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Series / Three Men in a Boat

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A humorous travel documentary series in which Griff Rhys Jones, Rory McGrath and Dara Ó Briain make various trips in a variety of boats. It was originally made as a one-off show in which the three men, with canine companion Loli, attempted to re-create the journey from Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat (1889). Two years later, they returned for a second outing, and made a number of trips until 2011. In the first two programmes, the journey was made in a single boat; all subsequent journeys have been made in a variety of different ones.


There have been seven so far, each comprising 2 x 1-hour episodes.

  • Three Men in a Boat (3 & 5 January 2006): The Three Men (to say nothing of the dog) embark on the journey described in the original novel, from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford, in a wooden skiff.
  • Three Men in Another Boat (1 & 2 January 2008): From Tower Bridge to the Isle of Wight in Griff's classic yacht.
  • Three Men in More Than One Boat (1 & 5 January 2009): From Plymouth to the Isles of Scilly.
  • Three Men Go to Ireland (30 December 2009 & 1 January 2010): From Dublin to Limerick.
  • Three Men Go to Scotland (27 & 30 December 2010): From the River Clyde to the Isle of Harris, recreating James Boswell and Samuel Johnson's journey through the Scottish Highlands and Islands as told in The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides.
  • Three Men Go to Venice (21 & 28 June 2011)
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  • Three Men Go to New England (27 & 28 December 2011)

This programme provides examples of:

  • Artifact Title: Sort of. They are still three men in a boat, but the second adventure onwards have had nothing to do with Jerome K. Jerome, for which the first one was named. Granted, none of the subsequent ones have been actually titled Three Men in a Boat, but it still lives on as an informal title throughout the series.
  • And Zoidberg: One of the camp songs they make goes "Here I am on a rowing skiff with Irish Dara and Welshman Griff, we've got a fireplace to get the dog scared stiff, and Rory." The one they actually sing is only marginally kinder.
  • Canine Companion: Loli, the dog from the first adventure.
  • Cunning Linguist: Rory has a first-class master's degree in languages that comes in useful several times. Not only does he already know the major European languages such as French and Italian, but it lets him rapidly learn the basics of other ones that become relevant in the Three Men's adventures, such as Serbo-Croatian.
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  • Early Installment Weirdness: The opening first programme features a jaunty theme song, complete with animation. The relationship between the Three Men also seems a little more antagonistic at times.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The series is about three men who travel in boats together.
  • Hidden Depths: All three of the men, though how hidden they are to the viewer depends on which of their other programmes one's seen. Rory's languages, Griff's interest in architecture and sailing and Dara's brief American football career all qualify as examples.
  • Naked People Are Funny: In Three Men Go to Venice, Rory and Griff are sailing past a nudist colony and the latter decides to embrace the concept of nudism, covering his modesty somewhat appropriately with a packet of nuts.
  • Power Trio
  • Scenery Porn
  • The Teetotaler: It's subtle but clear that Griff doesn't drink (he's in recovery) while Dara and Rory enjoy alcohol during their trips. Griff even turns away and covers his face when Dara and Rory are spraying champagne to try and get as little on himself as possible.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: There seems to be a bit of genuine antagonism at the beginning, but pretty soon, the Three Men settle into a relationship of good-humoured bickering with each other.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: When Rory sees a shop that has an Old English sign, he quips that they've come to an "Ye Olde-ey Shoppe-ey".

How well does it match the trope?

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