The series Flying to the Ends of the Earth is fronted by 2012 Paralympics presenter Arthur Williams. A former royal marine paralysed in a car accident in his early 20s, Williams learned to fly (“Why would you let a small thing like not being able to feel two-thirds of your body get in the way?”), and was shown travelling by small plane to some of the most isolated regions of the globe. Did I say “plane”? These were such worryingly flimsy structures that they could have been made of graph paper by a bored pupil in the back of a year 10 geometry class.
If your nerves could cope, it was fascinating to watch Williams plane-hopping around assorted South Pacific islands – one devastated by a cyclone, another turned into a luxurious holiday resort costing $2,600 a night, and so on. Among the people Williams met were a village elder-cum -volcano-whisperer (seen attempting to talk the volatile Mount Yasur out of erupting), and a flying bush doctor who extracted a tooth while the whole village avidly watched as though it were a dental-themed West End show.
There was a difficult moment when a village woman told Williams that she could cure his paralysis. (“Intense,” he admitted softly). However, Williams is such an engaging, upbeat presenter that half the time you forget he’s paralysed. It’s a sharp reminder to see his wheelchair dragging laboriously through soil or sand.