Sir Michael Palin was overwhelmed with emotion as he reunited with a Ukrainian man three decades after they first met.
The two men first met in the early 90s when Castelli was travelling from the south to the north pole via Ukraine, covering as much land as possible. His experience was later turned into 1992 TV show Pole to Pole.
Sir Michael then met Castelli again 15 years ago when they poignantly discussed what his vision of Ukraine would look like in 15 years’ time.
At the time, Castelli said: ‘Ukraine, by that time, should be much more sovereign. It should be much more independent and much more prosperous. Hopefully, it will be a real part of the European family.’
Speaking to each other once again via video call, Sir Michael told his long lost friend: ‘I feel very emotional.
Sir Michael said he was ‘inspired’ by talking to his longtime friend (Picture: BBC)
Vadim is currently safe and on the outskirts of Kyiv with his family (Picture: BBC)
‘I’m just so, so sorry about the dreadful circumstances and my heart goes out to you and your family, and everyone around you in Ukraine.’
He added: ‘Well, these are terrible circumstances and I’m so glad to talk to you actually.
‘We talked in good times and it’s great that we can talk again in bad times, because there has to be some sort of communication between us, between the nations, between the countries supporting Ukraine is so, so important.
‘I think that the worst thing that can happen is that the communications end and the Russian block all our ability to talk to you and your people.’
The pair also spoke about what more the UK and its allies could do for Ukraine, with Castelli explaining he understood that the west creating a ‘no-fly zone’ or stopping sales of Russian gas and oil is ‘unrealistic’.
Instead, he said that the west would be best served continuing to provide weapons to his war-torn country.
The filmmaker last spoke to Sir Michael 15 years ago (Picture: BBC)
‘What we can hope for now is just more weapons so that we can keep on resisting,’ Castelli said, adding that he isn’t obligated to fight as he is over the military fit age of 60 at 64.
‘Legally, nothing can stop me and I can try to leave the country. It is not an easy way in terms of logistics but I can do that, I can take my wife,’ he said.
‘I would not want to, at least not for now, because I feel like the reason why Putin could not take over Ukraine after two or three days as everyone predicted is because nobody on the Russian expected the Ukrainians to resist with such heroism, and I just have to be a part of my nation,’ the filmmaker continued.
After their touching reunion, Castelli told Sir Michael: ‘Thank you so much Michael, it was such a pleasure seeing you. Have I told you you haven’t changed since I saw you last?’
Sir Michael quipped that he had ‘got a bit older’ since their last meeting, joking: ‘It says on my birth certificate.’
The comedy icon said he found it ‘inspiring’ to hear from Castelli again after so many years of losing contact, telling him: ‘It’s great to see you, and I feel your strength there, which is important.
‘You’re clearly not looking defeated, you’re not giving up – despite the awful circumstances and that’s pretty inspiring. I know that we will speak again.’
BBC’s Sunday Morning is available to watch on iPlayer.