Andi and Miquita Oliver headed for the beautiful island of Antigua – but this was a complex journey into their own heritage
A review by Ed Power for London’s Telegraph.
It’s been a rough few years for the celebrity travelogue. With the pandemic bringing international travel to a halt, television personalities who might previously have criss-crossed the globe for our viewing pleasure were forced to instead slum it in the UK. But those dark days are finally at an end and, on the heels of Sue Perkins’ Big American Road Trip on Channel 4 the previous week, air miles were once again clocked up on The Caribbean with Andi and Miquita (BBC Two).
Andi Oliver, a post-punk musician (and one-time bandmate of Neneh Cherry) turned television personality and celebrity chef and her TV presenter daughter Miquita, were a charming double-act. They would have made for excellent company if all the BBC could manage was packing them off on a camping weekend to Skegness. However, episode one of The Caribbean wasn’t merely an excuse for mother and daughter to bask in the sunshine. This was part travel show, part exploration and celebration of their Antiguan heritage.
Andi was proud to be the child of Antiguan migrants to Britain and eager to reconnect with her far-flung relatives in the Caribbean. Yet for Miquita, Antigua was a more complex subject. This fascinating and emotive documentary gave her the space to honestly come to terms with her conflicted feelings. Her father was Scottish and growing up she had shunned her Caribbean identity. “In my early twenties I was white,” she said. “There weren’t many woman who looked like me on the telly.”
The Black Lives Matter movement had led both mother and daughter to reflect on their Britishness and to forge a new relationship with Antigua. Miquita smoked a long pipe of marijuana with Rastafarians – the drug is decriminalised in Antigua – and spoke to a former beauty queen for whom the zen-like tenets of the Rasta faith represented freedom from the objectification of the beauty industry.
While Miquita toked and chatted, Andi enjoyed reconnecting with family. Among those she sat down with was 91-year-old uncle John, who explained Antigua’s brutal history of slavery had left a damaging legacy. “It was really driven home that the white people were in charge and better than you,” he recalled of his childhood (Antigua would only gain full independence in 1981).
As a mediation on race and belonging, the episode was by necessity sometimes heavy going (the concluding part next week will see mother and daughter travelling to Barbados, which recently became a republic). However, Andi and Miquita were such a buoyant pair that storm clouds were not allowed linger.
“I am Antiguan,” declared Miquita over dinner at the end of the journey – a statement she may not have felt comfortable making at the beginning. It was a upbeat conclusion to a broadcast that ticked many celebrity travel show boxes but which was ultimately much more than another formulaic excursion to parts scenic.