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Romesh Ranganathan talks more BBC misadventures

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Romesh Ranganathan talks more BBC misadventures

BAFTA-winning factual entertainment series, The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan, is returning to BBC Two and iPlayer for a fourth three-part series at 9pm on Wednesday 29 May.

In 2018, producers challenged Romesh – whose idea of a nice trip away is two weeks in the Algarve – to venture way beyond his comfort zone and travel to some of the most naturally beautiful but not traditionally tourist-friendly places on earth for the first series of Misadventures. Since then, he’s traversed countries from Colombia to the Canadian Arctic – even picking up a Best Features BAFTA for his efforts along the way.

With Romesh now having ticked a dozen destinations off the bucket list he didn’t know he had, he’s travelling over 5000 miles away to visit the final three places on the list, before deciding to finally hang up his passport for good. His African journey begins on the mainland in Uganda (episode 1) before moving on to Rwanda (episode 2) and culminates in the island nation of Madagascar (episode 3).

Hi Romesh. Viewers will soon see you setting off on your final series of Misadventures. Why did you choose Uganda, Rwanda and Madagascar as your final three destinations?

We wanted this series to be an adventure, so doing the trip in one felt like the best way to do it – in a way we haven’t done before. Plus, I think people in the UK sometimes see Africa as homogeneous, so exploring three different African countries quite close to each other, with completely different cultures and experiences, felt like a wonderful opportunity.

Did you have preconceived ideas about any of the countries?

Uganda was one where I had only known about Idi Amin and its history, plus just before we arrived, they had passed a series of harsh LGBTQ+ laws. With Rwanda, I obviously knew about the horrible genocide that took place there, as well as the fact that Rwanda has been in the news a lot recently.

Madagascar was the country that, beyond a film that wasn’t a documentary about some escaped zoo animals, I knew very little about. I knew it would have lemurs, and on that front it did not disappoint.

How difficult did you find it to push those perceptions to the side and go into the trip with an open mind?

You know that even if you try to push those preconceptions aside, they could still sit at the back of your mind. You visit these countries trying to delete those and take your experiences at face value. That can be difficult and sometimes you catch yourself out. But you want to be open to everything you see without being patronising. That’s the aim.

What was the most bizarre situation you found yourself in (or the producers pushed you into!) this series?

I think that the time spent with the mountain gorillas in Rwanda felt incredibly bizarre, because to be so in and amongst nature like that is a real sensory overload. It was probably one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. Thankfully my veganism meant that when Bic, my Madagascan co-host, was eating Zebu penis soup, I could politely decline to join in.

The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan

Along with the humour, there are a number of sobering moments in the series, including your visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial and your conversation with the Ugandan LGBTQ+ activist about the country’s new anti-homosexuality laws. Did these experiences leave you feeling conflicted about your time in any of the countries?

The Kigali memorial was one of the saddest experiences I have ever had. My co-host, Hippo, had been through some of the worst experiences you could imagine anyone suffering, and so to see what he has made of himself was truly inspiring.

The anti-homsexuality laws in Uganda, to be honest, left me feeling incredibly conflicted, while also wanting to be respectful of the country I was in. The conversation with the activist was heartbreaking. It took me a while to be able to think about anything else.

Since series one in 2018, Misadventures has taken you around the world to countries you otherwise would likely never have visited. What is your main take-away after doing four series of the show?

It has been a privilege to be able to do these shows. Many people have visited countries as a result of watching the series and I get messages from so many of them. I think my main take-away is that, if you are an open-minded traveller, pretty much every country has something rewarding to offer, with varying levels of comfort and adventure.

We often get to see a more serious side of you on Misadventures than we do on some of your other comedy shows. Have you enjoyed being able to share that side with viewers?

When I did the first series, I was actually worried about that. The show combines humour with some very serious elements and I didn’t know how people would feel about seeing me in that context. It’s now one of the things that I am and always will be most proud of – in the context, of course, of me not being very proud of anything I do.

You won your first BAFTA for Misadventures in 2020. Where does that particular award win rank in your list of career highlights?

It’s one of my biggest achievements. I love the show and think we have made some great films, so to have that recognised is brilliant. It also made my mum very happy.

When you started Misadventures in 2018, you said your idea of a nice trip away is two weeks in the Algarve. Now that you’ve travelled the world and experienced so many different cultures, where do you plan on going for your next holiday?

Two weeks in Greece. The next Misadventure will be getting sand off my sun-creamed torso.

The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan returns to BBC Two and iPlayer at 9pm on Wednesday 29 May.

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