To kick off our new monthly Q&A series we were fortunate enough to catch up with broadcaster, presenter, adventurer and man of action Ben Fogle. Despite being in the midst of a hectic schedule of filming and writing Ben took some time out with us to talk about Underworld, deadly crocodiles and Peruvian brothels…
You’ve worked on some fascinating programs and visited some incredible places over the last few years but can you tell us a little bit about the projects that you have been working on most recently.
I have been working on a number of overseas wilderness projects. I have been in Outer Mongolia and Alaska for a new series of New Lives in the Wild in which I live with people in the remotest corners of the world and recently finished a year-long project The Great Migration following the annual movement of a million and a half wildebeest across Tanazania and Kenya which begins on Channel 5 at 9pm on the 22nd April. My new book on the history of the Land Rover from Series I to Defender is out in September.
Reflecting on your career to date, do you have a piece of work which gives you greatest satisfaction?
The physical challenges have always tested me the most. Rowing across the Atlantic Ocean was one of the hardest things. Running the Marathon Des Sables was the most painful and swimming with wild Nile Crocodiles in Botswana was the scariest!
What do you find inspires creativity in you?
I am a driven person who thrives on risk and challenge. Life is too short to take the easy option. It's too easy to become complacent with your life. I like to shake it up and live it to the maximum. Do one thing that scares you every day and you will be a better person for it. I think that creativity comes when you are happy.
Do you have any personal ambitions as yet unattained?
Too many. There are oceans to swim and mountains to climb. There are books to be written and people to meet. I have always lived life to the full. No regrets.
Who would you say has been the most influential person in your life and why?
Family. Family is everything to me. In the early years it was naturally my parents but now my own children, Ludo (6) and Iona (4) loom large. Everything I do is for them. I want to be an inspiring father.
You’ve had a few, but what is the most challenging experience you have had and why?
I made a documentary about the underwater life of Nile Crocodiles in Botswana. We had to dive with wild crocs with no protection. It was unbearably scary and in retrospect probably also a little fool hardy. The logistics were as fraught as the diving itself.
Which decade in the last 100 years do you believe has done the most to shape our culture and which has had the biggest impact on you?
The great era of heroic exploration towards the end of the First World War changed the map of the world. Poles were discovered and heroes made.
Do you feel style is important or is it just an unnecessary superficiality?
Style means more to me as I get older. I now care about what I wear. I am defiantly an aesthete and I care about the look. I now only wear vintage or vintage inspired outdoor clothing. Nigel Cabourn has become a great friend and I love his style.
If you could hold on to one memory from your life forever, what would that be?
On a beach in the Bahamas with my children and wife. Happy happy happy.
What is the funniest thing you have ever witnessed?
I spent a two weeks driving a car from the Andes to the Amazon jungle with the comedian Hugh Dennis. I have never laughed so much. It was quite funny staying in a Peruvian brothel with Hugh.
Where do you call home and how do you feel about it?
Home is in West London. It is my nest. I love it. It has a serenity. I am away filming for more than 8 months a year and I dream of my home.
What is your favourite city on the planet and why?
London. I am a Londoner born and bred. I love the city. I know it inside out but it never ceases to surprise and inspire.
What is your favourite place to get away from it all and unwind?
A beach. Any beach. Hot or cold. Dry or rainy. The movement of the ocean relaxes me.
What 5 books do you recommend every man should read?
Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Gerrard, The old man and the sea by Ernest Hemingway. Most recently a book called A man called Ove by Frederik Backman
And your 5 desert island discs?
Beck, Inxs, Rodriguez, Fat Freddy's drop, Underworld