The Pyrenees with Michael Portillo: Channel 5 release date of new series, who is he - where is mountain range?

Former cabinet minister Michael Portillo leads a new Channel 5 documentary series as he hikes the Pyrenees on a journey of self discovery

Channel 5 documentary travel series The Pyrenees with Michael Portillo will follow the Thatcher-era politician and a journey across the European mountain range.

Portillo will spend two weeks hiking across the Pyrenees, making several stops along the way to learn more about the Spanish and French culture, and find out about himself in the process.

The series will begin with Portillo exploring the semi-autonomous and fiercly independent Basque region in Spain.

The Pyrenees with Michael PortilloThe Pyrenees with Michael Portillo
The Pyrenees with Michael Portillo

Who is Michael Portillo?

Michael Portillo is a broadcaster and former politician - he served as a junior minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

He became Employment Secretary in 1994 and a year later was promoted to Defence Secretary.

In the 1997 general election he lost his supposedly safe seat as his vote share dropped by 17 per cent and the Labour candidate Stephen Twigg’s increased by 18 per cent.

The shock defeat was coined the Portillo Moment, as the announcement of Portillo’s loss set the tone for a devastating election night for the Conservative Party.

Portillo returned to the House of Commons in 1999 but retired from politics in 2005.

Since then he has worked as a broadcaster, presenting Portillo’s Progress for Channel 4 where he looked at changing social attitudes in Britain.

He presented How to Kill a Human Being for the BBC Horizon series, where he searched for an acceptable form of capital punishment.

Portillo has also presented several documentaries about railways, a documentary on the Spanish Civil War, and a six part Channel 5 series, Coastal Devon & Cornwall.

Portillo will hike stretches of the 270 mile Pyrenees mountain rangePortillo will hike stretches of the 270 mile Pyrenees mountain range
Portillo will hike stretches of the 270 mile Pyrenees mountain range

What is The Pyrenees with Michael Portillo about?

Portillo takes on the challenge of hiking the Pyrenees as he approaches his 70th birthday.

He uses the calm environment as a chance to reflect on his life and his heritage - his father was Spanish and lived through the Civil War of the 1930s.

The first episode of the series finds Portillo in the Basque region - this part of Spain is very independent and has its own culture and language. He learns about Basuqe traditions and folklore.

Over the course of the series, Portillo visits other parts of the country and engages with the locals, as a fluent Spanish speaker himself, he is able to connect easily with those he meets, and share in their culture.

Where is the Pyrenees mountain range?

The Pyrenees is a European mountain range that straddles the border between France and Spain.

The range is about 270 miles (434 km) long and stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.

The highest mountain in the Pyrenees is the Macizo de la Maladeta standing at 3,400 metres tall.

The mountain range is a popular pilgrimage route, as pilgrims from all over the world travel along it to the site of the shrine of St James the Great.

When is The Pyrenees with Michael Portillo on TV?

The series will begin airing on Channel 5 on Tuesday 23 April at 9pm. The four part series will be released weekly and episodes will be available to watch on My5 shortly after they are first broadcast.

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