Arts and culture

From Mexican deserts to Scotland's oldest forests: TV programmes to give you wanderlust this week

The Yorkshire Wolds
The Yorkshire Wolds Credit: AP

Saturday May 20

Yorkshire Wolds Way with Paul Rose (BBC Two, 8pm)

Adventurer Paul Rose concludes his exploration of the 79-mile Yorkshire Wolds Way, taking to the skies to get a unique view of its stretch of chalk downland. He also receives a special invitation to a military base.

Walks with My Dog (Channel Four, 8pm)

Bill Bailey returns to his West Country roots for a walk on Exmoor with his dog Louie, while Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark takes in the tranquility of the Isle of Arran. Previously seen on More4.

Sunday May 21

Countryfile (BBC One, 6.30pm)

Matt Baker explores the rise and fall of the orchards in the Clyde Valley. Ellie Harrison heads to some of Scotland's oldest forests and meets an urban beekeeper, and Sean Fletcher visits a traditional mill using machinery that is centuries old.

A waterfall in the Clyde Valley Credit: AP

Mexico: Earth's Festival of Life (BBC Two, 8pm)

The series concludes by exploring the north of the country, which is dominated by two deserts - the Sonoran and the Chihuahuan. The programme examines the conditions that have shaped this environment, and reveals how animals including prairie dogs, pygmy owls and aplomado falcons have adapted to thrive in these arid conditions.

Dara and Ed's Road to Mandalay (BBC Two, 8pm)

Dara O Briain and Ed Byrne arrive in Myanmar at a time of great political change. After 50 years of military rule, the first elections were held, heralding a new era of democracy. Along the way, the duo take part in a Buddhist Festival of Light, have their fortunes read from chicken bones and try to master the art of `leg rowing'.

Dara O'Briain and Ed Byrne's Road to Mandalay Credit: BBC

Cabins in the Wild with Dick Strawbridge (Channel 4, 8pm)

Eight teams transform cabins across Wales into luxury tourist accommodation inspired by local mythology, traditions and landscapes, which together will form a pop-up hotel that can be moved around the country. The projects are overseen by presenters Dick Strawbridge and Will Hardie, who will also design their own cabin for the hotel. The first programme features two builds that are inspired by the Welsh dragon - one designed to look like the mythological beast's eye while another is modelled on its claws.

Monday May 22

Greece with Simon Reeve (BBC Two, 4.15pm)

The presenter takes a tour of the country, travelling from the islands of the Aegean to Athens. Along the way he meets local people including gun-toting priests and the last sponge-divers in the world, and discovers how they are coping with their country's current crises. Repeat

Athens Credit: AP

The Riviera: A History in Pictures (BBC Two, 9pm)

Actor Richard E Grant follows in the footsteps of artists who lived and painted on France's Cote d'Azur, renowned for its sunny climate. The first edition focuses on the relationship between modern art and the location's development as an international tourist haven. Cezanne, Monet and Renoir were captivated by the light and colour of the landscape in the 19th century and their resultant work advertised the region's beauty. Meanwhile, the area's vivid hues inspired Henri Matisse to adopt a new palette that set modern art on the route to abstraction. Repeat

Francesco's Italy Top to Toe (BBC Four, 10pm)

Author and architect Francesco da Mosto presents a guide to his native Italy. He starts in the North, where he views Leonardo's Last Supper in Milan and explores one of the world's oldest universities. He also visits Florence, the birthplace of Renaissance art, and Verona, the setting for Romeo and Juliet, before going underwater to see the statue of Christ off the coast of Portofino. Repeat

Portofino, Italy

Tuesday May 23

Greece with Simon Reeve (BBC Two, 4.15pm)

Simon Reeve travels from the Peloponnese peninsula into the mountainous north of the country. He meets local people including a group of rebel monks and conservationists caring for an injured bear, and discovers how they are coping with the political crises affecting Greece. Repeat

Great British Railway Journeys (BBC Four, 7.30pm)

Michael Portillo sets off from Motherwell as he continues his journey through southern Scotland, celebrating the Victorian iron and steel industry and admires one of its crowning achievements - the Forth Rail Bridge. He then visits the Falls of Clyde, which inspired Wordsworth and Coleridge, heads to Cumbernauld to learn about the origins of one of Scotland's best-selling soft drinks, and in Linlithgow he marvels at the ingenuity of the engineers who built the Union Canal. Repeat

Tate Britain’s Great British Walks (Sky Arts, 9pm)

Actor Michael Sheen joins art curator Gus Casely-Hayford on a moving journey back to his native South Wales as they walk in the footsteps of artist Josef Herman, a Jewish refugee who came to Britain in the 40s after fleeing Nazi oppression on the continent. One day in 1944, Herman visited the mining town of Ystradgynlais for a short holiday and felt so inspired by the local community that he decided to settle there for the next 11 years. After admiring a collection of Herman’s works at the Tate in London, the pair  travel to Ystradgynlais, t to get a feel for the local communities and gain a greater understanding of Herman’s influential work.

Wednesday May 24

Heathrow: Britain's Busiest Airport (ITV, 9pm)

The final episode of the series follows the airport's challenge in departing 100,000 passengers a day. At Terminal 4, Passenger Experience manager Numan has to deal with 40 angry customers after a flight to New York is cancelled, with the travellers demanding to be rebooked immediately. One of the busiest departures of the week is the flight to Dhaka in Bangladesh, and customer service agents Carrie-Anne and Selina step up to the plate in order to get the passengers boarded and the plane away on time.

Thursday May 25

Caribbean with Simon Reeve (BBC Two, 4.15pm)

Simon Reeve meets the owner of a traditional wooden house in Barbados who has turned down millions of dollars from luxury property developers, then encounters marijuana growers on the volcanic island of St Vincent hoping that the drug will soon be decriminalised. On the South American mainland, Reeve examines the mismanagement of Venezuela's natural resources, before crossing into Colombia, where he spends time with the Kogi - an indigenous people who have maintained their traditional forest lifestyle. Repeat

St Vincent