HITS AND MISSES:TODD SAMPSON
Well this was a hit both figuratively and literally. In filming Series 2 of my show Body Hack ,I embedded with the Iraqi Special Forces in the battle of Mosul. Our goal was to explore the human body and how it adapts in one of the most violent and dangerous environments on earth. What I discovered was the incredible beauty and heart of an ancient city that had been reduced to rubble and destroyed by war. Even within all the destruction I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with the incredible hospitality and warmth of the Iraqi people. I’m ashamed to admit that most of what I knew about Iraq had been broadly defined by the media, yet what I experienced was completely different. The war was certainly ugly but it was the pockets of hope and colour that were a reminder of the amazing culture beneath it all
— a culture and country worth knowing. I hope the war in Mosul ends soon and they get to rebuild their lives and this remarkable city. When they do, I highly recommend a visit.
I was returning home from a month climbing Mt Denali in Alaska and stopped on Easter Island. The island itself is oddly beautiful but once I re-boarded the plane to Sydney things started going wrong. The plane took off at midnight and I was exhausted from the climb so I fell asleep immediately. Suddenly my ears were popping as we started to descend quickly. I looked out and, alarmingly, we were also dumping fuel. It looked as though we were falling into the darkness of the ocean, no land was in sight. Confusion set in. At first they said it was an electrical problem, then they hesitantly announced there was a potentially explosive device on board and an emergency landing was necessary. Time seemed to slow down and I remember thinking: concentrate on breathing slowly. As you can imagine, there was chaos, we landed hard and the doors were off quickly. I remember people hysterically grabbing their luggage, having been told not to, after seeing the response team, all in silver suits like spacemen, at the doors; then passengers running randomly down the tarmac into the darkness. It turned out to have been a false alarm and as a result I was detoured to Tahiti for two days — which I recommend if you need a break, and by that stage, I certainly did.