Published: 14/10/2015 13:28 - Updated: 14/10/2015 14:09

Wild adventurer Steve feels at home in Inverness

Steve Backshall, if not his feathered friend, returns to Eden Court this week.
Steve Backshall, if not his feathered friend, returns to Eden Court this week.

STEVE Backshall gets around.

Recently seen diving with California sea lions and looking for blue whales on BBC One’s Big Blue Live, he could as easily be found climbing ice falls in the Arctic or kayaking down jungle rivers in quest of adventure and discovering nature’s secrets for shows such as Deadly 60 and The Really Wild show or the Lost Land of... series for older viewers.

Yet for all his exotic travels, it seems he always looks forward to adding Inverness to the itinerary for his love stage show.

"We’ve visited Inverness on every tour that we’ve done because it is, without exception, the best destination that we go to," Backshall said.

"It’s been the friendliest, it’s been the best organised, and we’ve just had the best time doing it."

The good time did not end when he left Eden Court, thanks to an invitation to sample the Highlands’ nightlife rather than its wildlife.

"We ended up in Hootananny’s until God knows what time in the morning and ended up eating kebab, watching the sun coming up over the river. It was just absolute joy," Backshall declared.

However, he has learned not to cast doubt on the existence of Nessie in front of an Eden Court audience.

"I’ve learned my lesson!" he laughed.

"I’m not going to do the scientific answer to that question again! I’ll be much more circumspect this time round!"

Backshall’s latest stage show, the Wild World Tour, will use film clips and photos to take his Eden Court audience to some less familiar locations.

"It’s going to be about expeditions to mountains, the Arctic, the Antarctic, to jungles," he said.

Steve will use film clips to bring his life of adventure in the great outdoors into the theatre.
Steve will use film clips to bring his life of adventure in the great outdoors into the theatre.

"It’s about what life is like on expeditions, trying to find new places, climb new mountains, take light onto places that have never seen it before and discover new species of animals, with lots of opportunity for the audience to bombard me with questions about the natural world."

It is on those expeditions that Backshall says he is at his best and happiest.

"The excitement of not knowing what’s going to happen next is the best way of spending life," he added.

But he also enjoys his theatre tours, which give him a chance to meet the public, some of whom have gone on to share Backshall’s passion for the natural world.

"Having been doing this for 16 odd years, and hearing young people say ‘I’m studying zoology because of watching your programmes as a kid’, there is nothing that can compare to that incredible sensation that in some small way, you have made a change to people’s lives," he said.

Backshall was speaking while awaiting visa clearance to go Venezuela where he was planning to climb unexplored mountains and look for undiscovered animals in the wild terrain where Arthur Conan Doyle set his dinosaur hunter story The Lost World.

"It’s five or six days sleeping out on portaledges, climbing very physically demanding climbs every second of every day, but the more important mission is what we find on top," he pointed out.

"A lot of people will be disappointed if we don’t find a dinosaur, but because these mountain tops are so isolated, if we find something that cannot fly, the chances are that it will be new to science."

Steve acknowledges a special fascination with the reptile family.
Steve acknowledges a special fascination with the reptile family.

However, there is a whole other television audience who might be more familiar with Backshall in spangly shirts rather than climbing gear following his appearance on Strictly Come Dancing last year.

"It took a bit of convincing to get me to say yes to that, but it ended up being a pretty incredible adventure," he admitted.

"I have met friends I would never make in my normal life. Where would I meet someone like Jake Wood from EastEnders? Yet he’s turned out to be a really good friend. I’ve had the opportunity of taking him climbing and Pixie Lott coming and watching me talk about science while I’ve gone and watched her sing."

Backshall and his Strictly partner Ola Jordan lasted until week nine of the contest, do not expect to see him practicing his dance moves any time soon.

"You learn how to do a specific dance to a specific song with a specific partner. Take away any of those things and I probably wouldn’t have a clue, so I haven’t danced since and I probably won’t again," he said.

Backshall has plenty to keep him occupied without dancing. He is completing his Master’s Degree and last month announced his engagement to Olympic Gold Medal winning rower Helen Glover.

"I think I will spend more time in the UK. We would love to start a family and that is in my future somewhere," he said.

That does not mean his world travels are over. Far from it.

"I’ve been to 105 countries in the world and there are about 260," he said.

"I haven’t really scratched the surface."

• Steve Backshall’s Wild World Tour comes to Eden Court on Thursday 15th October at 7pm.

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