Sandi Toksvig visits Extraordinary Escapes

Wednesday: Extraordinary Escapes with Sandi Toksvig; (Channel 4, 9pm)
Sandi Toksvig and Alison SteadmanSandi Toksvig and Alison Steadman
Sandi Toksvig and Alison Steadman

Leaving a hit show is never a good idea, right? After all, you have no idea if you’re ever going to find another again.

So when Sandi Toksvig announced she was quitting The Great British Bake Off, which she had co-hosted with Noel Fielding since the programme swapped the BBC for Channel 4, many people were aghast.

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Admittedly, the Bake Off does get folk in a lather – that much-publicised move was met with howls of derision at the time. However, its new home is just as good and, dare we say it, in some ways the programme is even better than before.

It’s certainly survived a cast revamp – only Paul Hollywood remains from the original line-up – so it wasn’t the show viewers were worried about, it was Toksvig herself. We like her, and we’d love to see her again rather than disappear into that netherworld populated by long-forgotten TV presenters who made the mistake of quitting while they were on top.

But we needn’t have worried. Since leaving, she’s continued to pop up as the host of QI and has fronted The Write Offs, a series about adult literacy. And now she’s back, becoming the latest in a long line of celebrities to have their own travelogue show.

In each edition, she will explore a different region of the UK with a female celebrity, taking in the local flora and fauna, as well as man-made landmarks, while learning more about her companion.

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“When it was suggested that I travel around the UK accompanied by four brilliant women, I had to double check this was work,” smiles Toksvig. “This past year has been a journey of exploration for many of us, and it was a joy to find so many beautiful, quirky and remote bolt-holes around almost every corner. And quite honestly, as much as I adore my family, it’s been wonderful just to leave the house.”

Deborah Dunnett, Commissioning Editor for Formats & Features at Channel 4 adds: “Extraordinary landscapes and daring architecture aside, this is a show about getting away from it all. About what happens when you take the time to stop and ponder, in glorious isolation. The fact that Sandi is joined throughout the series by a cast of clever, funny, female only travel buddies makes it even more thrilling.”

Future episodes will feature comedian Sindhi Vee, actor Jessica Hynes and culinary expert Prue Leith, Toksvig’s close friend since their days on the aforementioned Bake Off. But the run begins with acclaimed star of stage and screen Alison Steadman. The duo are in rural Suffolk, where they begin their trip on the Heritage Coast with a sleepover at a 19th century Martello Tower, which has been turned into a home with views across the sea; it also has the beach on its doorstep. From there they explore a 5,000-acre wildlife conservation area before staying at a 17th-century thatched cottage with its own moat, and concluding their trip at a former priory which has been offering hospitality and sanctuary to visitors since the 11th century.

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