Amid glimpses of possible progress in U.S.-North Korea relations, National Geographic has picked up U.S. rights to Monty Python star Michael Palin’s documentary special shot inside the secretive Asian country.
Nat Geo plans to air “North Korea From the Inside With Michael Palin” in the U.S. on Sunday. The two-hour special will also play on Nat Geo’s international channels.
Nat Geo scooped the special from ITN Productions, which made the revealing two-hour documentary for Viacom’s U.K. network Channel 5. In Britain, the show is running in two one-hour installments under the title “Michael Palin in North Korea,” with the second part scheduled to air Thursday. The first episode was Channel 5’s top-rated program of the year, and highest-rated since 2014 aside from “Big Brother.”
Palin is a seasoned traveler and has made numerous travelogues for British TV. The first part of his North Korea show, which he described as as “the most revealing journey of my life,” was well-reviewed in the U.K. In the show he travels more than 1,300 miles across the enigmatic nation meeting North Koreans from all walks of life.
Filming coincided with the meeting of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, giving Palin a view of the historic event through the eyes of local residents.
“To visit North Korea was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” Palin said. “For somewhere that is so often in the forefront of the news, it remains a complete mystery to most of us. That we were able to travel across the country and get some sense of everyday life was enormously exciting.”
Will Smith, head of factual for ITN Productions, said the show took two years to come to fruition. “Given the constantly shifting political landscape between North Korea and the rest of the world, this insight into life for ordinary people in what is often dubbed a ‘hermit kingdom’ could not be more relevant,” he said.