Three Men in a Boat

In the new BBC2 programme Three Men Go To Venice the three comedians — Griff Rhys Jones, Rory McGrath and Dara O Briain — embark on yet another journey, this time they head to the Adriatic along the Dalmation coast and across to Venice, where they’ve been entered into a gondola race on the Grand Canal.

The charm of this programme is that neither the viewer nor those involved in making it need to make any effort. They don’t set out to be funny or informative: they simply feature three middle-aged men messing around with an endearing lack of vanity in the hope that everyone enjoys themselves along the way.

In the first episode of Three Men Go To Venice the trio travelled on a variety of different boats, including a motor yacht built by Marshal Tito to entertain foreign dignitaries (see video below) and a lovely old wooden sailing ship built in 1935 that was once the pride of the Yugoslav Navy.

Griff Rhys Jones did his best to give the enterprise some semblance of drama and purpose; he shined up a mast in the teeth of a gale, and listened to the recent history of the Balkans in Dubrovnik while the other two sat around drinking in an Irish pub. They also played cricket against the MCC – the Munich Cricket Club a team of Munich bankers and tried their hand at Moreska sword dancing.

No one could ever accuse this series of suffering from an excess of ambition.

You can watch the episode 1 of Three Men Go to Venice on BBC iPlayer