This July (2016) the BPT took the wonderful Tony Robinson on a pilgrimage – the first one (he says) he has ever made. We’re not sure we entirely believe him – we suspect Britain makes far more pilgrimage than it realises, albeit perhaps unconsciously.
This piece was for Channel 4, and will come out this Autumn. It was all about great heritage paths of South Britain, and looks like a really exciting show.
It was absolutely a micro-pilgrimage, but it held the form – an unbroken journey on foot to a holy place. The destination was the Nonington ‘Majesty’ Oak – just off the North Downs Pilgrims Way between Dover and Canterbury.
The film crew – and Tony – were pretty tired after 11 weeks filming. This was their last day, so I had the privilege of watching Tony at work on his final piece. He is a riffer – an improv man – and works script-free. While we waited for the crew to set up, he spoke much of this family, who he obviously missed greatly while filming. And he told me a great secret about being a TV star: “Most of my time is spent standing still, just watching the countryside. That’s the majority of my time at work – just watching nature.”
We gave him a pilgrim staff – hazel, the tree of wisdom – and a 99 year old silver thrupenny bit to give the Oak as a gift. We circumambulated – we made contact – and we gave gifts. It felt wholesome. And that was essentially that.
Sounds pretty great. Thanks Tony, and Channel 4, and we look forward to seeing the result.
(Photos © Will Parsons.)