MICHAEL Portillo has visited several of Essex’s seaside towns as he continues his journey across the Great British coast.

The former MP turned TV star’s latest tour of the country’s coastlines took Michael from Canvey in south Essex to Wrabness in the north of the county.

On this week’s episode of BBC Two’s Great Coastal Railway Journeys, Michael arrived at Benfleet station on a c2c train before travelling to Canvey where he met “local history buff” Rod Bishop.

Michael visited the Dutch Cottage Museum where he learnt about the island’s history and how the Dutch helped save Canvey from being lost to the sea many centuries ago.

Braintree and Witham Times: Star - Michael Portillo on the Essex coastStar - Michael Portillo on the Essex coast (Image: BBC / Naked West/Fremantle)

Asked why he was so passionate about the island’s history, Rod told Michael: “My family on my mother’s side had farms on Canvey and I just had a passion for Canvey.”

He also visited the Dengie National Nature Reserve in Bradwell-on-Sea and the Chapel of St Peters on the Wall, which is one of the oldest Christian churches in England.

David Thorpe, the parish church warden, said: “We’re very proud to have it in our community and we’re proud to look after it.”

Michael added: “While many of Britain’s churches are now derelict or unused it’s remarkable that one of the oldest is still well supported by its parishioners.”

Braintree and Witham Times: Historic - Michael visited the Chapel of St Peters on the WallHistoric - Michael visited the Chapel of St Peters on the Wall (Image: BBC / Naked West/Fremantle)

Braintree and Witham Times: Worship - the site is one of the oldest Christian churches in EnglandWorship - the site is one of the oldest Christian churches in England (Image: BBC / Naked West/Fremantle)

While in Essex, Michael also visited Walton which he described as “a classic seaside town” boasting more than three miles of golden sands and 1,000 “picturesque” beach huts.

“I’ve never seen beach huts in tiers like this, row after row,” he said. “They’re obviously a big thing here.”

Braintree and Witham Times: Quirky - Michael visited A House for Essex in WrabnessQuirky - Michael visited A House for Essex in Wrabness (Image: BBC / Naked West/Fremantle)

He met anglers fishing off Walton Pier before travelling further north to Wrabness, a village between Harwich and Manningtree where he visited A House for Essex, a quirky structure designed by the artist Grayson Perry and architect Charles Holland.

Future episodes will see Michael travel further along the East Anglian coast, through Suffolk before arriving at The Wash near Snettisham in Norfolk – the biggest bay in England.

Great Coastal Railway Journeys is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.