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Islands Of Britain

Airs Mondays, July 16-30, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Martin Clunes, host of ISLANDS OF BRITAIN

Credit: Courtesy of American Public Television

Above: Martin Clunes, host of ISLANDS OF BRITAIN

Surprisingly, the U.K. is made up of about 6,000 different islands, and some of the most unfamiliar ones are often the most fascinating. In ISLANDS OF BRITAIN, actor Martin Clunes ("Doc Martin," "Men Behaving Badly," "Reggie Perrin") sets out to explore these beautiful but remote communities, shedding new light on their history, culture, flora and fauna.

Clunes guides us through amazing landscapes and seascapes, meeting colorful locals along the way. The three-part series showcases all sorts of island dwellers — from people who live off the land, to the mega rich who use their islands to escape the paparazzi. We also get to hear some remarkable stories of British folklore, with tales of smugglers, pirates, wizards and saints.

"The North" airs Monday, July 16, 2012 at 10 p.m. - Exploring the remote Scottish islands, Clunes begins his journey on Muckle Flugga, the most northerly outpost of the British Isles.

Next stop is Forvik in the Shetlands, occupied by just one man — Stuart Hill — who has declared independence from the rest of Britain and invited the Queen to come and visit him in his tent.

The final stop in the Shetlands is Unst, the most northerly inhabited island in the country. There we meet Derek, who is the island's chief Viking, and is responsible for maintaining Unst's Norse traditions.

Clunes then heads for the Outer Hebrides, and the Island of Lewis and Harris, followed by the remote Island of Eigg, with its 80 inhabitants. This adventure ends in Barra, the westernmost inhabited island in Britain. Barra has picture postcard scenery and is often described as the most beautiful island in the country.

"The West" airs Monday, July 23, 2012 at 10 p.m. - The islands of the west are off the coasts of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland with a couple in between. The journey begins on the tiny Island of Piel, near Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria.

There, Clunes meets Steve Cuthbertson, who has taken on the tenancy of the island pub — and also inherited the traditional title of the King of Piel.

Our next destination is the chain of islands known as the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, which are surrounded by some of the most dangerous seas in Britain.

Then it's on to the Isle of Man, in the middle of the Irish Sea. With 80,000 inhabitants, Clunes discovers it's an independent-minded place with its own government, taxes and some strange creatures.

The final destination — and the westernmost point in this journey — is Rathlin, the only inhabited island off the coast of Northern Ireland.

"The South" airs Monday, July 30, 2012 at 10 p.m. - In the final episode, Clunes explores islands off the south coast of the British mainland. First stop is Guernsey in the Channel Islands — a tax haven popular with wealthy settlers.

Then we follow our intrepid guide to Sark, another nearby island. With just 600 inhabitants, it is in a timewarp; at the time of filming it's the last feudal state in Europe and the only motorized vehicles allowed are tractors.

Next is St. Michael's Mount, a tiny island comprising a castle and a few houses, just off the Cornish coast. The stage of the journey through islands of the south includes a visit to the Scilly Isles, off Land's End in Cornwall.

Preview: Islands Of Britain: The North

Preview: Islands Of Britain: The West

Preview: Islands Of Britain: The South

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