ON-SCREEN adventurer Ben Fogle hopes that next week’s Inverness appearance will be a bit more straightforward than his most recent — unscheduled — visit to the area
"The last time was an unexpected emergency aircraft landing at Lossiemouth after our aircraft got into difficulty returning from Fair Isle," he revealed.
"Over the years I have made films about everything from the Loch Ness monster to the Urquart Castle. Last time I was in the area I had to pull out of an adventure race around Loch Ness with suspected malaria. It turned out to be Leishmaniasis, a flesh eating disease. It will be a happier return to the city this time."
Happier too because this might be the closest Fogle comes to achieving his childhood ambitions to being an actor when he treads the boards with his one man show, Call of the Wild, with the Inverness theatre the first venue on his 19-date tour.
"Whenever life becomes too comfortable for me, I need to shake it up and this is the first time I have ever done anything like this," he explained.
"I have done talks before but this is going to be a little more theatrical, it’s going to be a proper event moment. It is sort of sharing my life and adventures with the audience. It is the story of where I got to where I am today and how someone who grew up in London ended up working in the furthest, wildest corners of the world and how it’s made me the person that I am.
"It will be really nice to actually go and meet people and hopefully leave them feeling inspired. That’s the idea."
Those adventures include rowing across the Atlantic with his best friend, former Olympic oarsman James Cracknell, running across the Sahara and crossing the Antarctica on foot, as well as presenting numerous hit programmes on the BBC, ITV and Channel 5 including, New Lives in the Wild, Extreme Dreams and Through Hell and High Water.
One of the main reasons Fogle wants to push himself mentally and physically is to make his two children, Ludo (5) and Iona (4) proud.
"It’s partly borne out of the realisation that I don’t want to always be living off the things I did in the past," he said. "I don’t want my kids to be saying: ‘My Daddy was an adventurer and he went to the South Pole before I was born.’ I’d quite like some of what I do to be in the present.
"When I come back from a trip, the first thing they want to know is where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing and why I’ve been there. I love being able to share with them the tales of the people I’ve been with or the animals that I’ve met."
Fogle was first introduced to the viewing public when he appeared on BBC’s Castaway in 2000. The reality series followed a group of 35 volunteers for 12 months as they were tasked to build a self-sufficient community on the Hebridean island of Taransay. As one of the volunteers, it launched Fogle’s television career and ignited a lifelong passion for travel and adventure, yet he admits he would love to go back to a more back-to-basics way of life.
"I’d love to do it, to find that perfect place to go and live in the wild. There is something very appealing about moving to a faraway place," he said.
"I don’t know whether we will do it for six months or a long summer. But I like the idea that we will one day."
Such a dream is in contrast to Fogle’s current hectic lifestyle.
About to launch his seventh book, Labrador, where he shares his love of the world’s most popular dog breed, he has been filming six different television shows this year, one of which is New Lives in the Wild: UK, a home grown spin off of his international series, which will focus on people who have swapped the rat race for simpler lifestyles in remote parts of the British Isles.
"The UK series has been a real eye opener and I’ve loved doing it," he said.
"It’s been a fascinating insight and proof that we can live a wild existence here in this country. And it inspires me for where we might live in the future. We live just around the corner from Portobello Road in London, but I don’t know if we will live there forever. But if I moved to the country I don’t want to move to the Cotswolds. I don’t want ‘country light’, I’d want ‘country wild’."
Now his children are slightly older, he is able to enjoy taking his family away to join him on some of his travels, including one to Africa.
"Watching my children see elephants for the first time was magical. Their reaction makes me really appreciate what I do — living in Adobe mud huts and camping out in the savannahs - I often take it for granted but it is actually mind-blowing for young children and young minds," Fogle said.
"We went camping and they loved hearing lions roar from our tent, getting muddy and cooking over an open fire. They took it in their stride."
• Ben Fogle will be speaking at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, on Monday28th September and Aberdeen Music Hall on Tuesday 29th.