More used to exploring the world, the much-loved TV traveller is staying closer to home this autumn, taking his theatre show – featuring inspiring tales from his adventures in more than 120 countries – around the UK
♦ PRODUCTION EDITOR ♦ Chatting to Simon Reeve about why travellers hate having him on their flights
You’re travelling around the UK this time – that’s quite unusual for you.
I’ve travelled around the country a bit – perhaps more than most – but not as much as I’d like. The BBC has always said my niche is travelling abroad, and if it works, it works. I’ve generally gone with it.
Your tour covers everywhere from Exeter to Edinburgh – will you throw in a few microadventures, perhaps?
I love the microadventure idea. I think we have to squeeze every drop of life out of our short time on this planet. It’s tricky when you’ve got children but we’ve given it a good go, with bivvy bags and wild camping. Maybe I should be doing a microadventure after my event in Dundee; maybe I should get out into the Highlands. You’ve put the seed of possibility there now!
What do you hope people take away from your show?
A willingness to be pushed a little bit further out of their comfort zones. The tour is going to be about why people should travel: life is shockingly short and we’re living during a golden age of travel. People should take the chance, as much as they can, to fill their lives with a bit of meaning, with soul, with a journey.
What has been your own moment of pure travel bliss?
The one that’s leaping into my head is looking over Lake Nakuru in Kenya, which is home to about a million flamingos. I was with a guy and a guard who were telling me so much information that, to this day, helps form my thoughts about conservation, human encroachment on wild areas and the value of tourism. It was like having the best lecturers while in one of the most beautiful locations on the planet.
What else have you been up to lately?
Filming a series called The Mediterranean. We’ve gone from Malta on an anticlockwise journey around one of the most important patches of water on the planet, the sea around which endless civilisations have risen and fallen. A few people have said to me that it sounds a little bit tame compared to the other series. But I tell you, we’ve had some extreme situations: from visiting the Gaza Strip to crawling down a Mafia escape sewer in southern Italy while on a surveillance mission with Italian special forces. Very eventful so far.
And you’ve been writing an autobiography at the same time?
Yes. It will be called Step by Step. There will be a few stories in there but a lot of it is about growing up and the challenges that I faced. When I left school, things got very dark. I found myself very unsure about what I was going to do and whether I could go on – I had a lot of counselling when I was a teenager. It was quite cathartic to go through it all; I’m keen for people to know that there are ways out.
And finally, do people get worried when they recognise you in a place?
I did get that filming in Cyprus a couple of months ago. On the plane flying out, there were some Brits who were saying: oh flipping heck, maybe if you’re going, we shouldn’t be going there on holiday!
“Take the chance, as much as you can, to fill your life with meaning, with a journey”
tours the UK from September to November 2018, with more dates in March and April 2019; see www.simonreeve.co.uk