Amazing Railway Adventures with Nick Knowles

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Friday: Amazing Railway Adventures with Nick Knowles (Channel 5, 9pm)

Nick Knowles is probably best known as the presenter of DIY SOS, but when it comes to TV, he’s really a bit of a jack-of-all-trades.

As he told The Metro in an interview last year: “Over the years I’ve popped into all kinds of places: history, interviews, I wrote a movie, I’ve done quiz shows and natural history.

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“In the noughties I did lots of holiday programmes [and I’d] wanted to do more travel shows for a while.”

Nick KnowlesNick Knowles
Nick Knowles

The presenter also has a passion for trains, which comes from his dad. He told The Metro: “We lived in Southall in London and he’d take me to a metal footbridge with holes in the middle. We’d watch the steam locomotives run by underneath and we’d disappear in a cloud of steam.”

So, it’s easy to see why he signed up for the Channel 5 series Amazing Railway Adventures with Nick Knowles, which began airing in 2022 – and why he enjoyed it so much, he’s now back for a second run.

The first adventure takes him to three capital cities – Prague in the Czech Republic, Bratislava in Slovakia and Budapest in Hungary.

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Before he gets on board the train at Prague, he pays a visit to the city’s 600-year-old astronomical clock. The keeper explains to him how the remarkable and complex clock keeps going, and even lets Nick have go at activating its striking mechanism.

Hopefully, the presenter is also keeping one eye on the time, as he’s got a train to catch – and an appointment to keep. As he departs Prague for Bratislava, he meets up with an expert on Dvorak, who reveals that the Czech composer loved trains and visited the railway station in Prague almost every day.

We could forgive Nick if he considered missing the train though, as there’s a big challenge waiting for him in Bratislava. He’s embarking on a precipitous clamber around the perimeter of an observation tower, which involves balancing on a narrow ledge above an almost 300-foot drop – and Nick doesn’t have a head for heights.

So understandably, he needs to recover afterwards – and how better than by getting back on solid ground and going for a wander through the city? As luck would have it, his walk coincided with nearly 100 vintage and classic cars arriving in Bratislava at the end of a 500km race.

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Then it’s time to get back on board, this time for a train that takes him over the border into Hungary, where he learns more about how Swabian culture is being preserved.

From there it’s on to a real train-lovers’ paradise – the Hungarian Railway Museum, where Nick gets to single-handedly rotates a 147-ton steam engine, thanks to one of the world’s largest functioning turntables.

Then, he ends this leg of his railway adventure in Budapest, where he swaps the trains for a boat, and a river cruise with a couple of reality TV stars, who offer an insight into how young Hungarians view their country. Then it’s back on the rails for a trip on a steam engine with a difference – it’s part of the world’s longest railway run by children.