PRESS RELEASE

BBC2 - Holidays in the Danger Zone:
PLACES THAT DON'T EXIST

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UK transmission: 5 x 30 minutes
Transmission date: BBC2 for five weeks from Wednesday May 4th
Transmission time: 7.30pm
Executive Producer: Karen O’Connor
Series Producer / Director: Will Daws
Writer and Presenter: Simon Reeve
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There are almost 200 official countries in the world. But there are  dozens more breakaway states which are determined to be separate and  independent.
The breakaway states have their own rulers, parliaments or warlords,  and are home to millions of people, but they’re not officially  recognised as proper countries by the rest of the world.
Several have their own armies and police forces, and issue passports  and even postage stamps which the rest of the world ignores.
All of the breakaway states have declared independence after violent  struggles with a neighbouring state.
Some now survive peacefully, but others are a magnet for terrorists and  weapons smuggling, and have armies ready for a fight.
All could be at the centre of future wars which threaten their regions  and the wider world.

Welcome to Places that Don’t Exist...

Daily Telegraph – “a truly involving piece of television…a fascinating,  often amusing trawl through six of the world’s many breakaway  states…Simon Reeve has an enviable reputation…and an unusually engaging  TV style…”
The Times – “an informative and revealing insight into little-known  areas of the world”
Radio Times – “a first class series…ventures to parts of the world TV  rarely penetrates”
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After the success of Meet the Stans, his BBC2/BBC4 guide to Central  Asia, Simon Reeve, the charismatic author who first alerted the world  to al Qaeda, presents the latest gripping journey in the Holidays  series, supported by series producer Will Daws (Holidays in the Axis of  Evil/Violent Coast/One Day of War).
In a world of easy adventure tourism Simon visits breakaway states &  unrecognized nations which don’t usually feature on the tourist trail:  Somaliland, Transniestria, South Ossetia, Taiwan, Abkhazia, Ajaria and  Nagorno-Karabkh:

Programme 1: SOMALILAND – transmission 4TH MAY 2005 @ 7.30pm BBC2 –  poverty-stricken Somalilanders fought alongside Britain during WW2, but  their country is not recognised as a proper state. They are bravely  building their nation, creating an African success story.
Programme 2: TRANSNIESTRIA – transmission 11TH MAY  @ 7.30pm BBC2 – a  Soviet time-warp where Lenin statues still stand and the real KGB  detained presenter Simon Reeve as a spy.
Programme 3: TAIWAN – transmission 18TH MAY @ 7.30pm BBC2 – this lush  island, packed with ancient Chinese treasures, could be the focus of  major war because China wants it back.
Programme 4: GEORGIA – transmission 25TH MAY @ 7.30pm BBC2 – three  areas of this troubled but welcoming nation split to form separate  states after the Soviet Union collapsed.
Programme 5: NAGORNO-KARABAKH – transmission 1ST JUNE @ 7.30pm - in the  Azerbaijan mountains, beautiful Karabakh claims the world’s highest  rate of longevity, but visitors are rare.
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Introduction
In this exciting new series, Simon Reeve is taught to fish by the  President of Moldova, becomes an unofficial Somali diplomat, and finds  himself crammed into a lift with the President of Georgia.
He visits a little-known country stuck in a Soviet-era time-warp, and a  mountainous state which claims to have the highest rate of longevity on  the planet. Simon also discovers abandoned missiles capable of  destroying skyscrapers, al Qaeda terrorists in an African jail and the  mass graves of children killed by soldiers.
Simon meets a blonde popstar who’s a crackshot with an AK-47, a  mournful guitarist, and a Taiwanese boy band. He climbs the world’s  tallest building, visits the site of the battle in Black Hawk Down, is  electrocuted in Mogadishu, finds 5,000 year old rock paintings, buys  himself a new Somali passport from a man called Mr Big Beard, and is  held as a spy by the Transniestrian KGB.
Snake blood is on the menu in Asia, rock-hard yoghurt in the Caucuses,  camel milk in Africa and two bottles of cognac when Simon is forced to  celebrate independence with a Communist politician.
He meets a villager who sold a kidney to buy a cow, and children forced  to live in freezing railway carriages. Amid the minefields of  Nagorno-Karabkh, Simon is pelted with snowballs by refugee children.  But in the sweltering heat of Mogadishu he needs a dozen armed gunmen  just to stay alive.
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Programme one: SOMALILAND – transmission 4TH MAY 2005 @ 7.30pm BBC2
In the north of Somalia – one of the poorest and most dangerous  countries in the world – is Somaliland, a stable working democracy  which no other nation recognizes as a proper country.
Somaliland used to be linked to Britain, but joined with Somalia in the  1960s to form one country. When the relationship soured Somaliland  sought independence, but had to fight a bitter war against the Somali  dictator during which thousands died.
Simon’s first stop on the way to Somaliland is Mogadishu, the capital  of Somalia, where a dozen armed guards are needed to prevent kidnap or  killing.
The war-ravaged city, abandoned by the rest of the world, is in a state  of anarchy with warlords instead of a government. But the rest of the  world recognizes Somalia as an official state.
Because there’s no government there’s also no police force. In the main  market, Simon buys himself a Somali diplomatic passport from a man  called Mr Big Beard, then heads north to Somaliland.
Although this nation of 3.5m people is relatively stable, with a  government, police force and traffic lights, no country recognizes it  exists.
Simon is guided around by Yusuf, a national hero and former guerilla  fighter who spent 10 years battling for Somaliland’s independence.
Because Somaliland is not recognized it’s having trouble getting  foreign aid to help with the worst drought in decades. Tens of  thousands of people are at risk of starvation.
The President tells Simon he runs the country on just a few million  pounds a year. Because nobody recognizes the government it cannot get  loans, making Somaliland one of the few poor countries on the planet  not burdened by foreign debt repayments. Because there is no money  sloshing around, there’s also little corruption.
Some countries want Somaliland to reunify with Somalia. Over a camp  fire, Yusuf and Simon drink warm camel milk together. Yusuf warns Simon  a forced reunification with Somalia could lead to war, and he would be  prepared to fight.
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Presenter biography
Simon Reeve, 32, is an author, adventurer and TV presenter. His book  The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the future of  terrorism, published in 1998, was the first to investigate bin Laden &  al Qaeda. The book predicted 9/11-type terrorist attacks, and was a New  York Times bestseller.
Simon’s most recent book is One Day in September: the story of the 1972  Munich Olympics massacre, published by Faber. The movie of the same  name won the Oscar for best feature documentary. The New Yorker said  the book was  “Highly skilled and detailed...a page-turner”, the Daily  Mail said “this astonishing record of the massacre at the Munich  Olympics should be compulsory reading”.
Simon was last seen on BBC2 travelling around Central Asia for 'Meet  the Stans'. In this four-part series viewers joined an adventure which  took Simon from the far north-west of Kazakhstan, by the Russian  border, east to the Chinese border, south through Kyrgyzstan and  Tajikistan to the edge of Afghanistan, and west to Uzbekistan and the  legendary Silk Road cities of Samarkand and Bukhara. The Guardian  described it as “thrilling”, The Times as “first-class”, the Observer  as “spectacular”, The Daily Telegraph as “wonderful” and The Sunday  Times as “excellent”.
Simon has visited dozens of countries on his adventures in the last few  years. He is currently planning more adventures and more books, and  spends far too much time scanning his atlas looking for strange places  to visit.
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