Michael Portillo takes to the tracks with a copy of George Bradshaw's Railway Guidebook. Portillo travels the length and breadth of the country to see how the railways have changed it, and what of Bradshaw's Britain remains.
Michael Portillo continues his 1936 Bradshaw's-inspired railway tour of North Wales in the coastal city of Bangor before turning south from Llandudno Junction to travel the Conwy Valley Line to Betws y Coed, the gateway to Snowdonia.
Oh, Mr Porter, what could he do? Michael Portillo is in Crewe, a town steeped in railway history and immortalised in Victorian music hall, to investigate the making of the iconic cinema classic, The Night Mail during the 1930s.
In the Welsh mountains of Snowdonia, Michael Portillo reaches an abandoned mine, where in 1940 the wartime government sought sanctuary for the National Gallery's priceless art collection.
Michael Portillo's 1930s Bradshaw's-inspired railway tour of North Wales takes him to a coast lined by magnificent castles and sweeping bays.
Armed with his 1930s Bradshaw's Guide, Michael Portillo travels from Aberystwyth into the Cambrian Mountains at Devil's Bridge and finishes in Newtown, Powys. Michael's 250-mile tour of North Wales draws to a close in style at the birthplace of the nation's first classical music festival, Gregynog Hall, near Newtown. Michael is intrigued to discover that its founders, sisters Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, used the fortune they inherited from their grandfather, a noted Welsh railway builder, to establish the country estate as a centre for art and music from 1933. In the glorious music room, a Welsh harpist helps to evoke the spirit of festivals past and present.
On a new journey across Bradshaw's Britain with his Victorian guidebook. He makes potent new friends in Fleetwood then heads to Manchester, where George Stephenson built the world's first modern railway line. This epoch-defining achievement is being incorporated into a new multi-million pound rail link between Manchester's Victoria and Piccadilly stations and Michael lends a hand with the welding. At a moving ceremony in Manchester Piccadilly station, Michael unveils a new monument to 87 railwaymen of the London and North Western Railway, who lost their lives in the Great War.
At Trinity College, Dublin, Michael Portillo discovers one of Ireland's greatest treasures and learns how it became the symbol of the nation. There is a chance to sample the black stuff in a Dublin pub before Michael learns how Victorian royals were deployed to calm rocky relations between Britain and Ireland. He explores the magnificent house and gardens of Powerscourt in County Wicklow. Finding an angle on triangulation helps Michael to understand how Ireland was put on the map - and why.
Michael Portillo is in Attleborough, at the headquarters of an international horse welfare organization which was established in the late 1920s, where he learns about the charity's pioneering founder.
Michael Portillo heads for Snape Maltings, a concert and arts venue, and learns how the music and life of one of Britain’s greatest composers was shaped by the sea and his Suffolk surroundings.
Joining the cracker packers of Carlisle on the factory floor, Michael really takes the biscuit as he investigates the Victorian appetite for the custard cream on his new journey through north-west Britain. Braving a perilous descent into the only operational slate mine in England, Michael discovers a miniature railway which once hauled slate to the surface. Following in the footsteps of Victorian miners on their way to work, he steps out gingerly on to what is now Britain's only Via Ferrata - a terrifying tightrope challenge 300 feet above the Borrowdale Valley.
Michael Portillo takes to the tracks with his copy of Bradshaw's Victorian railway guidebook, he travels the length and breadth of the British Isles to see what of Bradshaw's World remains. Michael is exploring the stunning scenery of rural and coastal Scotland, travelling from Stirling, through the industrial east coast and dramatic Highland landscapes, to the beauty of the western lochs, finally ending his journey in John O'Groats. Michael learns about a Scottish hero, visits a Highland Games and discovers how an impressive piece of Victorian engineering ended in tragedy.
Steered by his Bradshaw's guide, Michael begins this leg of his journey in Merseyside, where he feels the heat of modern glassmaking in St Helens. He discovers how the techniques invented in the Victorian era to construct buildings such as the Crystal Palace have evolved and are powering a new architectural revolution.
Michael Portillo sees how gunpowder made in Waltham Cross fuelled an empire, and heads to Hackney to uncover the gruesome details of the first murder on a train.
