Celebrities join Pilgrimage: The Road Through Portugal

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Friday: Pilgrimage: The Road Through Portugal (BBC2, 9pm)

There are many traditions associated with Easter, and Pilgrimage, the series in which celebrities undertake a trek to learn more about their own spirituality, is fast becoming one of them.

It’s now back for a fifth iteration, with a new crop of seven famous faces of differing faiths – actress Su Pollard, who was raised Church of England; Jewish actress Rita Simons; Pentecostal Born-Again Christian, Shane Lynch of Boyzone fame; reality TV star and influencer, Vicky Pattison, who is agnostic; Bobby Seagull, a practising Catholic, maths whizz and TV personality; Nabil Abdulrashid, a comedian and practising Muslim; and Paralympian skier Millie Knight, who is non-practising Church of England.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They are meeting in Portugal for a modern-day Catholic pilgrimage known as the Northern Way. It will take them 364km by foot, road and train to the famous Sanctuary in the city of Fatima, where in 1917, three local shepherd children reported seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

They’ll be expected to carry their own backpacks and stay in hostels, camp sites and even a working fire station. The celebrities won’t be able to take their own sweet time getting there either – in a Pilgrimage first, they are working to a deadline, as they need to arrive in time for a major celebration which ends with a spectacular night-time candlelit vigil, attended by nearly 70,000 pilgrims.

Their 15-day itinerary should allow time to visit some places of historical interest en route, and to sample a few local delicacies, but it is going to be tough. So, what made our pilgrims sign up?

For many them of them, they are hoping it will be a chance to ask themselves some big questions. Pollard says: “I’m not deeply religious but I do like to think that God is my friend and when you’re on a journey like this, without your usual comforting things around you, you’ve got more time to talk to yourself and ask yourself certain questions.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It’s also a chance to learn more about different faiths. Abdulrashid says: “I went on a pilgrimage to Mecca as a kid, but I’m yet to do it as an adult, so it’s kind of funny that I’m going on a Catholic pilgrimage first!

“Obviously, I will not be partaking in any of the religious rituals, but I’ll obviously give them their due respect, as I like seeing and learning new things. Watching any group of people do something for the sake of God, even if it’s not my way, will be inspiring.

He adds: “I’m not looking forward to sleeping in tents and dorms. I’ve never shared a room, except in marriage. I like my space and being in a dorm with people, inhaling other people’s farts, will be a challenge. But there are worse situations in life – I’m just being a diva.”

Before they get to that stage of intimacy though, the celebs will be getting to know each other in this opening episode, and taking their first steps on what could be a journey of self-discovery.