Joanna Lumley’s Spice Trail Adventure review round-up: an ‘uncynical’ celebrity travelogue

“As most of us are unlikely to be invited on holiday with Joanna Lumley any time soon, let us enjoy the next best thing,” said Anita Singh in The Daily Telegraph: an ITV series in which she travels through Indonesia, Madagascar, India, Jordan and Zanzibar, tracing the history of the spice trade.

“Celebrity travelogues are the scourge of television, but I will always make an exception for Lumley”, whose enthusiasm and manners never flag. “Look at this, a dear little cabin with my own kettle,” she beams aboard an unlovely ferry from an Indonesian port.

The bathroom, she adds, has “one of those nice buckets where you wash your bottom with a pipe”. Most stars would recoil in horror, but Lumley sighs contentedly: “Couldn’t be better.” She has “reasons to be cheerful”, of course – she’s on an all-expenses-paid trip – but her approach to her televised travels feels refreshingly “uncynical”.

Lumley floats around looking lovely in linen, smiles charmingly and says “golly” a lot, said Ben Dowell in The Times. All this makes for very “soothing television”, but you do find yourself wondering if there could be a bit more insight.

Lumley is nothing if not game, said Lucy Mangan in The Guardian, and the producers are clearly aware that there is something a bit tricky about a “posh, white lady born in India under the Raj” presenting a tour of Britain’s former colonies: the historical controversies are alluded to. But the overall effect is still uneasy. Perhaps this kind of travelogue has just had its day.

Where to watch: ITVX