Adventurer and journalist Simon Reeve heads to Vietnam to uncover the stories behind the nation's morning pick-me-up. While we drink millions of cups of the stuff each week, how many of us know where our coffee actually comes from? The surprising answer is that it is not Brazil, Columbia or Jamaica, but Vietnam. Eighty per cent of the coffee we drink in Britain isn't posh cappuccinos or lattes but instant coffee and Vietnam is the biggest supplier. From Hanoi in the north, Simon follows the coffee trail into the remote central highlands where he meets the people who grow, pick and pack our coffee. Millions of small scale famers, each working two or three acres, produce most of the coffee beans that go into well known instant coffee brands. Thirty years ago Vietnam only produced a tiny proportion of the world's coffee, but after the end of the Vietnam war there was a widescale plan to become a coffee growing nation and Vietnam is now the second biggest in the world. It has provided employment for millions, making some very rich indeed, and Simon meets Vietnam's biggest coffee billionaire. But Simon learns that their rapid success has come at a cost to both the local people and the environment.
On the last leg of his journey across the South American country, Michael explores the Brazilian south, where he is surprised by the rich diversity of European and Asian influences. Along the way he meets Dom Joao de Orleans e Braganca, second in line of succession to Brazil's defunct throne, goes flying with a man who has made a fortune out of rubbish and meets rap star Criolo, who believes social equality is a distant dream for most of his countrymen. Travelling farther south to Blumenau, the former Python's views on what makes a typical Brazilian are challenged when he finds German speakers and Bavarian dancers, before he catches piranha for sushi and helps cowboys treat a calf attacked by a jaguar
Joanna witnesses religious ceremonies in temples, learns how scientists are enabling people in tea plantations to live alongside wild elephants and with the help of computers is turned into a multi-limbed Indian goddess. In Kolkata, Joanna takes to the streets at night with a local guide and meets members of India's transgender community. Finally she journeys high into the Himalayas to visit Gangtok in Sikkim, where her mother lived as a child.
In this episode Martin travels to the Tiwi Islands, swims with a whale shark, and visits the Houtman Abrolhos, a string of over 100 little islands. Martin Clunes also samples life on Rottnest Island, which has long been a playground retreat for mainland visitors.
The actress heads to the island of Shikoku hoping to gain a better understanding of Japanese Buddhism. She then takes a bullet train to another island - Kyushu - where she finds the Henn Na Hotel, the world's first robot hotel. At Nagasaki, she visits Shiroyama Elementary school, one of the only buildings to survive the atomic bomb dropped on the city in 1945. Joanna then travels to Sakurajima, one of the country's most active volcanoes, before heading to the islands of Okinawa where one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War was fought.
Joanna meets the Maharaja of Dungarpur, who shows her around his lakeside palace. In stark contrast, Joanna visits a Dalit community - considered to be India's lowest caste - in Gujarat, and hears of the everyday discrimination these people experience under India's still deeply entrenched 3,000-year-old caste system. She later joins in a Hindu house warming ceremony, where a cow and calf are brought into the new house for luck. Braving the roads of Mumbai, Joanna takes a ride in the city's only all-female taxi company and visits the Times of India, where her uncle was editor of the paper in the 1930s and 40s. She then overcomes her vertigo to explore the World One Tower, soon to be Mumbai's tallest luxury residential building.
As Ray travels across land and by canoe, he tells the story of one of the greatest companies the world has ever known - the Hudson's Bay Company that opened up Canada. Ray discovers how those early traders were pioneers who laid the foundations of the modern Canadian state. He also demonstrates local crafts and bushcraft skills that bring the landscape to life.