As we walked around Zubieta, chatting with the locals, and enquiring about their farming traditions and festivals, Michael's superb language skills came to the fore. Addressing the villagers in fluent Spanish, he would immediately distil the essence of the conversation and summarise it, almost simultaneously, in unfaltering English to the camera. Michael's superb Spanish language skills bore testimony to his multi-lingual upbringing and his father's - not always appreciated - attempts to raise his sons in his native tongue.
Towards the end of the day, Michael voiced a special thank you to the Basque people themselves for, had it not been for the Basque refugee camp where his parents had met, he would never have been born.
Having worked regularly with the media over the past decades, it was enlightening to join Curve Media in the filming of this first episode of ‘The Pyrenees with Michael Portillo’. And, as a language speaker myself, it was fascinating to see this professional team of linguists at work. British linguists are, sadly, few and far between.