Joanna Lumley’s Great Cities Of The World shows off the real hidden sights of Paris, Berlin and Rome with a touch of glamour, says Sara Wallis
Joanna Lumley is in Paris, popping open bottles of champagne in a hot air balloon.
This is about as fabulous as it gets. With a cigarette or three, it could easily be Patsy up there.
“This is incredible!” she gushes in that famous drawl. “I want to drink a toast to this amazing place.”
She speaks perfect French by the way (of course she does).
Joanna Lumley’s Great Cities Of The World, on ITV on Thursday, starts in Paris, but the actress is off to Berlin and Rome next, exploring lesser-known gems.
Every travel show promises this, but Dame Joanna, oh so glamorous at 75, actually delivers. This is no straight-forward swing past the Eiffel Tower – she speaks to everyone from a refugee bee-keeper to a high-kicking Can Can girl.
Joanna used to visit Paris as a model in the 1960s, finding the city and its people “intoxicating” and always hoping that one day she’d be mistaken for a French woman. She starts with advice from a local on how to grab a waiter’s attention.
“You need to be rude,” says stand-up comic Olivier. “If you’re nice, you’re going to wait half-an-hour for a coffee.”
And how should she attract a man? “Pout your lips,” he says. “Wear only black, don’t smile… they’ll think you’re weird.”
Joanna has funny bones and knows how to bring comedy to proceedings.
In a fashion temple, where Didier Ludot sells vintage treasures to A-listers such as Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon, Joanna puts on a Chanel jacket.
Then Patsy’s voice makes an ever-so brief, but absolutely fabulous appearance. “This is divine!” she says.
As Joanna discusses haute couture with heiress and fashion icon Daphne Guinness, sipping five-star broth in a Parisien restaurant, it’s like a scene from an old Hollywood movie.
But she confronts modern life too, joining The Rosies – a band of feisty women’s rights campaigners in their uniform of blue overall, red headscarf and rubber gloves.
“I must say dancing in rubber gloves is pretty lovely,” she says. “I’m with the sisterhood.”
Joanna’s journey also takes in the Notre Dame cathedral, the Montmartre breakdancing club, and she has a chat with a woman raving about the joy of extra-marital affairs.
Joanna politely declines, ever classy.
At one point she even clambers out of a window on to a roof to meet Ibrahim, a Syrian refugee turned beekeeper.
Finally she heads backstage at the Moulin Rouge, where the girls’ jump splits make her wince. But there’s nothing like a bit of “ooh la la”, darling.
A fun, funny tour de force from an absolute pro.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.