My favourite ever travel show was a little-known, modest number on Channel 4 called Travelog, hosted by the late and much-lamented author and comedian Pete McCarthy. In it, a series of guest presenters travelled to far-flung places to send back highly personalised accounts of the local holiday destinations. Not that they were always what you’d call tourist hotspots. I remember Andy Kershaw travelling to Pyongyang, which isn’t exactly bursting with holiday reps.
Travel Man, hosted by the magnificently arch Richard Ayoade and a different guest comedian each week, is a worthy successor to Travelog. Like its predecessor, it features funny, personal and quirky accounts of destinations, mixing the most popular tourist attractions with some less familiar activities. And because each show is filmed in a European city, and aimed at the mini-break market, it is actually going to be practically and financially viable to follow in their footsteps. Every penny is accounted for, giving a sound, practical indication of how hard your wallet will be hit.
The beauty of this show is that it is as entertaining as it is informative. You can watch it and take mental notes about the places to go and the things to do, or you can just sit back and watch Ayoade and guest wisecrack their way through the city.
This week, Ayoade and fellow comedian Rob Delaney (star of Channel 4’s sitcom Catastrophe) travel to Seville, Europe’s sunniest city, with 3,000 hours of sun a year. The capital of Andalucia, and the fourth-largest city in Spain, it is also the nation’s largest inland river port, since you ask, and can be reached in a two-and-a-half hour flight.
Related: Saga’s Gems of Andalusia river cruise takes in Seville
Ayoade and Delaney arrive at their hotel, where they have booked a glorious suite and a much smaller room. “Oh, this is very you,” exclaims Ayoade on entering the latter. They then kick things off by going on a running sightseeing tour, hosted by a lycra-clad local. Each, I suppose, to their own, but having been to Andalucia in the summer, it’s not the kind of place I’d be mad keen to jog around. Their route takes in the third-largest cathedral in the world, before our exhausted duo slip away to replenish calories with a local delicacy, a deep-fried pastry dipped in chocolate sauce. You’d need to run to Granada and back to work that off.
Next up is the Metropol Parasol, the largest wooden structure in the world, a fabulous creation that took six years and more than a few Euros to build, before it’s time for a flamenco lesson. “Gosh this is hard,” complains Ayoade of the inarguably gentle lesson. “This is like Black Swan.”
The day ends with dinner, a guided tapas tour. Basically, you can hire someone to come and have dinner with you, and tell you about local dishes. After years of looking, I have finally encountered a job that is cushier than being a TV critic.
The next day, after buying sweets from a convent (I’m not entirely sure why) Delaney and Ayoade get in the car and head to Fort Bravo, a film set and wild west theme park in the Sierra Nevada. Here. Ayoade rides a horse for the first time in his life, and the pair watch a dramatic shoot-out, complete with a stuntman falling off a balcony. “Thank goodness that mattress was there.” “What are the chances?” Finally, they retire for a drink. Or, as Ayoade puts it, “Like the brooding heroes of yesteryear, we head to the saloon for a Fanta.”
And so the weekend draws to a close. Did they enjoy it? “We ate a lot of ham. By the ham index, it was a triumph,” says Delaney. Seville, by the way, looks rather wonderful.
Related: Saga’s Great Cities of Spain by Rail visits Seville, as well as Barcelona and Madrid
Travel Man: 48 Hours in Seville, Friday 25th March, 8:30pm, Channel 4