At the centre of this great sea, and surrounded by crystal clear waters, is Simon's first stop, the beautiful island of Malta. Driven by a surge of tourists, modern-day Malta is booming. But beneath the picture-postcard image lies a country accused of being a haven for money laundering and organised crime, where journalists can be murdered by car bombs. When Simon takes a ferry to his next destination, Calabria in southern Italy, he discovers a region in the grip of Europe's most powerful mafia, the 'Ndrangheta. With rare access to police and customs investigators, Simon follows an armed convoy carrying a ton of seized cocaine, joins a stakeout of a high-level suspect, and crawls through a huge underground warren of tunnels and bunkers built by fugitive mafia bosses. Travelling east along the southern tip of mainland Italy, Simon visits a turtle conservation centre, meeting Raoul, a loggerhead turtle rescued after swallowing huge quantities of plastic, a massive and increasing threat to Mediterranean wildlife. Simon helps release him back into the sea. Taking the overnight ferry from the heel of Italy, Simon arrives in one of the least-known but most beautiful corners of the Mediterranean, Albania. Under communist rule, Albania was isolated and shut off from most of the world. In a country now hoping for EU membership, Simon discovers an ancient culture of vendetta, where if an adult commits a crime, a child can be killed in revenge. Simon ends the first leg of his journey at a spectacular wildlife reserve where bird life is now recovering following the country's groundbreaking ban on hunting.
Ray follows in the footsteps of an unsung British hero who helped put modern Canada on the map. John Rae from Scotland was the first great Arctic explorer and came to be regarded as the foremost authority on First Nation methods of Arctic survival and travel. Ray Mears follows the story of how John Rae found the Northwest Passage - the Holy Grail of 19th-century exploration. Yet this man, who should have been a hero of his day, was vilified by the British establishment. Ray believes it's time to put the record straight.
In this first episode, Simon travels to Burma to find out the roots of this crisis - as well as heading to Bangladesh to witness the drama that is still unfolding. He begins his journey in the biggest city in the country, Yangon, and drives north into Burma's Buddhist heartlands and the stunning ancient capital of Bagan - a sight that rivals the great wonders of the world. He meets the monks who supported the people through the darkest days of dictatorship. And he is granted an audience with some of the most contentious figures in the country - ultranationalist monks preaching hate against the country's Muslim Rohingya. Stopped from visiting the scene of the military crackdown against the Rohingya, Simon travels to Bangladesh to meet the refugees traumatised by the violence
Simon's adventure starts in the magnificent 'red centre' of the continent and onwards through South Australia, via the extraordinary Indian Pacific Railway until he reaches the west coast city of Perth. On the way, he joins an Aussie rancher in the parched outback and takes part in a spectacular camel round-up. This mad adventure, involving specially adapted off-road vehicles and a chopper, is part of an ongoing effort to stop the damaging spread of up to a million feral camels across the country. Finally in Perth, Simon discovers a full scale British invasion. Working in a mine or driving a lorry can bring a salary of a hundred thousand pounds a year, as evidenced when Simon meets a former bin man from hull who is now living the dream, with a beautiful house in the sun, private pool and his very own boat.