10 September, Italy – ‘All Over The Place – Europe’

When I was at school we seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time studying Roman roads. Whenever I had one pointed out to me by my Mum on a car journey they were always a bit of a let down, tarmaced over, with only their straightness betraying a hint that they were different from any other road.

So when we set out bright and early to record a song about a road called the Appian Way in the style of Abba’s ‘Mama Mia’, called ‘Via Via’ (it’s Latin for road), I wasn’t overly expectant. But the Appian Way is the Roman road I’ve been searching for all these years. Once stretching all the way down to the tip of Southern Italy, it was constructed with huge slabs of hardened lava, and several sections of it still remain. It looks like it was built a few months ago, with only the grooves left from hundreds of years of chariot use betraying its age. It’s a nightmare to walk across in platform shoes though.

For the end of the song we also paid a visit to Aqua Claudia, an insanely well built aqueduct, its huge stone arches still standing strong after 2000 years. To think that it was built around the time of Jesus’ birth made my brain melt a bit.

After climbing out of my last female costume of the series (‘All Over The Place’ does enjoy dressing me up as a woman. Maybe I’m destined to be a pantomime dame…) our drivers took us up to a viewpoint over the city next to a beautiful marble fountain where a a bright red Ferrari and a Vespa were waiting for us. Unfortunately this wasn’t the BBC’s way of saying thanks for all my hard work over the last 3 months. We had to shoot the final scene of one of our end of series compilation shows. We set it up so that it looked like I was about to drive the Ferrari as I said goodbye, then I pootled off on the scooter next to it. The Vespa owner was so worried I was going to damage his pride and joy that he stood in front of it as I drove off and I nearly ran him over.

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