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Writer and photographer Levison Wood takes viewers along on his incredible journey through the Middle East in Arabia with Levison Wood, premiering tonight on KCET.

Arabia with Levison Wood
Arabia with Levison Wood — Photo © Simon Buxton | Blackmane Media, courtesy of KCET

Levison Wood, whom you may know from his documentary series Walking the Nile or his books, including Walking the Americas and Walking the Himalayas, returns to telly on this side of the pond in Arabia with Levison Wood. This outstanding travelogue documentary is as much a heart-pounding nail-biter as any fictional thriller you could ever watch, such is the high level of real-life drama in it.

The five-part series follows Wood on his 5,000-mile, 13-country expedition around the Arabian Peninsula — “a hub of diverse cultures” — a journey that takes him into active war zones as well as to the peaceful homes and hangouts of those he meets. The inveterate explorer introduces us to “the people who make up this remarkable land” as he “navigates the region’s many complexities through the eyes of the locals” while discovering first-hand “what Arabia means today.”

In the first episode, “Battlegrounds,” Wood starts his journey on the Syria-Iraq border in the heartland of the Kurdish Autonomous Region. His guide for this leg of the journey is a Kurdish local, and their protector, if you will, is an armed retired soldier. Another guide greets Wood once he and his crew are cleared to enter federal Iraq, and they spend the night at the safe house of a militia group.

Wood is working his way to Mosul and then to Baghdad — a trip that is rife with perils, from the possibility of being stranded in the middle of nowhere in the desert, to the “threat of an ISIS attack” being ever-present all around. Gunfire and exploding bombs are heard in the distance, and then up close and personal when Wood, trained in the British Army, embeds himself with a group of volunteer militia soldiers as they fight to liberate a town from ISIS, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood.

A stop in Tikrit allows Wood to peer into the literal hole in the ground where Saddam Hussein was captured, before continuing on to Baghdad. It’s here, in the capital of Iraq, that Wood has a chat and shares a cuppa java with a linguist at a popular coffee house, the favorite hangout of his Iraqi guide — a bit of rest and respite before moving on to his next destination in Arabia.

Arabia with Levison Wood premieres on KCET this evening, Tuesday, November 10, at 8 PM PT. New episodes will air on the next four Tuesdays at the same time*.

The episodes will stream simultaneously with the broadcast on YouTube TV, and be available for streaming for seven days following each broadcast at kcet.org/arabiawithlevisonwood. (Note: streaming is geo-restricted to KCET’s Southern California viewing area.)

For viewers in other areas of the country, Arabia with Levison Wood is confirmed for airing on stations in the Idaho Public Television, Montana PBS, and NJTV (New Jersey) regional public TV networks, as well as KERA, KPBS, and KUAT. Check your local listings or contact your local public TV station for broadcast dates and times. To request the program, contact the public TV station that serves your area or American Public Television.

* Subject to change without prior notice.


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Arabia with Levison Wood: Excellent Travelogue Documentary Premieres Tonight on KCET
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