Susan Calman’s hits NI for a 'Grand Day Out'
Susan Calman’s Grand Day Out (Channel 5, 8pm)
Current events – not to mention the weather – can make the world seem like a pretty grim place at times, but there is one consistent source of sunshine to be found and that is Susan Calman.
Her trips around the UK’s many and varied destinations are a joy, and the fact this show is already in its fourth series is a testament to her popularity – as well, of course, to the vast range of fascinating parts of the country that exist and the many things there are to do at them.
This week she and Helen (her trusty camper van – named after Helen Mirren, natch) head to Northern Ireland’s dramatic coastline, beginning in Glenariff.
Glenariff is the largest of the nine Glens of Antrim, stretching over 270 square miles, and by far the most popular when it comes to tourism. Like the other glens in the area, the dramatic landscape was carved out by huge glaciers during the Ice Age, and today, the valley that has resulted is simply – no pun intended – gorgeous.
Calman hails from Glasgow, just a few hours away from Glencoe, so it takes a lot to take her breath away – but Glenariff manages it.
Next up there’s a trip to Glenarm Castle and its estate, which is home to one of the island of Ireland’s oldest walled gardens. Our intrepid host also gets a tour of the historic castle itself, before taking a ride around the estate’s roads in a vintage car.
Then it’s off to coast to sample a local delicacy – dulse, a red seaweed-like algae also known as sea lettuce – before travelling to nearby Portstewart for a traditional dance recital with a very modern twist.
Calman is a keen golfer so it’s not without some excitement that she plays a hole at Royal Portrush, one of the most beautiful and challenging courses in the world. Although to be fair, there is little that Calman does do without some excitement.
There’s time for a basket-making lesson and a tour of the world’s oldest whiskey distillery for a tasting (or in Susan’s case, a sniffing), but for us the highlight of this leg of her journey is to come next.
She gets to flex her artistic streak with an activity called “Drag and Draw” in which, much as the name suggests, artists assemble to capture a drag queen on canvas.
That today’s model is none other than Northern Ireland’s own Blu Hydrangea, who was recently crowned champion of RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK vs the World, is a real bonus.
Regular viewers, though, might recall that Susan is aiming to do one thing that scares her on each of her adventures.
This week, it’s a wobbly walk across a 20-metre-long rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede, with a 30-metre drop. Yikes!