12 Jun 2023
Rob Rinder and Rylan set off on a life-changing adventure across Italy in a new series for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer
Culture-loving Rob Rinder joins architecture fan Rylan as they follow in the footsteps of 19th century romantic poet Lord Byron and other Grand Tourists, immersing themselves in the art, culture, bad behaviour and life-changing exploits of historic Brits abroad.
Rob and Rylan’s Grand Tour (w/t) follows Rob and Rylan - presenters, friends, and men who love the finer things in life – as they discover the greatest art treasures in Italy, finding out more about themselves along the way.
Together, they retrace the steps of countless English aristocrats who took the Grand Tour – the original gap year – leaving behind the confines of British society for freedom and discovery abroad. But can the Grand Tour still work its magic today?
Marking the 200th anniversary of Byron’s death, Rob and Rylan will draw from the poet’s extensive poems and letters to guide them, alongside the diaries of others who made the trip.
Rob says: “Italy is so rich in art and culture and I can’t wait to get stuck in, seeing some of the finest things the country has to offer. The Grand Tour is iconic, especially as we’ll be following in the footsteps of some of history’s biggest cultural contributors. While Rylan and I almost certainly have different intentions for our trip, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather do this journey with.”
Rylan says: "When I found out that Rob and I actually get to go travelling around Italy for the Grand Tour, I couldn't have packed my suitcase quicker. We're not going to be your typical Brits abroad though as we properly immerse ourselves in all of Italy's cultural offerings. Rob will be teaching me all about Italian history and art as we follow in the footsteps of the cultural greats, while I show Rob how to dance on bars. This series is going to be eye-opening, interesting and I bet we'll have a laugh or two along the way."
Alistair Pegg, commissioning editor for Arts at the BBC, says: ‘I can’t think of two funnier, warmer, more entertaining travelling companions for a trip through the glories of the Grand Tour than Rob and Rylan. Viewers are going to get a totally new perspective on some of the wonders of Italian art and culture in their hands, and I’m looking forward to the journey with them.’
Beginning their journey in Venice, Rob and Rylan will explore the artistic masterpieces of the city, from Tintoretto to Canaletto – as well as discovering how gay men in the eighteenth century found freedom at the city’s famous Carnival. They’ll also get their hands dirty learning Venetian painting techniques and glass blowing.
In Florence, they’ll drink in the extraordinary sights of the cradle of the Renaissance, from the heights of the Duomo to the beauty of Botticelli’s Venus, and of course David’s chiselled abs.
Their last stop is Rome, the centerpiece of the original Grand Tour and the beating heart of classical civilization. Here, Rob and Rylan will explore staggering classical ruins, recreate dramatic Baroque masterpieces and channel their inner operatic divas at a rooftop performance.
At every stage, Rob and Rylan will be uncovering the reality of what it meant to be a Grand Tourist, from trying on the flamboyant looks of the ‘macaronis’ (the nickname for Englishmen who adopted a flamboyant Italian wardrobe), to fencing, dancing and maybe even a spot of romancing just as they did in the eighteenth century…
Rob and Rylan’s Grand Tour (w/t) 3x60 is being made by Rex, Part of Zinc Media Group. Executive Producers are Lana Salah and Dominque Walker and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Alistair Pegg, Commissioning Editor, BBC Arts