Across nine time zones and through all extremes of weather, the resourceful Jonathan Dimbleby makes an epic journey from one end of Russia to the other, disproving clichÃ©s and revelling in the unpredictable.
This is televisionâ€™s first comprehensive journey through the vast and varied landscapes of Russia. It is an enormous land in which you can travel half way around the globe without crossing another frontier.
From outside, Russia is both forbidding and enticing. Inside it becomes an exhilarating adventure.
Look through one window and you see an authoritarian regime trying to modernise itself into an oil-rich economy. Look through another and you see an exuberant population enjoying new opportunities while struggling with old problems.
As he travels, Dimbleby seeks out the people of this strange and extraordinary land.
From the Arctic Circle where the summer sun never sets to the subzero wastes of Siberia, from white witches to hirsute masseurs, from oil wells to shamans, Dimblebyâ€™s journey by boat, train, truck and foot is heart-warming, entertaining and compelling.
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The symbol of Russian patriotism is the River Volga which runs from above Moscow through the heart of Russia to the Caspian Sea. Not far from the port of Astrakhan is a tiny village that was once the great capital of the Golden Horde.
He arrives there in February when the biting wind chills you to the bone, and is astonished to find how little remains of the western capital of Genghiz Khan's massive empire.
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Far from Moscow
Jonathan follows one of the Red Cross teams struggling to manage the AIDS epidemic in Irkutsk and visits Birobidzhan, arguably one of the strangest places in Russia - a Jewish homeland created by Stalin at the furthest end of his empire.
Not many Jews have survived there, but the people - Jewish or not - are proud of their unusual heritage. Jonathan finds Hanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, being jointly celebrated by the rabbi and the mayor.
Finally he comes to his last stop: Vladivostok. Jonathan meets some students in a cafÃ©. This far from Moscow, will they feel any different from the chic young people he met in St Petersburg some ten thousand miles ago?
Not really. They want a strong Russia before they want a democratic one. As he looks out over the Pacific, Jonathan reflects on how charming and how different the Russians are from us.