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Seals, shipwrecks and secrets: Paul O’Grady’s UK tours open for business

© SYSTEMPaul O'Grady's Great British Escapes.
Paul O'Grady's Great British Escapes.

Holidays – even staycations – may be off the cards for now but Paul O’Grady is showing us what we can expect once things open back up again.

Once the lockdowns lift, and the tier system allows, holidays to England will be a tantalising possibility, and Paul reckons the south-east is one of the UK’s most beautiful regions – despite the bad press it’s had in the past few years.

To say that the presenter has been surprised by what he’s found on his own doorstep is an understatement.

He says: “Kent is known as the garden of England but her beauty has been slightly tarnished lately because all you hear about Kent is lorry parks and Operation Stack on the M20.

“I think it’s about time Kent was given a fair hearing because there’s some lovely stuff down here and a hell of a lot I haven’t seen, you know.”

The latest episode of the domestic travel series sees the Birkenhead-born host explore Kent’s stunning coastline that stretches over 350 miles – and hides many surprising secrets.

He starts in Dover Harbour, boarding a speed boat to blast along the white cliffs.

“When you see the white cliffs of Dover and you think this is the first thing the pilots saw when they were flying back from a mission in France, they must have breathed a sigh of relief,” he said. “It makes you sort of proud…this should be on the National Health for people with depression – it’s just magnificent.”

Wednesday’s journey takes Paul past wartime tunnels and over long-lost shipwrecks before he has an emotional encounter with some of Kent’s more unexpected residents – a colony of harbour seals.

Back on land, Paul heads further up the coast to the picture-perfect seaside town of Broadstairs, which was once the favourite holiday spot of author Charles Dickens.

Paul meets the author’s great-great-great-granddaughter Lucinda and they uncover a remarkable coincidence between their two families and an amazing story about Paul’s ancestors murky past.

In 1849, Dickens witnessed the double hanging of Paul’s relatives, the notorious

Mannings convicted of a murder known as the “Bermondsey Horror”.

No trip along the coastline would be complete without sampling Kent’s most famous seafood export – native oysters.

Perhaps we should all take a leaf out of Paul O’Grady’s book, and go in search of hidden gems close to home.


Paul O’Grady’s Great British Escape, ITV, Wednesday, 8pm