From tackling tough terrain to tearing up the dance floor, real-life action man Steve Backshall is always up for adventure. But, he tells Sarah Morgan, the outdoors and natural history will always have his heart
YOU’RE PROBABLY BEST KNOWN FOR YOUR TV WORK - HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
I actually started off as a writer for the national press and the Rough Guides. I came up with an idea for a series, got a camera and went to Columbia and filmed it on my own, and sold it to the National Geographic Channel. They didn’t just buy my programme, they took me on as their adventurer in residence, which is an awfully grand title, but was just the best job in the world.
DO YOU HAVE A DREAM PROJECT?
Yeah, I have a big expedition which is another first ascent of a mountain. It is, however, top, top secret, because now there are so many people wanting to get out and do this kind of thing that the number of places that are unknown and unconquered, as it were, are harder and harder to come by.
OF ALL YOUR EXPERIENCES, WHICH HAS HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU?
I think my earlier experiences, because they were new, fresh, and in some ways, frightening. I think we learn more from our mistakes, and when I was starting out, I made an awful lot of mistakes. I had a fair few close calls in my early travels. I got shot at, held at gunpoint and caught in riots, stoned and attacked and mugged and robbed.
AND YOU HAD A SERIOUS FALL ONCE
I did, yes, I had a serious rock climbing fall six years ago in the Wye Valley. I broke my back, smashed my left ankle to smithereens, and that’s taken an awful lot of coming back from.
IS IT GOOD TO BE BACK IN FAMILIAR TERRITORY AFTER YOUR STRICTLY COME DANCING ADVENTURE LAST YEAR?
Yes! That was a very interesting and very different adventure, something that I’ve never done before.
WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO TAKE PART?
You feel as if you can’t turn it down. Plus, my mum and sister would never have spoken to me again if I’d said no!
DID IT INTRODUCE YOU TO A NEW SET OF FANS?
I think there’s definitely a different set of people who know who I am and what I do.
WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU GOT IN THE PIPELINE?
I’m doing my Master’s thesis in biosciences. I also am writing two books, have another series in the early stages of production, and I have a live tour in the autumn. So it’s going to be a big year.
lSteve Backshall is speaking at The Telegraph Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show at ExCeL London, which runs until February 15. Visit telegraphoutdoorshow.eventgenius.co.uk