Miriam and Alan get lost in Scotland and beyond
Miriam and Alan: Lost in Scotland and Beyond (C4, 9.15pm)
Miriam Margolyes and Alan Cumming.
They sound, on paper at least, like the ideal partnership, perhaps long-standing friends comfortable in each other’s company. And so it’s somewhat surprising to learn that they barely knew each other before filming began on last year’s travelogue, Miriam & Alan: Lost in Scotland.
Cumming was already in discussions with Blink Films about a Scottish-themed series when he was invited to appear on The Graham Norton Show to publicise his role in the play Endgame at the Old Vic. One of his fellow guests turned out to be – you guessed it – Margolyes, who was due to wax lyrical about her part in the smash-hit BBC drama Call The Midwife.
“I thought we sparred well,” smiles Cummings. “And I thought it would be a good combo and it was – it worked out really well.”
Before the show hit the screens, however, there were some naysayers.
“When I would tell people about it, they’d be like, ‘What?! You and Miriam Margolyes in a van?’ It was varying degrees of horror and confusion, and actually, it’s really great.
“It’s not generic; that’s really nice, to have less cookie-cutter sort of television. We’re an oddball couple, but we had a great time.”
“I thought that it was an unfolding of each other and of Scotland at the same time,” adds Margolyes. “We’re taking in what we were looking at, and the people we were meeting – and we were also discovering each other’s personalities and characters and learning about that.
“It’s a very rare thing, I think, to have that pleasure, that you really get on with your colleague.”
Cummings, whose credits include GoldenEye, Doctor Who, The Good Wife and The High Life, also hopes the gap between the stars – he’s 57, she’s 81 – proves there’s no age barrier to friendship.
“Intergenerational friendship is a very interesting thing that you don’t see very often,” suggests Cumming. “To encourage people to maybe think outside the box a little bit more about who they get to know and who they travel with and experiences they have, that was something I really liked about the series.”
It seems that lots of other people loved it too, because the duo are back for another set of adventures, which they’re both rather thrilled about.
“I can’t wait to get the show on the road again,” laughs Cummings. “Driving around with a potty-mouthed octogenarian was one of the most joyous months I’ve ever had.” Margolyes agrees: “It will be a joy to get going again; I hope I’ve got some surprises left to tickle his fancy.”
This time, as the title suggests, they’re not just taking their trusty campervan north of the border, although that’s where they start, with a trip on the Harry Potter Express steam train before visiting the Cairngorms and catching up with fellow thespian Brian Cox.
Future episodes will see the duo head to America’s west coast, where both have worked in the past. However, they’re hoping to see parts of Los Angeles and San Francisco they’ve never seen before – and we can’t wait to find out how they get on.