Lonely Planet: Six Degrees

LONELY PLANET: SIX DEGREES
TRAVEL

Melbourne is famous for its trams, world-class restaurants and being home to the iconic Aussie soap, Neighbours. But Asha discovers another side to this bustling city.

Presenter Asha Gill hooks up with Andy Mac, the figurehead of Melbourne’s prolific street art movement which has taken art out of the galleries and put it on city walls. Andy celebrates the opening of his latest street exhibition with a block party in one of Melbourne’s signature alleyways and enlists Asha’s help stencilling the club banner of one of Melbourne’s biggest Australian Rules Football clubs. Andy introduces Asha to gender-bending performance artist Mandy Spiegel, who shows Asha how to walk and talk like a man. Asha hooks up with orthodox Jewish punk rocker Bram Presser, who reveals the colourful Jewish heartland of Melbourne. And when Bram persuades Asha to MC his crew of Orthodox-boys-gone-wrong, Asha does it in drag. Bram introduces Asha to Sri Lankan absurdist Shanaka, who runs a restaurant where diners pay according to whim. Shanaka ropes Asha into a surreal existential street protest involving wet suits and a school of fish. At a social game of lawn bowls, Asha meets garrulous food critic Matt Preston who shows Asha the three things that really make Melbourne tick – good coffee, good food and Australian Rules Football.

LONELY PLANET: SIX DEGREES, Saturday 1st December at 6.00pm

LONELY PLANET: SIX DEGREES
TRAVEL

Toby visits Mexico and celebrates the Day of the Dead, ventures into the bullfighting ring and joins the famed theatrical wrestling.
Presenter Toby Amies hooks up with alternative arts guru Pancho Lopez, who exercises his democratic right to eat wherever he damn well pleases by staging elaborate dinners in public places – including a traffic island smack in the middle of a busy Mexico City thoroughfare. Pancho’s friend Kimberley Sumano guides Toby through the historic canals of Xochimilco, where they also gather flowers for the forthcoming Day of the Dead celebrations. Kimberley introduces Toby to peroxide-topped La Lucha Libre hard man Shocker who kits him out in wrestling gear and initiates him into the mysteries of the world’s most theatrical fighting organisation. Kimberly and Toby celebrate Dia de Muertes (Day of the Dead) with traditional Aztec rituals and dancing in Xochimilco. Pancho takes Toby to the counterculture El Chopo market where he meets social activist Daniel Sanchez, who conducts an orchestra playing instruments recycled from the city’s trash. Toby helps documentary filmmaker Andrea Álvarez gather Super 8 footage behind the scenes at a bullfight at the city’s Plaza de Toros before taking to the ring with Shocker in a La Lucha Libre wrestling spectacular.

LONELY PLANET: SIX DEGREES, Saturday 24th November at 6.00pm

LONELY PLANET: SIX DEGREES
TRAVEL

In an effort to save London, Asha counts bats, joins an existential street protest and mudlarks on the River Thames.
Presenter Asha Gill does her bit to save London from submerging six feet underwater, counts the city’s bat population and peeks inside the tomb of Kama Sutra guru Sir Richard Burton with nutty naturalist Bridget Nicholls. Foot-stomping bus conductor Duke Baysee fills a classic red double-decker bus with the blues as he drops Asha at iconic London nightclub Kashpoint. She then spends the night talking turkey with club promoter Matthew Glamorre in the ladies loo. Charged by the chaps at the Civilise the City campaign, Michael Attree teaches Asha how to appreciate the values of a British gent and initiates her into the eccentric world of mudlarking on the River Thames. Asha meets celebrity erotica shop entrepreneur Sam Roddick for an insight into Londoners’ mating-and-dating habits and tries on the alternative crown jewels in the magical glass workshop of Alternative Miss World creator Andrew Logan. Asha and Bridget glam up for the outrageous beauty pageant with London’s demi monde and Mickey Mouse makes a guest appearance in a most unlikely place.

LONELY PLANET: SIX DEGREES, Saturday 17th November at 6.00pm

A frantic, hurly-burly mixture of capitalism and exoticism, Hong Kong has been called the “most thrilling city on the planet.” A British colony from 1898 until 1997, Hong Kong is a vibrant metropolis where European and Asian cultures fuse.

Tonight presenter Toby Amies is in Hong Kong and meets charismatic Hong Kong fashion tracker Davena Mok, who kits him out with the latest gadgets and accessories he needs to thrive in this pulsating town. Social columnist and feng shui expert Nury Vittachi gives Toby an insight into three Hong Kong passions – money, horse racing and feng shui – and invites Toby to a fancy dress cocktail party thrown by the wealthy Harilela clan.

While sourcing a suitably outrageous costume, Toby meets fashion designer William Tang, who invites him to his ancestral village and unveils a family connection to Hong Kong that stretches back nearly 1,000 years. Toby joins William to celebrate the Chung Yueng Festival. Davena introduces Toby to movie producer Bey Logan for a little one-on-one martial arts choreography and an insider’s guide to Hong Kong movies.

Toby hijacks Bey’s storyboard artist to create a martial arts fight sequence with Toby as the hero. Bey introduces Toby to Marine Police Officer Tim Worrell, who has the fastest boat in town – bar none. Tim takes Toby on both a two-man kayaking expedition to the harbour’s tranquil corners and a high-speed night patrol to hunt down smugglers.

Toby meets Hong Kong’s reluctant Dr Doolittle, Sue Burnett, at an animal workshop for troubled pets, where she reveals her capacity to talk to animals. Artist Amy Cheung invites Toby on a photo shoot, capturing workers making paper offerings for the dear departed. Amy and Toby get up to mischief carting a life-size sculpture of a Hong Kong taxi to the city’s busiest taxi rank, before Toby gets his just desserts in a classic rooftop martial arts fight finale.

