Two-hour canal journey on a barge? An instant BBC TV hit

Half a million tune in to watch real-time experimental show All Aboard!

Updated: 
For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of a scene from a two-hour BBC show featuring nothing more than a journey down a canal which has proved an unlikely hit with viewers. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday April 8, 2015. All Aboard! The Canal Trip was filmed in real time and contained no commentary, music or presenter and nothing more exciting than passing boats, changing scenery and the occasional passer-by in the distance walking along the towpath. See PA story SHOWBIZ Canal. Photo credit should read: BBC/PA WireNOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge only for the purpose of publicising or reporting on current BBC programming, personnel or other BBC output or activity within 21 days of issue. Any use after that time MUST be cleared through BBC Picture Publicity. Please credit the image to the BBC and any named photographer or independent programme maker, as described in the caption.

A two-hour BBC show featuring nothing more than a journey down a canal has proved an unlikely hit with viewers.

All Aboard! The Canal Trip was filmed in real time and contained no commentary, music or presenter and nothing more exciting than passing boats, changing scenery and the occasional passer-by in the distance walking along the towpath.

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of a scene from a two-hour BBC show featuring nothing more than a journey down a canal which has proved an unlikely hit with viewers. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday May 6, 2015. All Aboard! The Canal Trip was filmed in real time and contained no commentary, music or presenter and nothing more exciting than passing boats, changing scenery and the occasional passer-by in the distance walking along the towpath. See PA story SHOWBIZ Canal. Photo credit should read: BBC/PA WireNOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge only for the purpose of publicising or reporting on current BBC programming, personnel or other BBC output or activity within 21 days of issue. Any use after that time MUST be cleared through BBC Picture Publicity. Please credit the image to the BBC and any named photographer or independent programme maker, as described in the caption.

But half a million viewers were mesmerised by the experiment in slow TV - filmed with a camera strapped to the front of the barge - down one of Britain's historic waterways, the Kennet and Avon Canal which runs between Reading and Bristol.

The show - in which the only sounds were birdsong, dogs barking, rippling water and the chugging of the engine - fetched 506,000 viewers and a peak of 599,000, above the BBC4 slot average of 340,000.
It was also deemed a success with viewers on Twitter.

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of a scene from a two-hour BBC show featuring nothing more than a journey down a canal which has proved an unlikely hit with viewers. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday April 8, 2015. All Aboard! The Canal Trip was filmed in real time and contained no commentary, music or presenter and nothing more exciting than passing boats, changing scenery and the occasional passer-by in the distance walking along the towpath. See PA story SHOWBIZ Canal. Photo credit should read: BBC/PA WireNOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge only for the purpose of publicising or reporting on current BBC programming, personnel or other BBC output or activity within 21 days of issue. Any use after that time MUST be cleared through BBC Picture Publicity. Please credit the image to the BBC and any named photographer or independent programme maker, as described in the caption.


Stephen Clark wrote: "Initially very sceptical about thisAll Aboard malarkey on BBC Four but this is surprisingly compelling... CYCLIST!"

John M wrote: "I put it on by mistake an hour and a half ago. It's still on."

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of a scene from a two-hour BBC show featuring nothing more than a journey down a canal which has proved an unlikely hit with viewers. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday April 8, 2015. All Aboard! The Canal Trip was filmed in real time and contained no commentary, music or presenter and nothing more exciting than passing boats, changing scenery and the occasional passer-by in the distance walking along the towpath. See PA story SHOWBIZ Canal. Photo credit should read: BBC/PA WireNOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge only for the purpose of publicising or reporting on current BBC programming, personnel or other BBC output or activity within 21 days of issue. Any use after that time MUST be cleared through BBC Picture Publicity. Please credit the image to the BBC and any named photographer or independent programme maker, as described in the caption.

Paul Waller joked: "BBC4 Canal trip. Still no sign of the upturned shopping trolley."

Steve Edwards wrote: "All Aboard! The Canal Trip on at prime time against Champions League football - the work of a TV scheduling genius ... it's mesmerising!"

Susan Lomax wrote: "Thank you for All Aboard ... I feel soooo relaxed ... Can you do a daily programme?"

Andy Stewart wrote: "Beguiling filmmaking. Heroic even."

@robinsprouts said: "Two hours uninterrupted trip on a canal barge - has actually blown my mind."

Danielle Carpanen wrote: "So hypnotic I fear I'm being primed for an alien abduction."

Jane Lawrence wrote: "Best TV in ages" while @lucywaitt1 deemed it "TV yoga".

Tuesday night's programme, which switched from colour to black and white, featured facts about canals presented in text on the surface of the water.

The film was part of the BBC Four Goes Slow series, a selection of "unrushed programmes giving audiences the chance to sit back, unwind and watch some very unhurried television".

Its executive producer Clare Paterson previously admitted that some people will "hate" the programme and find it "boring" but added that canals are "incredibly British and important to our history and landscape."

Britain's best hidden beaches

Britain's best hidden beaches


Related articles

Video: Shark spotted in Essex river

Britain's best known rivers 'shockingly contaminated'

Abandoned places in Britain

Abandoned places in Britain



Danube River Cruise Timelapse


Floating hotels around the world

Floating hotels around the world