Prepare to be surprised by Dame Darcey Bussell in her new travel series. The former ballerina does a lot of things you would not expect, even donning a wetsuit and taking a dip in freezing cold waters while visiting the Isle of Skye.
“I’ve never done wild swimming, and I’ve never had an urge to try it, knowing how cold it is,” said the 51-year-old. “But in those surroundings it was very spiritual. It was quite magical and weird and wonderful!”
We are used to seeing the dancer extraordinaire on stage or judging celebrities on Strictly (she quit the show in 2019). But we see a whole different side to her in Darcey Bussell’s Wild Scottish Coast, in which she takes in Skye, the Outer Hebrides, Islay, Jura and Bute.
The four-part series presented the former ballerina with unusual experiences, including being face to face with one of the rarest breeds of pony, making a crossing across the sands with a herd of Highland cattle, and seeing one of the wonders of the natural world – the Corryvreckan whirlpool.
“For your mental and physical wellbeing, the outdoors is everything,” she reflected. “It’s the best medicine you could get.”
Darcey has a lot of family history in Scotland, and so relished the chance to find out more about her ancestry. And it was emotional exploring Bute, a place she had heard so much about from her grandfather, who spent many childhood summers on the island.
“I kept saying to him, ‘I will go and see it’, and I was always upset I never got that possibility when he was still alive,” said the star, who has two daughters with her husband, Angus Forbes. “So, to actually finally be there, it did really, really hit me.”
One memory from Bute that stood out was filming at St Blanes – a ruin of an old chapel. “But it had this energy, this magic about it – and it was just ruins,” she recalled.
We see Darcey help a family with their Highland cows. She gushed that the “giant, hairy” animals were “so beautiful, they’re full of character”.
But it wouldn’t be a show presented by Bussell without dancing and Meena Watts, who teaches Bollywood dance, offers Darcey an impromptu lesson.
Meanwhile, Sophie Stephenson, who is keeping Skye’s ancient dancing tradition alive, teaches her some new moves.
As a child, Darcey did a lot of Scottish dancing with her grandfather taking her to ceilidhs.
“It was lovely to see quite a few people who are carrying on this tradition,” she added.
Darcey Bussell’s Wild Scottish Coast, More4, Monday, 9pm
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