TV Review: Last Woman on Earth with Sara Pascoe, BBC Two

News: Last Leg Guests Tonight

There was a fuss a while back about the lack of female travel series presenters on mainstream television. Joanna Lumley seemed to be flying a fairly solitary flag, but now here comes Sara Pascoe to pick up the baton with her own series looking at, and trying her hand at “the world’s most endangered jobs”.

You could say that Pascoe is making a bid to be the anti-Michael Palin here. Although, like Palin, she is a great comedian, she somehow lacked the effortless charm that he naturally exudes. The first episode was set in Cuba and because of the language barrier she had various guides accompanying her, which maybe meant that it was hard for her to hit it off instantly with the locals, but then this was never often a problem Palin had.

In fact there seemed to be something weird about even one of her guide's encounters with one of the locals. When Pascoe stood in for a woman whose job is to look after the spectacles that go on a park bench John Lennon statue Pascoe's guide fell out with the woman, who for some inexplicable reason that we never got to the bottom of, didn't want anything to do with him. Pascoe had her own issues when she tried to be a factory "lectora" - a storyteller who entertains the workers. There was smattering of polite applause for her tale of growing up in Essex but it was no Live at the Apollo vibe.

There were certainly some interesting insights here - we met a man in Havana who puts together illicit TV compilations for the locals who are starved of capitalist culture. It was fun to see him working in secret and then distributing his dodgy copies. But maybe his days are numbered - it surely can't be long before Cubans get access to the same crap reality shows that we have in the rest of the world. So that maybe makes him one of the endangered species the programme brief refers to. 

Despite a certain awkwardness – and what seemed like an ongoing obession with online porn or the lack of it – Pascoe did eventually get more involved as a host and when she visited the countryside got properly stuck into climbing a coconut tree. But then if the 98-year-old man she met had only just stopped doing it she could hardly bottle it could she? She shimmied up the tree, had a mini-meltdown and then came down.

It was certainly a colourful episode – I expect if she launched a fashion line based on the clothes she wore she could build up a successful side hustle. But I don't think she needs to. Sara Pascoe is pretty hot property TV-wise at the moment. Her recent BBC sitcom Out of her Mind was excellent. Although I don't think Michael Palin needs to have any sleepless nights. 

Last Woman on Earth with Sara Pascoe, BBC Two, watch on catch-up here. 

Picture: BBC/Talkback/Fremantle


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