Adventurer Ben Fogle shares ‘a yomp through 20 years’

Ben Fogle and his wife Marina. Photo credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Ben Fogle and his wife Marina. Photo credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Adventurer Ben Fogle to bring Tales of the Wilderness tour to Yorkshire

Ben Fogle was sent by the BBC to the Outer Hebrides of Scotland for reality television show Castaway at the end of 1999.

He hasn’t looked back since his time marooned on the island of Taransay, going on to present numerous programmes including Countryfile, Extreme Dreams, New Lives in the Wild and A Year of Adventures, create documentaries, write books, and travel to more than 200 places across the world.

Twenty years on from his time marooned on the island of Taransay, he is about to embark on a tour of the UK, sharing stories of some of his wilder escapades.

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“It seemed a good moment to pull all my experiences together for an evening of both drama and laughter,” he says. “My hope is that it will be enlightening, educating and entertaining.”

The effortlessly charming Mr Fogle, 45, has been described as a TV presenter, writer, conservationist and adventurer, but it is “storyteller” that he would choose - and it is stories of some of his wilder escapades that he will tell to audiences all over the country, including in Yorkshire, during his tour Tales of the Wilderness.

“I’ll be talking about clearing mines in Iraq, swimming with crocodiles in Botswana, climbing Mount Everest, travelling with Princes William and Harry for conservation work in Africa, working at Longleat with Kate Humble on Animal Park and with John Craven on Countryfile for 10 years, taking part in the World Worm Charming Championship, and lots more besides.

“In short, it’s going to be a yomp through 20 hugely varied, highly enjoyable years.”

Unsurprisingly, his self-imposed life of high adventure has brought with it the kinds of brushes with death not experienced by most.

He almost drowned in the Atlantic when his boat capsized. He suffered frostbite as he trekked across 500 miles of snow.

Filming his TV series, Extreme Dreams, in Peru, he was bitten by a sand fly and developed leishmaniasis, a flesh-eating bug that kills tens of thousands of people each year.

All of which must have driven his long-suffering wife, Marina, with whom he has children Ludo and Iona, half-mad with worry. “Well yes,” he admits. “Although I proposed to her on my return from rowing across the Atlantic with James Cracknell so she kind of knew what she was taking on.”

But things can go wrong. “Sadly, I know of far too many people who’ve lost their lives in pursuit of being what you might call pioneers.

“The Australian Steve Irwin, for instance, was killed by a stingray but look what he’d done for people’s understanding of the environment.”

None of it has changed Ben’s approach to life. “If anything, it’s given me more resilience to make the most of all the amazing opportunities out there.”

At one stage, Mr Fogle had ambitions to follow in the footsteps of his mother Julie Foster and become an actor. His Canadian father Bruce Fogle is a high-profile vet.

“I’m frequently asked how it’s possible for someone to have what’s turned into my eclectic career,” he says. “And the simple answer is that I don’t know. It’s happened through a mix of luck and opportunity and determination.”

He is most proud of being appointed the United Nations Patron of the Wilderness.

“I now meet everyone from environment ministers to presidents to prime ministers all around the world and share my experiences of life in the wild, everything from Himalayan mountains to remote corners of the ocean. And all of it stems from the time I spent a year on that Hebridean island.”

Ben Fogle’s Tales of the Wilderness tour comes to York Barbican on March 8, Leeds Town Hall on March 10, Hull City Hall on March 13 and Harrogate Royal Hall on November 14. Tickets are available from www.benfogle.com