Best Drives With Richard Wilson
ever hankered to rekindle the
days when motoring was one of lifes
gentle pastimes, rather than a rat-race
necessity, share those days with Richard
Wilson as he recreates some golden
moments for Britains
six interesting classic cars...
CONSIDERED BY MANY TO BE THE GOLDEN AGE OF MOTORING, the 1950s was an era
when there was more leisure time in the UK and the whole family looked forward
to a Sunday afternoon driving in the country. With less traffic on the roads,
you could relax and enjoy the fabulous scenery as you drove along.
Armed with a 1959 edition of Motoring Holidays In Britain instead of
a SatNav and driving a classic vehicle from the Fifties for each of six locations,
Richard Wilson takes to the road with a soundtrack of suitable period
music to find out how his chosen routes have changed in half a century
for the television series Britain's Best Drives With Richard Wilson,
now available on DVD.
With the advent of the motorways the M1 was opened in 1958 you
could get to your destination much quicker, but you could miss out on Britain's
lovely scenic countryside. Driving has turned into a traffic-fuelled, stressful
bore but Richard shows you how to put the Ooh! back into motoring.
Richard drives a Morris Minor Traveller, 1957 Ford Zodiac, a Mini, Volkswagen
Camper Van, Triumph TR3 and an Austin A30 and checks his guide book for places
of particular interest including historical Tintern Abbey and Cumbria's
Although many places have remained in perfect condition, many others have closed
or have suffered vandalism. Britain's Best Drives With Richard Wilson
finds a Britain that has been ravaged by motorways and car-mania but that still
has some remarkably unspoilt swathes of countryside.
Richard travels Yorkshire's A169, described in 1953 as being "probably the finest
moorland road in the world". It takes him through the magnificent Dalby Forest
to meet the author whose work inspired the Heartbeat series, to the traditional
seaside town of Scarborough and to Whitby, the Goth capital of the world. Ably
assisted by 1957 Chevrolet-owner Goth Paul and his charming friends to reach
ancient Whitby Abbey, an inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula, Richard says:
"You never know when a Mohican-ed vintage car enthusiast will come in handy!"
Britain's Best Drives With Richard Wilson is a fascinating road trip
that showcases much of Britain's beautiful landscape and wonderful characters
who have recollections from the past and interesting viewpoints on the changes
we see today. Capturing the spirit of enthusiasm and enjoyment of the bygone
era, Britain's Best Drives is an exploration of Britain at its best and
most beautiful, featuring timeless scenes and stunning aerial views.
Richard's guidebook states that: "England, Scotland and Wales between them are
the finest countries in the world for motoring holidays". And Richard has recaptured
some of that old magic along with experiencing the problems and pitfalls of
today's motoring. In fifty years, routes have changed and slip roads, bypasses
and new junctions have been built that make routes less peaceful and scenic
than they once were.
Richard's Welsh adventure takes in Caernarfon with its splendid castle and circles
Mount Snowdon. Richard finds handsome lakes, mountains, the lovely village of
Beddgelert and the breathtaking sight of the Dinorwic Slate Quarry that closed
in 1969. He meets Welsh language expert Bethan Gwanas, 71-year-old solo climber
and base-jumper Eric Jones, who was the first British climber to solo the north
face of the Matterhorn, and three former Butlin's ladies one of whom
used to date Ringo Starr!
At the North Cornish coast, Richard delves into a very un-PC Fifties guidebook
The Blue Book Guide To Cornwall which extols the
virtues of Cornwall: "The inhabitants are, racially, quite different from those
in other parts of England" and Cornwall comes "without the drawback of long
and fatiguing travel, foreign language, unusual habits and strange attendants"!
Exploring the spectacular rugged coast of North Cornwall in a Volkswagen Camper
Van, Richard tackles the B3306, considered in 1959 to be "one of the finest
coast roads in Britain". He takes in the cultural mecca of St Ives and meets
artists Anthony Frost, son of sculptor and painter Sir Terry Frost, and 95-year-old
Bob Crossley. Then it's on to the ancient and picturesque Zennor to investigate
the village's associations with D H Lawrence and visit the 12th Century church
that bears testimony to the legend of the mermaid Morveren. Richard's next stop,
on his way to Land's End, is one of the dramatic ruins of Cornwall's tin mining
In the wildly beautiful landscape of the Lake District, Richard experiences
the delightful lakes, grassy mountains and twisting roads of Wordsworth country
and tackles the challenging stretch of road The Struggle that
rises 1,500 feet in just three miles up to The Kirkstone Pass Inn, where he
celebrates his 72nd birthday with a chocolate cake.
The area has been a national park since 1951 and comes under the responsibility
of Chief Executive Richard Leafe. The highlights of this tour are the fabulous
lakes, Windermere and Ullswater and coming face-to-face with the hardy
Produced by Jonney Steven, Britain's Best Drives benefits from the companionable
Richard Wilson, the evocative voice of Christopher Slade on the guidebooks and
the beautiful aerial photography by Matt Wyer. The Series is Produced and Directed
by Neil Edwards who also makes a guest appearance for some lighter moments.
Travel back in time to this golden age of motoring with the wonderful BBC series
Britain's Best Drives. National treasure Richard Wilson (One Foot
In The Grave, Merlin) sees Britain through a car window and takes
the scenic route for this hugely entertaining and educational series.
Britain's Best Drives With Richard Wilson
is released on 6 April (2009) with a RRP of £19.99. Catalogue No: AV9709 | Running
Time: 204 Minutes Approximately.
Unseen Footage: 1 The AA Man | 2 Pen Y Gwryd Hotel | 3 Sir Nigel Gresley | 4
The Crown of Wye Valley | 5 Lake Windermere | Richard Wilson Filmography | Picture
"The Best of the evening's travel presenters: roguish, cynical and excitable"
"He's such charming company… Lovely" The Guardian
"Britain's Best Drives is an exploration of Britain at its best and most
beautiful, featuring timeless scenes and stunning aerial views" Maggie