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Channel 5 today announces the location for Michael Palin’s latest major series, to air later this year. 

Michael Palin: Into Nigeria (w/t), produced by ITN Productions is a new three-part 1,300-mile journey series with broadcaster and writer Michael Palin, as he visits this vast country for the first time.

The series is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2022 series Michael Palin: Into Iraq which reached 2.5million viewers and won a prestigious AIB award, and the twice BAFTA and RTS award nominated Michael Palin in North Korea.

Nigeria has a rapidly growing population of 220 million predicted to nearly double by 2050.  It’s expected to become the third most populous country in the world after China and India and a major player on the world stage.

Stories of corruption and violence have often characterised how the country is portrayed in the media, but away from these stories the reality is much more complex.

Michael has never visited Nigeria, and he’s long been fascinated by its story, cultures and significance within the African continent.

Experiencing what life is like in this dynamic country, through the voices, opinions and experiences of Nigerians from all walks of life, he finds a place where optimism can rule in the face of adversity, where world history casts a shadow, and where the modern world and contemporary Africa’s dilemma of wealth and poverty are found side by side.

For Michael, the so called ‘Giant of Africa’ is a story that reflects our contemporary world in so many ways, and his journey explores how Nigerians and their country face the many challenges of now, and the legacies of the past.

Michael Palin said: “Nigeria has the biggest economy, and the biggest population in Africa. The potential of the country is enormous, but so are its problems. Visiting the country for the first time, I saw these problems at first hand, but also caught a whiff of the excitement and energy of the place...

"Sometimes inspiring, sometimes a perplexing challenge, my journey through this rich, raucous mix of a country hardly gave me time to draw breath. I came home exhausted but exhilarated. And, as in the best of journeys, feeling I know a lot more about the world.”

Starting in Lagos, Michael experiences a city of contrasting extremes, from heart wrenching poverty to extravagant wealth.  With his Nigerian and UK production team, Michael flies 1000 kilometres to the Islamic North, a completely different land of Sharia law and Boko Haram strongholds, before starting a challenging road trip down through the spine of this country. 

With roadside attacks and kidnapping a very real threat, Michael and his team need to travel with armed guards.   But his journey reveals a very different Nigeria and its people - one of stunning nature and beauty, strong cultures, and welcoming people.

With Nigeria set to be central to developments and events way beyond its boundaries in the next decades, this is the time to understand this major global player through the eyes and experiences of its people in this awe-inspiring place.  For Michael, at 80, it may well turn out to be the most prophetic journey of his life.

Guy Davies, Channel 5 Factual Commissioning Editor Non scripted UK Originals Channel 5 / Paramount+, said: “It’s a thrill that Michael’s new journey is again with Channel 5 after two masterful series’ with us. Nigeria is more than an epic and beautiful journey, it’s a look at the future and past in a global context...

"It’s also one of the most extraordinarily visual and heartfelt series you’ll ever see, and who better than Michael to listen and learn as he meets the people of a country whose significance and influence will rise over the coming decades.”

Will Smith, Head of Factual, ITN Productions, added: "We're delighted to be working with Michael again as he explores one of the most important yet least understood countries in the world. During a challenging journey down the spine on the country Michael goes beyond the stereotypes to reveal a land of extreme contrasts and beguiling beauty. As Nigeria's influence grows on the world stage this is a timely exploration of “The Giant of Africa."

A book to accompany the series will publish next year.


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