LONELY PLANET: SIX DEGREES, Saturday 10th November at 6.00pm

With Table Mountain providing a stunning backdrop and the Atlantic Ocean lapping at its winding coastline, Cape Town is one of South Africa’s most beautiful cities. Presenter Asha Gill finds out what makes this multi-cultural city a tourist mecca.

Presenter Asha Gill hooks up with Chris Ntombemhlophe, an African shaman with a direct line to the ancestors. Chris takes Asha trance dancing in the city’s biggest black township and introduces her to outspoken diva Odidi Mfenyana, who’s reclaiming the Afro for Africans.

Radio talk show host Lisa Chait ropes Asha into a raucous spring queen carnival and a house-building project in the townships, where Asha and a group of volunteers attempt to replace a tin shack with a brand new brick house in just five days.

Fellow volunteer Lynette Francis takes Asha to the unique Cape Malay district of Bo-Kaap and throws a halal picnic on the seafront, where thousands of Muslim families gather to witness the new moon that signals the end of Ramadan.

Andre Manuel introduces Asha to the high-energy sound of the Cape Minstrels and the thriving culture of the Cape Flats.

Archaeo-astronomer Dean Liprini changes the way Asha thinks about Cape Town’s most conspicuous resident – Table Mountain.

LONELY PLANET: SIX DEGREES, Saturday 3rd November at 6.00pm on PRIME

Presenter Toby Amies is in Berlin and hooks up with puppeteer Christian Bahrmann, explores his ‘hood and helps put on a puppet show for Berlin kids.

Christian introduces Toby to Natural Born Golfer Thorsten Schilling, who’s taken the distinctly unsexy game of golf and reinvented as an extreme urban sport. Thorsten and Toby play the ultimate game of golf through Berlin’s urban landscape. While practicing his swing, Toby meets surreal performance artist Maren Strack, a one-woman compendium of avant garde Berlin art. Maren initiates Toby into black art of whipcracking, and reveals how she tests the limits of dance by dangling from trees and dancing with hydraulic legs.

Through Maren, Toby meets architect and photographer Benjamin Koehrich, who takes Toby for a bike ride along the route of the former Berlin Wall. He also introduces Toby to the characters living in the no-man’s land left behind. Toby gets a crash course in chess-boxing – a sport that’s the ultimate challenge for the body and the mind – from chess-boxing world champ Lepe the Joker.

Toby gets a taste of the high life when Maren invites him to an elite garden party hosted by suave art patron Jorg Starke. After a spin on his pleasure boat, Jorg proves he’s a true populist by taking Toby cockroach racing with Russian painter Nikolai Makarov in Nikolai’s local Russian bar.

LONELY PLANET: SIX DEGREES, Saturday 27th October at 6.00pm

Presenter Asha Gill arrives in Auckland and meets Misery, a distinctive graffiti artist, experiences the vibrant Polynesian and Maori cultures before heading up the tallest building in the southern hemisphere.

First Asha and Misery spray a campervan – providing Asha with a psychedelic vehicle for her journey and Misery with a unique centre piece for her Exhibition. Misery introduces Asha to Polynesian fashion designer Lindah E, who co-opts Asha into modelling for a photo shoot. Linda reveals that she’s a fa’fa’fine, a Samoan third gender of men who live their life as women. Lindah introduces Asha to action girl, Mags, who teaches her a thing or two about New Zealanders’ passion for sport and adventure.

Joining Mags on a training exercise for the local fire brigade, Asha finds herself hanging from the floodlight tower of Eden Park, Auckland’s home of rugby. As if that weren’t enough, Mags convinces Asha to do some high altitude gardening off the edge of a 60-metre waterfall. Maori chief Joe Hawke takes Asha under his wing as they plant indigenous trees on tribal land. Joe shows her a panoramic view of the city from the top of a volcano and welcomes her to his tribal meeting house with a haka.

Master chef and hunter gatherer, Garth Hokianga, takes Asha on a hunt for indigenous foods, plucking salad from the nearest bush and digging dinner out of the sand. Checking out the latest in Polynesian art, Asha stumbles across Reverend Mua, who works in outreach programmes. She’s more than a little surprised when the good reverend breaks into a freestyle rap preaching the righteous path to Auckland youth.

Not content with the amount of physical action dished out by Mags, Asha finds herself in the company of Ed Dennis, a high-access rope worker who fixes window-cleaning machines for the city’s skyscrapers. They venture to the top of Sky Tower, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, where Asha is coaxed to go down the tower “the quick way”.

LONELY PLANET: SIX DEGREES, Saturday 20th October at 6.00pm

Playful, sassy and street-smart, LONELY PLANET: SIX DEGREES connects its viewers to what makes each city special – the people that live in it.

This 8-part series explores the world’s coolest cities by connecting with the people who live in them. By emphasising the human dimension of travel, each episode moves beyond sightseeing and offers the surest way of being whisked off your feet and fast-tracked to the heart of the city.

Avoiding the well-known tourist attractions, each journey begins with a traveller arriving in a new city with just a single point of contact. From this initial encounter a chain of connectivity is forged across the city as one person leads to another and another.

Meeting six strangers in 60 minutes, the travellers experience the city through the eyes of some of its most colourful and clued-in residents, proving that it’s the people, the lives they lead, and the stories they tell that give a city its soul, rather than just the bricks and mortar.

In tonight’s episode presenter Toby Amies arrives in San Francisco and meets a social activist, environmentalist and an industrial arts guru.

LONELY PLANET: SIX DEGREES, Saturday 13th October at 6.00pm on PRIME