising global powers, with vast natural resources, an expanding industrial base, and a strong currency.

The program premieres Monday, June 9 at 10/9 pm on KET and Sunday, June 15 at 8/7 pm on KET2.

The famous Copacabana Beach

Michael’s odyssey begins in the northeast, where modern Brazil was born. He starts in the city of Sao Luis before traveling down the coast to Recife and Salvador, dropping in on the vaqueros — Brazilian cowboys — who work on vast cattle ranches.

Michael with cowboys

His travels also take him south to the stunning coastal lagoons of the Lencois Maranhenses National Park. In Salvador, he learns to drum with the famous Olodum School and has a lesson in cooking Bahian-style, before finding out what lies behind the beguiling moves of capoeira dancers.

Three ladies in Bahian dresses

In the second program, “Into Amazonia,” Palin travels on several rivers through the very heart of Amazonia. Meeting the Yanomami tribe, he talks to their spokesperson about the threats to their way of life.

Yanomami men prepare for the dance.

He visits the magnificent Manaus Opera House and samples some exotic Amazonian foods in Belem at the mouth of the Amazon. Traveling southward to the upper reaches of the Xingu River, Palin is welcomed to the Wauja tribe, one of the most colorful of all the Brazilian indigenous peoples.

In the next program, “On the road to Rio,” Michael visits the source of Brazil’s great mineral wealth — the state of Minas Gerais and its giant mines. Here, he meets some ordinary Brazilians dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of the state.

Michael explores the fruit market in Rio de Janeiro with Fábio Sombra

Then he’s off to Rio de Janeiro, host of the next Olympics and World Cup. Rio has always been a party town, but it’s also blighted by drugs and gang violence. While there, he learns how to celebrate a goal like a Brazilian radio commentator and books a room in one of the city’s famous “love hotels!”

On the final leg of his journey, “The Deep South,” Michael starts in the picture-perfect town of Paraty, where he meets with Prince João de Bragança, heir to the defunct throne of Brazil. At Embraer and Sao Paolo, Palin meets some of Brazil’s successful politicians, heads of business and TV soap stars, who all have mixed opinions on Brazil’s future.

After experiencing the beauty and serenity of the vast wetlands of the Pantanal, Palin ends his journey at the magnificent Iguazu Falls, where he concludes that Brazil has much to offer the world as it takes its place as a potential new superpower.

Iguazu Falls


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