Cruising with Susan Calman is a dream job

Friday:Cruising with Susan Calman; (Channel 5, 9pm)

No one ever doubted Jane McDonald’s qualifications to present a show about cruising – she first found fame as a singer aboard the luxury ship Galaxy on the BBC’s documentary TV series The Cruise.

However, when Jane stepped down from her Bafta-winning Channel 5 show on the subject, Susan Calman may not have seemed like the obvious candidate to replace her.

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The comedian and presenter had proved a hit with Channel 5 audiences with her own travel shows, including Secret Scotland and Grand Day Out, but they had largely seen her sticking to dry land and the UK.

She admits she had never actually set sail on a cruise liner until it came time to film a festive special.

Luckily, she loved it and soon realised she wanted to carry on cruising in a full series.

In a recent interview, Calman revealed: “I had said to my wife [Lee Cormack], ‘This is something I would like to do more of’ because I really don’t like flying, to put it mildly.”

And so far in this series, her enthusiasm has proved infectious.

She says: “I love people and I love being inquisitive and I love the excitement of meeting new people.

“It is such a privilege to be able to do what we are doing just now, when I know many people haven’t been away.

“So, we are trying to show people everything out there that is still there for them to discover.”

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The third episode finds her exploring what the Mediterranean has to offer.

She’s also been making new friends, and tonight she joins up with them for an excursion to Rome.

They take a guided walking trip around the Italian capital, seeing all the major sights, including the Spanish Steps and the Roman Forum.

In fact, being surrounded by history proves so inspiring, they also sign up for Gladiator School, but can Susan cut it as a Roman warrior?

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Once she’s finished fighting, Susan returns to the ship, where she gets to go behind the scenes of the aqua show and meets the daring divers who somersault off the 17-metre-high platform.

Then it’s on the cruise’s final destination – Naples.

It’s famously the birthplace of margarita pizza, so it would be rude not to have a slice.

Before she tucks in though, the presenter is going to learn the secret to making this Italian favourite with the help of chef Gino.

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Then it’s back to the ship, ready to sail off into the sunset, but the Mediterranean adventure isn’t over quite yet, as there’s going to be a very special on-board performance.

No wonder Cruising with Susan Calman is turning out to be something of a dream job.

The presenter says: “I am 47 years old, and my world has suddenly opened up in a way that I didn’t expect…

“I am doing more stuff and seeing more places than I ever thought I would, and I’m really loving that I am still being challenged to do new things.”