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Meet the star-studded cast of Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul

This week marks the return of Pilgrimage – the BBC Two present which sees a gaggle of celebrities from numerous spiritual backgrounds embark on an extended trek as they focus on their religion and beliefs.

This 12 months the group donning backpacks and strolling boots consists of Adrian Chiles, a transformed Catholic, Edwina Currie, a lapsed Jew, Fatima Whitbread, a practising Christian, Mim Shaikh and Amar Latif, each Muslims and Dom Joly and Pauline McLynn – two confirmed atheists.

Right here’s the whole lot you want to learn about the pilgrims – together with why they took half and what they every learnt from the expertise…

Adrian Chiles

Who’s Adrian Chiles? Chiles is a journalist and broadcaster who’s most well-known for his presenting work on reveals corresponding to The One Present – which he fronted from 2007-2010, and for serving as ITV’s lead sport presenter from 2010-2015. He additionally has a daily column in the Guardian.

Why did Adrian need to participate? “Effectively I’ve acquired a form of horror of these variety of programmes – however with this one I simply thought, effectively I do actually like speaking about religion.

“I believe there’s a false impression that individuals who come on and discuss religion get hammered for it, however I did a bit of collection known as My Mediterranean which was about God and I by no means acquired any stick for it in any respect, so I used to be variety of relaxed speaking about religion and I believed there’d be attention-grabbing issues to find out about that and discussions to have.

What did he study from the pilgrimage? “Effectively, I discovered it type of spiritually dispiriting if I put it like that. As a result of the entire pilgrimage marks the route of the place Suleiman went marching up to Vienna, acquired his a**e kicked after which limped again.

“After which each place we stopped alongside the method there was at all times proof of the place unspeakable issues have been executed to folks in the title of faith, to which I’d say that was completely bugger all to do with faith, it was executed in the title of faith nevertheless it was solely politics.

“I’ve been requested in the previous might you’ve got been a Muslim, might you’ve got been a Jew, such as you have been a Catholic. However it’s a meaningless query…to me it’s not about which faith, it’s the place you might be on the spectrum – I’ve acquired extra in widespread with a liberal Muslim than with even a conservative Roman Catholic.

“Jesus mentioned the meek shall inherit the Earth, proper, however the meek have gotten very poor PR, as a result of usually while you get spiritual folks on, you usually get the headbangers on, no person is interested by the delicate ones. And us seven have been all type of delicate folks, definitely in spiritual phrases, or irreligious phrases in case you like. I believe the magnificence of it’s the variety of meekness of it.”

Edwina Currie

Who’s Edwina Currie? Currie is a former Conservative Member of Parliament who represented the South Derbyshire constituency from 1983-1997, together with serving as a junior well being minister for 2 years. In her post-politics profession she has labored extensively as an creator and broadcaster and has taken half in Strictly Come Dancing and I’m A Celeb…Get Me Out of Right here.

Why did Edwina need to participate? “First of all, it’s an space of the world I’ve by no means been to, I knew it was stunning, nevertheless it’s additionally an space of borders between international locations, shifting allegiances, shifting religions, so we have been going to be exploring how folks have handled one another over centuries.

“And I believed then I simply trusted you lot (the manufacturing crew) to select some very attention-grabbing companions. We had quite a bit of enjoyable, I hope that confirmed, however we actually had quite a bit of bloody onerous work too!”

What did she study from the pilgrimage? “Effectively first I acquired to know six terrific folks…while you spend two weeks in relatively intimate circumstances with folks you get to know them very effectively and that was an infinite optimistic.

“I realized that there’s a heck of quite a bit of change happening in that half of the world, that we’re not conscious of. We noticed villages that have been nearly empty…we noticed areas the place quite a bit of effort is being made to increase requirements the place there’s cash stepping into, bettering the little city centres attempting to create one thing higher for folks, giving them hope and so forth, it’s working in some locations however not but.

“And we realized locations which can be nonetheless very reduce off like Serbia, they’re nonetheless caught in a mindset that maybe we wouldn’t discover very snug, maybe there are nonetheless unresolved points there from wars that solely lately ended, little rumblings we heard from time to time.”

Dom Joly

Who’s Dom Joly? Comic Dom Joly is most well-known for his present Set off Comfortable TV, a sensible joke present making use of hidden cameras that ran for 2 seasons in the early 2000s. He has additionally toured extensively as a arise, has written journey books and and hosts his personal podcast, Earworm.

Why did Dom need to participate? “Effectively I like an argument… and I’m completely non-religious and I simply wished to spend two weeks arguing with spiritual folks and telling them how ridiculous they have been. However truly after I met them they have been all fairly affordable and none of them have been fundamentalists in order that didn’t actually occur!

“And I journey quite a bit, I write journey books and I like darkish tourism. I’d simply walked throughout Lebanon final 12 months so I believed I wanted one other stroll, and my large hero in life is Patrick Leigh Fermor, who wrote two of my favorite books – A Time of Presents and Between the Woods and the Water – the place he walked in the 1930s from London to Istanbul.

“So the thought of having the ability to do the same-ish journey as he did was simply unbeatable!”

What did he study from the pilgrimage? “I grew up in Lebanon, in a civil conflict, the place the entire nation was cut up aside by numerous spiritual factions, so to me faith was at all times this not notably optimistic factor that appeared to divide folks. And but the Lebanese are an extremely hospitable, pretty, pleasant folks and so there was at all times this bizarre dichotomy.

“And going via the Balkans it was precisely the similar, truly. You went to Serbia and the folks individually have been extremely pleasant and good and an ideal sense of humour and but there was this actually overriding sense of nationalism and excessive patriotism which was linked to the church very a lot.