Michael Portillo visits the Worcestershire village of Hartlebury, which was once home to a bishop who captured Queen Victoria's attention, on the second leg of his journey from Oxford to the south Wales coast. He also investigates the secrets of Worcestershire sauce and learns why the Malvern hills were popular with 19th-century health enthusiasts.
Michael continues his journey through the Lake District where he discovers a magical world of talking rabbits, ducks, hedgehogs and mice, who have entertained children for more than 100 years. At the village home of author and illustrator Beatrix Potter, Michael learns about her legacy and her fears about the railways. Fuelled by a Victorian energy bar, Michael presses on to Brantwood, home of the Victorian art critic John Ruskin. He finishes with a brief encounter at Carnforth.
Michael reads the riot act in Preston, where he discovers four mill workers were shot dead by soldiers at a protest in 1842. In Darwen, he makes a splash in pink as he traces developments in 19th-century interior design from wallpaper to paint. Michael explores the Victorian industrial landscape of Salford, populated by little matchstick figures, as revealed in the paintings of LS Lowry. Michael finishes this leg of his journey on Kersal Moor, where he twists his tongue around the Lancashire dialect and discovers the poetry of Edwin Waugh.
Michael explores the origins of the temperance movement in Preston, samples the attractions of Blackpool, a resort made by the railways, and takes a walk across Morecambe Bay with the official Keeper of the Sands.
Michael relives the Coventry Blitz, meets the last pure breed Aylesbury duck farmer in Buckinghamshire and finds out how the trains helped to evacuate millions of children during World War II.
Michael Portillo experiences the magnificent Victorian organ at Winchester Cathedral and visits a 19th-century rail works still running in Eastleigh.
Michael Portillo embarks on another journey around the nation with a copy of George Bradshaw's Victorian Railway Guidebook to discover how the railways have affected people and what remains of Bradshaw's Britain. He begins by travelling from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, to Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, finding out about the remarkable craftsmen behind the Victorian furniture trade, discovering how George Bradshaw helped save Britain's canal heritage and seeing Shakespeare through the eyes of a 19th-century rail tourist.
Michael Portillo continues his journey north on Robert Stephenson's first inter-city railway line from the capital. Along the line at Bletchley he meets one of the Second World War's most secret agents, discovers a poet in Olney whose words are still sung today and explores the first purpose-built railway town at Wolverton. Michael's last stop on this leg is Newport Pagnell, where he learns the ancient craft of vellum making.
Michael Portillo continues his journey from the east coast to the south coast beginning in the port of Ipswich, capital of the farming county of Suffolk. His first port of call is an agricultural implement works with its own railway sidings. Michael investigates what could have earned the Victorian manufacturer a special mention in his Bradshaw's. Continuing his journey south west into Essex Michael dredges oysters off Mersea Island before taking the train to Witham, where he discovers a model farming establishment at Tiptree. His final destination is Chelmsford and the world's first purpose-built radio equipment factory, established by Guglielmo Marconi.
Michael Portillo embarks on a new journey through southern Scotland from west to east. From Ayr, he admires the granite island of Ailsa Craig before getting to grips with the ancient sport of curling, with help from a Scottish world champion. The Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers invites Michael to take part in the oldest archery competition in the world. At Barassie, he rides the footplate of a freight train hauling coal on Scotland's oldest railway line. He caps off this leg of his journey in Stewarton.
Armed with his Bradshaw's guide, Michael Portillo continues his journey through southern Scotland. He celebrates Victorian iron and steel in Motherwell and admires one of its crowning achievements - the Forth Rail Bridge. Michael journeys through picturesque countryside to admire the raw power of nature at the magnificent and romantic Clyde Falls, which inspired Wordsworth and Coleridge, and where Victorian ladies swooned. In Cumbernauld, Michael learns of the birth of one of Scotland's best-selling soft drinks. In Linlithgow, he marvels at the ingenuity of the engineers who built the Union Canal and experiences a 21st century technological refinement at Falkirk.
Guided by his Bradshaw's, Michael Portillo takes the high-speed line to Stratford to explore the legacy of the Olympic Park. He hears how an Indian lawyer, who learnt his trade in Victorian London, went on to change the world and explores an area of the city which has been home to wave upon wave of immigrants, Spitalfields. He ends this journey at Victoria Underground Station, where he finds out about the massive makeover currently under way.