Pilgrimage: The Road to Rome cast: full line-up walking the epic route on BBC Two
To be a pilgrim: eight stars are going to ponder on religious matters while trekking a 1000km pilgrimage across the Alps
By Laura Martin for iNews
19 APR 2019
We’re all told not to chat about politics or religion around the dinner table, but what if you’re on a walking holiday to one of the biggest religious cities of the world?
That’s the premise for Pilgrimage: The Road to Rome, which features eight celebrities with differing beliefs and faiths who have agreed to put on their rucksacks and walking boots to walk 1,000km in 15 days, as part of the the Via Francigena pilgrimage route.
So how will all these larger-than-life characters get on with the gruelling trek across the Alps – and will there be any fallouts about deontological ethics en route?
When is it on TV?
Pilgrimage: The Road to Rome started on Friday 5 April at 9pm and continues tonight at the same time.
Who are the celeb pilgrims?
Actors Les Dennis and Lesley Joseph, professional dancer Brendan Cole, comedians Stephen K Amos and Katy Brand, Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford, Irish Eurovision Song contest winner Dana, and television presenter Mehreen Baig will live as modern day pilgrims.
They’ll stay in basic hostels, sleep in shared dorms, and follow a largely untrodden route, which is currently in the throes of revival.
What’s their route and will they be walking all 1,000km of the section?
The group will be walking the Italian section of the ancient 2,000km Via Francigena, which starts in Canterbury and finishes in Rome.
The Via is based on a journey taken to Rome in 990AD by Archbishop Sigeric of Canterbury, which crosses the Alps at 2,500m and goes over the Great St Bernard Pass.
Like Napoleon, his 40,000-strong army and the pilgrims before them, the group also have to make their way up the challenging mountain path.
As they have just two weeks to do half of the route, they will start their pilgrimage in the Alps – just before the Swiss-Italian border – and will walk sections of the Via. When they reach the final 100km, they will have to walk every step of the way.
What happens in the first episode?
In the first episode, the intrepid eight arrive in Martigny, Switzerland and find out for the first time who will be sharing their pilgrim adventure. They make their way by mountain train to the start of their pilgrimage in Orsieres, high up in the Swiss Alps.
Despite Greg’s help, the unfit and inexperienced members of the group – Dana (a practising Catholic), Lesley (Jewish, but doesn’t strictly follow her faith) and Katy (who was an evangelical Christian in her teens) – are defeated by the severity of the climb.
Those who make it to the top can only admire how pilgrims before them battled their way through Death Valley, especially in the winter months when the pass is covered by 15 metres of snow.
Lesley, Dana and Katy meet the famous St Bernard dogs, which for centuries helped monks who lived in the monastery at the pass, to rescue stranded and dying pilgrims.
Late that afternoon, they cross into Italy and reach their hostel. The next day, the group make an extraordinary find in a church’s cleaning cupboard.
The three-part series continues every Friday at 9pm on BBC Two.