In 1955, during a lull in his filmmaking career, Orson Welles was commissioned by a British television company to make 26 travel programmes for a series titled Around the World with Orson Welles.
Predating Alan Whicker’s long-running and possibly Welles-inspired Whicker’s World documentary series, which ran from 1958 to 1994, it was to have been similar in format, with Welles visiting a range of countries and interviewing some of their more interesting inhabitants. Sadly, and for a variety of reasons, only six programmes were produced, and all of them were filmed in Europe. To mark the centenary of Welles’ birth, the British Film Institute (BFI) has released all six episodes (featuring the Basque region – two episodes – Paris, London, Madrid and Vienna) in limited-edition DVD and Blu-ray sets. A seventh episode – which was to have examined one of France’s most notorious, and still unsolved, murder cases – was never completed, but has been reconstructed in a new documentary that is presented as an extra feature. Some full episodes and clips from Around the World with Orson Welles, which is now available from amazon.co.uk or the BFI website, can also be found on YouTube.