Sheila Hancock and Gyles Brandreth take over boating duties for Channel 4

Best on the Box this Sunday takes us on a waterway journey.

Over the years, Timothy West and Prunella Scales have taken viewers on many glorious canal and river journeys around the world.

Now, they’re passing on the tiller to two brand-new boaters – actress Sheila Hancock and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth – who are celebrating 40 years of friendship by making new memories together and learning new skills.

Sheila finds she’s a natural helmswoman, while Gyles is, well, a natural passenger. But together they learn, laugh, grow – and fall in love with life at 4mph.

Timothy West and Prunella Scales

In this first part of a two-part tour exploring London’s waterways, Sheila and Gyles learn the ropes with Tim, and set out by themselves along the upper reaches of the River Thames. It’s the same river that roars past their homes in London, but just 50 miles upstream it’s an Arcadian paradise of unspoiled nature, royal retreats and river regattas.

They make new friends along the way: an inventor who’s building steampunk watercraft in his riverside workshop, and paddle-boarders who are recycling river rubbish into boards. At Henley, Sheila joins in a training session with Britain’s future Olympic female rowers, and at Royal Windsor, they hold an onboard concert of Handel’s Water Music, which was composed to be played on the river back in 1717.

Great Canal Journeys, Channel 4, 8pm

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