In­trepid TV trav­eller re­veals favourite jour­ney is to see his son

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - NEWS - By Bill Gibb bgibb@sundaypost.com

Si­mon Reeve’s lat­est se­ries sees the TV ad­ven­turer travel through an­other of the world’s danger zones.

The sea­soned ex­plorer – who has been to more than 120 coun­tries – looked at the cri­sis in Burma that has seen many of the one mil­lion Ro­hingya peo­ple forced to flee.

In Bur­maWith Si­mon Reeve, which airs tonight on BBC Two, the trav­eller made his way to the world’s largest refugee camp, de­spite tales of vi­cious beat­ings and re­stric­tions placed on for­eign­ers.

But he has told how be­ing a dad has given him a whole new per­spec­tive on the risks he’ll take for his ac­claimed pro­grammes.

“I have a seven-year-old lad who I love com­ing home to,” says Si­mon, 45, who has young son Jake, with wife Anya. “I take be­ing a dad very se­ri­ously.

“When we’re in a far- flung place and de­bat­ing whether we should drive down the wrong side of a road to get to an ex­e­cu­tion, which has hap­pened, I think of Jake.

“I will think care­fully if it’s a wise thing to do be­cause I want to get back to him.

“My at­ti­tude has def­i­nitely changed and I’ve tried to limit the trips.”

In the past, though, Si­mon ad­mits his care­free na­ture and gung- ho at­ti­tude led to nu­mer­ous sit­u­a­tions where he could eas­ily have died.

Once, in a part of the for­mer Soviet Union, Si­mon was set to film some peo­ple clear­ing a mine­field.

“We were walk­ing in a gully when we sud­denly came across a car­cass of a cow that had ob­vi­ously been blown up,” said Si­mon. “Then some­body screamed at us not to move – we were in the mine­field.

“From the top of my head to the back of my heels, I felt a crackle of elec­tric­ity as I had this pri­mal re­ac­tion. Every bit of your body is say­ing, ‘Stay ab­so­lutely still, do not move a mus­cle’.

“Panic set in. Af­ter a few min­utes an army of­fi­cer screeched to a halt in a Jeep, looked down and said it was OK, they were tank mines.

“He said our weight wouldn’t set them off. But walk­ing back out was hor­rific as you can’t help think­ing that if he was wrong, that would be it.

“It was ter­ri­fy­ing and get­ting in there was quite stupid, frankly.”

Si­mon’s see-what-hap­pens at­ti­tude to film­ing has, he ad­mits, led even re­cently to tense sit­u­a­tions de­spite his new­found care­ful ap­proach. “Some­times it’s in­evitable as I’ve been in some of the most re­mote, dan­ger­ous places on the planet,” he said.

“I’ve just been film­ing in Gaza for a new se­ries and we found our­selves near an Is­lamic Ji­had mil­i­tary camp which we didn’t know was there.

“The team have sent me a clip – just to take the mick – where you can see my dawn­ing re­al­i­sa­tion that this is re­ally not safe.

“Fur­ther down the road we were held up by a group of armed men who we thought were ji­hadis.

“When we found out they were Ha­mas we were so re­lieved about that be­ing a bet­ter op­tion, we were vir­tu­ally cel­e­brat­ing be­ing held up by them, which they couldn’t un­der­stand.”

Si­mon is re­duc­ing the time he’s away from home to cher­ish his times with Jake, hav­ing had such a trou­bled time him­self as a youth he even thought of tak­ing his own life. But a visit to the High­lands helped turn his life around.

“I went on a mini- ad­ven­ture to Glen Coe in my teens,” said Si­mon.

“I was lost as a per­son and I had thought of end­ing it all. I had been in some very dark places from when I was just 12 or 13, a lit­tle lost lad.

“So I went off on my own, in a bit of a state, and climbed in Glen Coe.

“The very act of go­ing up a hill, achiev­ing some­thing, con­vinced me I was ca­pa­ble of liv­ing a full and mean­ing­ful life. It helped make me. So Scot­land has a very in­tense, emo­tional place in my heart.”

Si­mon will be back in Scot­land for a the­atre tour in Dundee, In­ver­ness, Dun­fermline and Glas­gow from Oc­to­ber 10.

Visit gce­live.com for tick­ets

I’m a dad now and mak­ing it home in one piece is a pri­or­ity so I’ll def­i­nitely be try­ing to avoid wan­der­ing into a mine­field...again

– Ad­ven­turer Si­mon Reeve

Si­mon, left, and brother James at Dal­mally sta­tion, Ar­gyll, in the 1980s

Si­mon says he’s tak­ing fewer risks

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