By 1980, Miles was recognized as an agreeable and entertaining broadcaster both on television and on the radio.
In 1980 he got what many would consider his big break: he was invited to present one of the Great Railway Journeys, a film series being undertaken by BBC Features. The result was a life-changing experience in Peru and Bolivia, which he wrote about extensively . The film ‘Three Miles High’ was considered by many to be the best in the series. It features the highest railway journey in the world, running from Lima, on the coast, way up the Andes to Machu Picchu. The travel adventure ends abruptly in Bolivia in the middle of a revolution. The photography is stunning and Miles’s script, light, witty and perceptive, earned him the warmest praise from the series producer. What the film particularly demonstrated was the warmth of his personality and his genuine interest in other people, which overcame the obstacles of language and very different cultures. Added to that he was popular with the crew. He mucked in, worked hard, and didn’t complain about the excruciating situations they sometimes found themselves in.
It followed, therefore, that more TV work would come his way. And it did. He started to make regular appearances on shows like Scoop and Call My Bluff.
In 1982, the popular broadcaster, Barry Norman, decided he wanted to step down from presenting his weekly Films programme. Films 82 was to have a new presenter and four personalities, including Miles, were invited to present three programmes each. Miles was offered the job and, to the amazement of most people, turned it down.
In 1986 he was invited to present one of the Great Journeys for BBC Features and 1987 saw him with the film crew in Burma and China to make ‘The Burma Road’. Again the programme and his role in it were highly thought of and on the strength of these two films he was offered the opportunity to front ‘Round The World in Eighty Days’. He turned it down.
After that he ceased to be a major player on television.
He made a series on Franglais for Channel 4. Based on his Franglais books, the programmes were a series of sketches dramatizing his dialogues and featuring some well-known personalities. Despite this and the attempt to keep the cartoon-style of Merrily Harpur, and the light-hearted feel of the sketches, Miles wasn’t enthusiastic about the end product.
In the late 198Os he needed little persuasion to make Steam Days. The films are glorious nostalgia, featuring nine remaining steam trains in Britain. Beautifully shot, the script reflects his great love of these snorting monsters. The programmes resulted in the book Steaming Through Britain.
In 1988 he made Picnic at Gannet Rock, a documentary for BBC Plymouth about a visit from the Aboriginal Cricket team to Alderney.
In the 1990s he made a documentary, The Holy Foreskin, for HTV. Based on the premise that the only bits of himself that Christ would have left behind would have included his foreskin, the film went to Italy in search of the relic and found no less than thirteen, all claiming to be the genuine article.
In the 1990s he appeared regularly on programmes made for television which featured jazz – A Taste of Jazz, BBC2; NYJO and the Giants of Jazz, BBC2; At The Albert, (series) HTV 1997; Festival Live, HTV.