Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

International Treasure; as Stephen Fry Embarks on an American Odyssey, We Examine the Reasons He's So Beloved at Home PICK OF THE WEEK STEPHEN FRY IN CENTRAL AMERICA (ITV, Thursday, 9pm)

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

International Treasure; as Stephen Fry Embarks on an American Odyssey, We Examine the Reasons He's So Beloved at Home PICK OF THE WEEK STEPHEN FRY IN CENTRAL AMERICA (ITV, Thursday, 9pm)

Article excerpt

S DREAM travel companions go, Stephen Fry takes some beating.

ACurious, clever and kind, many of us have a huge soft spot for this broadcaster who, among other things, has been hailed 'the nation's most wanted celebrity best friend', our 'dream train companion' and 'the famous person we most want to go to a pub with'.

So it feels fitting that the ideal holiday companion, with his wit and warmth, should be seen hotfooting it around on foreign soil again, for his latest TV offering.

Called Stephen Fry In Central America, the series will see the actor, writer, comedian and presenter set off to discover more about some of the oldest civilisations on the planet.

As well as journeying through Mexico and the Central American Isthmus to the Pan-American border with South America, the expedition will see him take a white-knuckle ride on a zip wire, attend a donkey pageant and meet inmates at a women's prison in Tegucigalpa, Honduras' largest city.

"Obviously, I looked the areas up and got some books, but the one thing you can't get from books and the internet is a sense of the people," explains 57-year-old Stephen of preparing for the journey.

"I always say there are some things that tell you more about a country than anything else, and they are the music, the food and the humour," adds the London-born star, who studied English literature at Cambridge, where he joined the famous Cambridge Footlights drama club, along with long-time collaborator Hugh Laurie. "And Central America is pretty rich in all of those things."

And Stephen himself is rich in qualities that make him such a hit with fans. Before his latest series begins, we explore some of those traits a little closer...

BOXING CLEVER ACCUSATIONS that culture is being 'dumbed down' are rife, with reality TV, the internet and text speak often taking the blame for this social ill. And yet, even if money and quick fame are seemingly celebrated, and even if our collective grey matter is turning to mush, it's heartening to see Stephen, a Cambridge graduate and self-confessed "tech geek", celebrated simply for being clever.

CLASS ACT DESPITE having numerous writing, radio and presenting commitments, Stephen - who married Elliott Spencer earlier this year - still finds the time to act. …

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