Stephen Fry in Central America

ITV and BBC Worldwide series. August - September 2014

 

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Having travelled through all fifty states of America in a black cab in Stephen Fry in America [October-November 2008], Stephen is back West to explore the vibrant culture and characters of Central America. In this four-part series, follow Stephen’s big yellow school bus as he journeys from Mexico to the border of South America, searching out the  stories to be told in each of the eight countries he explores along the way.

In episode One, Stephen is introduced to his beloved bus, the charming but not-so-trusty steed for the following months-long journey. Entering Mexico, he sees local cowboys before experiencing the enduring patriotism of the he revolutionary Pancho Villa. Boarding the El Chepe train he heads into the Copper Canyon, to take one of the longest zip wire rides in the world down to where the Tamahumara people live.In Real de Catorce  Stephen joins in a pointy-booted techno tribal dance group, but managing to avoid taking hallucinogenic peyote cactus with a Huichol shaman. NExt he takes to the air ito witness the vast ruins of Teotihuacan, and explores the temple and beliefs surrounding of the god Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent. After a spot of acting in a Mexican soap [telenovela], it’s smashing up the papier mache piñata that allows him to let off steam in truly Mexican fashion. He attends an emotionally charged demonstration in the capital before trekking to Michoacan to witness the extraordinary migration of Monarch butterflies. Finally he heads to Acapulco, where he meets cliff divers  and marvels at their extraordinary bravery.

In episode Two, Stephen visits Belize meeting injured manatees, a reformed drug addict living on an island, and the Garifuna people. He heads to Guatemala for an ancient ceremony, learns to weave in Chajul, witnesses the exhumation of those who ‘disappeared’ during the civil war, and talks to an ex Miss Guatemala. Night patrol with a heart surgeon and a visit to the dump in Guatemala City are in stark contrast to time spent with Central America’s only billionaire. In Antigua he picks coffee and learns that creativity is Guatemala’s unique selling point.

In episode Three, he visits two of the continent’s most dangerous countries, El Salvador and Honduras, and one of the ‘safest’, Nicaragua. He tries his hand at surfing, meets a multimillionaire, a real life Sweeney Todd in prison, tastes a new breed of bananas, engages with Sandinista revolutionaries and finally learns to dance the Maypole. In Costa Rica, Stephen visits the selva, meeting 4 million leaf cutter ants, poison dart frogs, the smallest bat in the world, and a baby sloth. Ascending volcanoes, descending rivers and experiencing the passion of a football match in San Jose, he sees why Costa Rica has succeeded.Crossing into Panama he visits the Guna people to witness the nighttime arrival of giant leatherback turtles coming ashore to lay eggs. Taking the train to Panama City he learns how to dredge the canal before bidding farewell to his school bus.

In Costa Rica for the fourth and final episode, Stephen visits the selva, meeting 4 million leaf cutter ants, poison dart frogs, the smallest bat in the world, and a baby sloth. Ascending volcanoes, descending rivers and experiencing the passion of a football match in San Jose, he sees why Costa Rica has succeeded.Crossing into Panama he visits the Guna people to witness the nighttime arrival of giant leatherback turtles coming ashore to lay eggs. Taking the train to Panama City he learns how to dredge the canal before bidding farewell to his school bus.

Directed by J. P Davidson

Starring Stepehn Fry

Produced by Gina Carter