Ian Wright journeys through America's 'Bible Belt'
- the Deep South, home to the civil rights movement,
the American civil war, and blues, jazz and rock.
His trip begins with a trek in the stunning Smoky
Mountains on the Tennessee / North Carolina
border. It's the most visited National Park in the country
but there's still incredible remote wilderness and breathtaking
vistas all the way to the top of Mount Le Cont.
Driving south, Ian's first stop in North Carolina is
Asheville. The town is best known for
its home-grown entertainment and the lively mountain
music festival in the summer. Back on the road he learns
a little about the Cherokee Indians who lived in this
region until the white man arrived, a whole tribe of
Cherokees was to walk to Oklahoma.
In Scottsboro, Alabama, Ian pays a
visit the baggage reclaim superstore. Ian discovers
there's thriving business to be made out of bargains
and bizarre articles which never find their way back
to their owners hands at airports all around the world.
In the conservative, fundamentalist southern states
of the 'Bible Belt' it is thought that the snake is
the embodiment of the devil. Ian meets Reverend Carl
Porter uses deadly snakes during his sermons, believing
that if you can master a snake you can master the power
of the devil. Not surprisingly, his five hour services
have had a few casualties!
Ian begins his day in Atlanta, gateway
to the Deep South, with the ultimate southern breakfast
of country fried steak and grits & gravy. Atlanta
is the place where the world famous drink Coca-Cola
The birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr,
Atlanta's most famous son, is situated at the end of
'Freedom Walk'. The house is now a national monument.
When he was shot dead in Memphis in 1968 his body was
returned home and every year thousands of pilgrims inspired
by dreams of interracial harmony pay their respects.
From Atlanta Ian takes a greyhound bus to Tuskegee,
Alabama, for the public reunion of America's first back
fighter pilots, an annual air-show at Moton field. He's
lucky enough to be offered a ride in an early training
plane and learns a few tactical (but stomach-churning)
After heading south to the idyllic Gulf Shores, Ian
spends a day witnessing a reconstruction of the last
battle of the American Civil war. In 1865 the Confederates
of the South finally surrendered to the Unionists of
the North in Mobile Bay at Fort Morgan.
That evening he joins the Florabama beach party where he learns the right way to eat crawfish - and
the right way to toss mullet in the interstate mullet-toss
between Alabama & Florida.
The last leg of Ian's journey takes him via Vicksburg
and the blues town of Clarksdale to Memphis, Tennessee.
In Clarksdale he rents a room in the
Riverside Hotel, once patronised by the likes of Sam
Cook and Muddy Waters, and pays a visit to Wade Walten,
the blues-singling barber at the only old style shave
joint left in town.
Ian finally arrives at his destination - Memphis,
the city which flourished on the cotton trade of the
Mississippi Delta. He's here for just one thing, though
- Elvis week, an annual pilgrimage for thousands of
fans in the week of the anniversary of the King's death
on August 16th.
On a Cadillac cab to tour he takes in the sights of
the town: Elvis' childhood home, his school and Sun
Studios, where Elvis recorded his first ever hit. The
highpoint of the week, and the end of Ian's trip through
the extraordinary southern states is a candlelit vigil
attended by thousands, lasting throughout the night
of August 16th.