“So yeah I believe it was simply the extraordinary distinction between the friendliness of the folks however understanding that there was this simply actually deep-set division beneath it.”

Mim Shaikh

Who’s Mim Shaikh? Shaikh is a broadcaster and radio DJ who offered reveals on BBC Radio 1Xtra and the BBC Asian Community from 2015-2019. Extra lately he has segued into documentary filmmaking, together with creating and internet hosting a programme which noticed him seek for his organic father on BBC Three.

Why did Mim need to participate? “I keep in mind when the request got here in I used to be at a stage of my life the place I’d been doing radio for about 4 or 5 years and I simply determined to give it up as a result of it wasn’t resonating the similar method that I wished it to.

“And this request got here in and I believed I really feel like I’d have the option to study one thing and I acquired this curiosity about me, wanting to learn about different cultures and religions and other people – primarily as a result of I really feel that  is the method I’m ready to study in the finest method.

“In order that’s variety of the motive… and I hoped that I’d have the option to really feel one thing with reference to myself, the place I’m pushing in the direction of, what I need to do and simply seeing if I develop in any method.”

What did he study from the pilgrimage? “I believe the state of affairs proper now in the world, simply inside the world that we stay in post-Brexit, Islamophobia, all of this stuff that reveals how divided we’re… and faith can clearly add to that.

“I believe, one of the causes I acquired concerned in the present is to present we’re not all fundamentalists, we’re not all extremists, we’re truly good human beings who simply have religion that permits us to be good human beings – it’s our type of meditation or yoga or what everyone else is in a position to do.

“And I believe that’s what I learnt. I’ve realised that each one of us right here, it doesn’t matter what our religions are, it doesn’t matter what our ethnicities are, it doesn’t matter what our class is, it doesn’t matter what gender we’re, it doesn’t matter what jobs we now have, there’s extra widespread in us then there’s totally different.”

Pauline McLynn

Who’s Pauline McLynn? McLynn is an actress whose most well-known position was enjoying Mrs Doyle on Father Ted, which noticed her win a British comedy award in 1996. Her different roles embrace Libby Croker in Shameless, Tip Haddem in the BBC One comedy Jam & Jerusalem, and Yvonne Cotton in EastEnders.

Why did Pauline need to participate? “I can at all times be acquired for journey in a spot that I’ve by no means been earlier than – and these have been three locations, three international locations, that I’d by no means been to earlier than!

“All of us did a grasp interview earlier than we went off on our travels – and I’m afraid I fairly shallowly mentioned that I like strolling and a bit of bit of journey, and that I hoped to have a proper snigger, and that’s certainly what occurred.”

What did she study from the pilgrimage? “I suppose for me, seeing as the collection known as Pilgrimage I could as effectively tackle the spiritual facets of it. All it did for me was, I don’t imply all, nevertheless it cemented in my head the indisputable fact that I actually don’t have any time for organised faith of any type.

“We visited an terrible lot of locations the place the most extraordinary atrocities occurred… I imply actually stunning new ranges of depravity…and it’s all in the title actually of faith.

“And I used to be glad to be an atheist at the finish of it, pondering not on my watch. So I believe it’s very attention-grabbing to study extra about how terrible all of the organised religions are – sorry, lads!”

Amar Latif

Who’s Amar Latif? Latif is an entrepreneur, TV presenter and world traveller who based Traveleyes – a global air tour operator firm that specialises in excursions for blind travellers. His media profession has seen him seem in a variety of reveals together with BBC Two documentary Past Boundaries and journey programme Travelling Blind, which targeted on travelling as a blind individual.

Why did Amar need to participate? “I mainly journey anyway, for the final 15 years since I’ve grow to be blind I’ve travelled the world, so blindness has truly helped me see the world.

“However why I went on this journey, was as a result of in our day to day lives we work onerous, faith is simply pushed to one aspect – I didn’t even have time to ponder what I believed and what I believed in.

“And after I was requested to participate on this I believed wow, two weeks of going away from work and considering precisely my ideas, precisely the place faith falls into it or it doesn’t – I believed it was an unbelievable alternative.”

What did he study from the pilgrimage? “I felt that I used to be experiencing such pleasure from most of the locations that we went to. In Serbia, it doesn’t matter what they’ve executed in the previous, their orthodox faith introduced the group collectively.

“OK there was a hierarchy of who was being fed first, however as soon as we ate there was music, they have been having a drink, it was a piss-up, and everybody was actually completely satisfied. And I believed, oh, faith is bringing this group collectively – and that was very nice to witness.

“It simply made me realise that faith does convey folks collectively and it supplies a lot peace to folks and, you realize I used to be getting quite a bit of that from this journey.”

Fatima Whitbread

Who’s Fatima Whitbread? Whitbread is a javelin thrower whose spectacular checklist of achievements embrace breaking the world file at the 1986 European Championships, successful the World Championships the subsequent 12 months, and twice successful Olympic medals – Bronze in 1984 and Silver in 1988. Her publish athletics profession has seen her participate in I’m a Celeb, during which she positioned third in 2011.

What did she study from the pilgrimage? “It was a religious and eye-opening expertise, each religiously and culturally. I totally loved the mountaineering, in addition to strolling via the villages and seeing native life in its simplicity.

“Experiencing a non secular journey first-hand has deepened my religion. I really feel that the expertise hasn’t modified me as such, nevertheless it has elevated my understanding of different folks’s religion and elevated my information.”

Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul begins Friday 27th March at 9pm on BBC Two. Should you’re searching for extra to watch take a look at our TV information.

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Mr josh

Mr. Josh is an experienced freelance journalist. He has worked as a journalist for a few online print-based magazines for around 3 years. He brings together substantial news bulletins from the field of Technology and US. He joined the team for taking the website to the heights.

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