Pilgrimage: The Road to Rome – BBC2

Eight celebrities including Les Dennis and Stephen K Amos don walking boots to tackle a 1,000km pilgrimage to Rome, where a private audience with the Pope awaits

Eight celebrities including Les Dennis and Stephen K Amos don walking boots to tackle a 1,000km pilgrimage to Rome, where a private audience with the Pope awaits

Les Dennis, Lesley Joseph, former Strictly pro Brendan Cole, comedians Stephen K Amos and Katy Brand, and Olympian Greg Rutherford are among the famous faces with differing faiths who are donning their walking boots and backpacks for this new three-part series.

They’re hiking along a gruelling pilgrim’s way across the Swiss Alps to St Peter’s Square, Rome, where the reward for their efforts will be a private audience with the Pope.

But first they must cross the 2,500m high Great St Bernard Pass in Switzerland, and learn to cope with the lack of sleep thanks to 15 nights in communal dormitories, all while wrestling with their own religious beliefs.

Martigny train station with Les Dennis, Lesley Joseph, Stephen K Amos, Dana Scallon, Brendan Cole, Katie Brand, Mehreen Baig and Greg Rutherford

Here Lesley, 73, 
and Les, 64, tell TV Times more about their very special trek…

What made you want to take part?

Les: My mum was Catholic, my dad didn’t believe, and I was raised and baptised as Church of England, so I have this 
kind of confused faith. 
I thought it would be 
a great opportunity to do this incredible thing with a group of multi-faith people and contemplate what my beliefs
really are.

Lesley: I’m Jewish but for me it wasn’t so much a religious thing. I’d never been to Rome and I thought it would be amazing to walk into the city via a pilgrims’ route that people have travelled for thousands of years. When I got the call I was beyond excited. I didn’t sleep for
two nights.

You didn’t know which celebrities you’d be travelling with until you got there. Were you apprehensive?

Les: Definitely! We all met for the first time in Switzerland at the start of our route, so I was just hoping there would be people I got on with. Lesley was the first person I saw 
and I knew then I’d be fine.

Lesley: Les and I have known each other for years and, of course, I’d worked with Brendan on Strictly, but all of us just bonded so quickly.

How did you prepare for such a physically gruelling journey?

Les: I did Sport Relief last year [Les did 10 weeks of running, swimming and rowing for Famously Unfit] 
so I’d got myself to a certain fitness level. Before we set off I was on holiday with my family on a Greek island and every morning I did the croissant run to buy breakfast, which involved walking up and down the steepest hillside ever. 
That was very good training!

Lesley: I did a lot of walking beforehand. I made sure I bought the perfect boots, I got some Nordic walking poles and I tried to walk at least five miles a day. I even practised carrying a rucksack. I wanted to make sure I was as fit as a flea!

TV Times rating: ***