Joking aside, Michael Palin, former Python, actor, world traveller, would like you to know something. These days, he tells the camera at the start of his latest adventure, he needs a doctor’s letter to go abroad.

“I’m sort of getting on a bit now,” says the 79-year-old, adding matter of factly that he had a heart operation two years ago. “A couple of valves sorted.”

So no, he isn’t joking about that doctor’s letter. Happily, his GP said yes and Michael Palin: Into Iraq (Channel 5, Tuesday, 9pm) could go ahead.

All together now: Iraq?

Palin has been fascinated by the county since he was a boy, and he has never been before. There are not many countries that fit into that category. He has even explored North Korea and lived to tell the tale and, of course, write the book.

But again, Iraq? Scene of war, suffering, destruction? The country that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises British travellers against? The very same.

Iraq, says Palin, has a terrible present but an extraordinary past. It is the cradle of civilisation no less, and he wants to see for himself how the country is changing, or not.

First there is the matter of getting into the country. Palin wants to follow the Tigris from its source in Turkey and down through Iraq. Everything goes smoothly until the border, where there is a day long delay while phone calls are made to whatever authority is in charge.

Eventually he and the crew make it over the border, first stop Mosul. It has been five years since Isis were driven out of the city but many parts still look like war zones. Entire districts have been reduced to rubble, random bits and pieces, a sofa, a table, reminders that these were once people’s homes.

A couple of children wander along to see what is happening and have a chat with Palin about catapults. Life goes on.

Just 50 miles east in Erbil it is a different picture. Here in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan are swish hotels and shops selling luxury brands. This, Palin tells us, is what international support, large oil reserves and a firm grip on security can bring about.

From Erbil he travels on to the remote town of Akre, the setting for “Nowruz”, the Kurdish celebration of spring. Thousands of people are heading up the mountain to enjoy the fireworks and take part in a torchlit procession to the summit. Palin likens the scene, complete with gunfire in the background, to “Glastonbury meets Apocalypse Now”.

There are some hairy moments as Palin finds himself in a crush of men and flaming torches, but the sight that eventually greets him makes the arduous journey worth it. Next week it’s on to Baghdad. Not for the first time in Palin's career as a traveller, respect is due.

Daisy May Cooper and her brother Charlie wrote and starred in This Country, the comedy about two cousins, Kerry and Kurtan, and their quiet, too quiet, life in the Cotswolds. It was one of those sleeper hits that seemed to come from nowhere, establishing its creators as talents to keep an eye on.

Cooper and her new writing partner and friend, Selin Hizli, must be hoping for similar with Am I being Unreasonable? (BBC1, Friday, 9.30pm).

Described as a “twisted comedy thriller”, Cooper plays slummy mummy Nic, who appears not to give a stuff about most things. New to the village is fellow mum Jen (Hizli). The two hit it off and before you can say Chardonnay hangovers the pair are knee deep in secrets.

It would be a tad unreasonable to judge Am I Being Unreasonable on the basis of the first episode, but viewers will. While there is a notable shortage of laughs, the set-up is half way intriguing and Cooper is her watchable self, even if her character does say “Oh my God,” a lot.

Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker (Channel 4, Wednesday, 8pm) returns for a second series, defying all those doomster critics – including me – who thought it a competition show too far. An hour of watching people hammer and glue bits of wood together?

Handmade turned out to have two saving graces: the general kookiness of its contestants, and its host Mel Giedroyc, a presenter who never met a double entendre she didn’t like.

There’s one more thing: the tasks are genuinely difficult. In the first episode, for example, the ten contestants have to make a dining table for six that’s inspired by a country of their choice, plus a centrepiece.

Now, if a cake hits the buffers on Bake Off it can usually be saved if there’s enough time. But if you mess up a dining table, forget it.

Representing Scotland in the line-up is Calum, a designer from Glasgow, who intends to make a round table inspired by a Basque cheesecake. What could possibly go wrong?