Anh Does Britain and Discovers Toe Wrestling, a Beatles Cover Band and the Keeper of Stonehenge

23 July 2013

As the world's attention is firmly focused on the royal birth in London, it's timely that popular comedian Anh Do decided to head across to Blighty to explore modern Britain. The result is a two part television series - the first episode will be broadcast tonight on Channel 7 - that covers Anh's adventures in the sceptred isle.

 Anh in front of Buckingham Palace

"Anh Does Britain is a celebration of the wonderful sense of humour of the British people. Brits are great at seeing the funny side of things and I found them to be much more optimistic than the 'whinging Pom' stereotype had led me to expect. I set out to look for the more unique aspects of Britain, to delve deeper than your usual travel show and get the really fascinating stories that are beneath the surface," said Anh.

"So I didn't just visit Stonehenge; I met a guy who considers himself the, 'keeper of Stonehenge,' - an ex-soldier who believes he is the re-incarnation of King Arthur and thus has changed his named by deed poll to King Arthur. He fought his way through the High Court to have the right to wear a crown on his passport. He and the Queen are the only two people in Britain allowed to wear a crown on their ID."

Anh's recent travels follow on the back of his successful Vietnamese expedition, which was broadcast last year as Anh Does Vietnam. Indeed the affable presenter was born in Vietnam and came to Australia with his family in 1980 as refugees. Anh documented the journey in his autobiography, The Happiest Refugee, which was lauded as the 2011 Australian Book Of The Year.

While Anh Does Vietnam was a relatively personal experience, Anh's British outing showcases his versatile comedic talents.

"I asked a Beatles cover band if I could be Ringo seeing as I also have a massive nose. They pointed out that my nose is large in width, whereas Ringo's is big in length, but they still let me play two songs on the very stage where the original fab four started playing together all those years ago," said Anh.

"I think Brits and Aussies are very much alike. I think Brits with better weather would turn into Aussies. We both like to take the mickey out of ourselves and we both like to have a beer and a laugh. I met the world champion at 'Toe Wrestling.' This is a pub sport where two guys lock big toes and try to pin the other guy's foot down. It's a great sport. The only hazard is the moment when 50 drunk Poms all take their shoes and socks off in a confined space."

 Anh in a Peel Car

All jokes aside, Anh was humbled by the sights he saw in Britain - especially the opportunity of visiting significant historical locations and places that he had read about as a child.

"It was my first time and I fell in love with the place. I knew Britain had a long and fascinating history, but I was nonetheless staggered by the 'drama' of it all. I visited a battlefield where a hunchback king was dragged from his horse and slain in front of thousands of onlookers. I visited mountains, castles and villages that had inspired Shakespeare, Tolkien and Charles Dickens. It was like taking a journey through all the favourite books in my childhood," said Anh.

"Britain just has such a dramatic past and if you like history, it's worth spending a couple of hours (even on the plane) to read up on the different castles and dynasties and wars. This will definitely enrich your experience when you arrive."

It was particularly difficult for Anh to nominate the most memorable place he visited for the show but when pressed he suggested the picturesque town of Llangollen in north-east Wales; Anh described the scenery as looking just like a children's fairytale.  In the region there's the ruined castle of Dinas Bran and the Pontcysyllte aqueduct is a marvel of engineering. However it's best to explore the countryside on foot or hire a canoe and row down the River Dee.

Away from his work obligations, Anh's favourite holiday destination is Tasmania.

"Tasmania offers lazy drives through spectacular scenery combined with wineries, seafood right out of the ocean and of course the quite magical Cradle Mountain."

Anh Does Britain premieres Tuesday July 23 at 7.30pm on Seven and concludes Sunday August 4 at 7.30pm.

Lyndon Barnett

Guided by curiosity and a sense of adventure, Lyndon travelled independently to 69 countries on six continents. As such, travel is Lyndon's only addiction. He enjoys with equal measure - scaling the peaks of a South American mountain at altitude, attending opera in a European Opera House or hunting for a bargain in an Asian market.