Islands Of Britain

LIVING CHANNEL – Sundays from 12 June, 8.30pm

It is a startling fact that the UK is made up of about 6,000 different islands, and this landmark series sets out to explore the most fascinating yet unfamiliar ones. Martin Clunes visits some of these beautiful but remote communities, shedding new light on their history, culture, flora and fauna and guides viewers through amazing landscapes and seascapes, meeting colourful locals along the way. The series showcases all sorts of island dwellers – from people who live off the land, to the mega rich who use their islands to escape the paparazzi. Martin also discovers some remarkable stories of British folklore, with tales of smugglers, pirates, wizards and saints.

7:30pm Sunday, January 23 on TV One

7:30pm Sunday, January 23 on TV One

Comic actor Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) sets off on a journey through hidden Britain, exploring some of the 1000 or so islands around the coast of the UK.

During the course of the three-part series, he travels from the country’s far northern oceans, to wild western waters, and to the southerly seas. Martin meets the people who live on the islands of Britain, shares their experiences and finds out what it’s really like to wake up each day surrounded by water.

As Clune begins his journey around the islands, he ponders, “I wonder if islanders are much the same as the rest of us, or have they developed different ways of coping with the isolation of island life?”

In the first programme he goes to the remote Scottish Islands, at the very top of the country, Clune says, ” Muckle Flugga is a lighthouse rock. Used to manned, but now it’s unmanned. That is the most northerly tip of the British Isles.”

“In fact, Robert Louis Stevenson drew inspiration for his book Treasure Island from this area,” Clunes continues.

The actor meets a man called Stuart Hill who lives on one of the most desolate islands, “it’s one thing to be posted to a far-flung island for work, but nearby one man has chosen to live alone on an island the size of a football pitch.”

“Until recently, Forvik was deserted. Now it’s occupied by just one man, Stuart Hill, who’s caused a global stir by declaring his island independent from Britain. Although Forvik is tiny, Stuart is encouraging the rest of the Shetlands to follow his lead and breakaway from the UK,” explains Clunes.

Asked what it means to declare independent from the UK, Hill responds, “it means I have a direct relationship with the Crown, but not with the Government. I recognise the Queen, but I don’t recognise the UK Government or the EU.”

Clunes is amazed at the lengths that Hill plans to go to, “Stuart is so convinced of Forvik’s sovereignty that he plans to mint his own currency. He’s already flying his own flag. To whip up public support, Stuart has even started his own website offering honorary citizenship and land sales.”

At the end of his first journey, Clunes is impressed by what he’s seen, “I think if I’ve learned anything it’s that life here can be extremely hard, and it isn’t for everyone. But I really have seen some incredible things, unique things. But above all, the thing that unites all these islands is the most amazing sense of community that I’ve never seen on the mainland; its as if the circle of the coast concentrates it and focuses it. And I think for the people who live here and who love it, it really is their kind of paradise.”