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Viewers will also see Reeve spear-fishing, dining in an underwater restaurant, visiting a five-star palace housing refugees and having close encounters with amazing wildlife, including penguins, dolphins, elephants and manta rays.

Not bad for a London lad who started out stacking shelves for Waitrose and was turned down for a job as a white-van driver before getting his big break in 1990, as a post boy at The Sunday Times before working his way to his current job, one thousands of people would love to do.

“It is a privilege and it is exciting,“ he says. “What I get to do is what any traveller would like to do. They don’t just want to go sit by a pool and squander their hard-earned holiday. They want to do things, see things and meet people – and I’m really blessed to be able to do it.“ 

Reeve says the desire to learn drives him, and it’s that attitude which led him to go scuba diving for the first time – in a shark cage off South Africa. “We travelled from Cape Town to Zanzibar, and one of the reccurring themes was sharks and how we are terrified of them but are actually annihilating them,” he says.

“So I had a rapid introduction to them. I was quite nervous, but I was also thinking, ’Is the camera in the right position? Is the lighting OK? Oh my god, there’s a shark coming!’ You do think when you’re being filmed that there’s some sort of force field that protects you, which is, of course, ridiculous – the camera will just be capturing your last moments if something takes a chomp on you.“

It’s that concept of a force field, the notion that the camera somehow offers protection – a barrier between him and the dangers in which he finds himself – that Reeve refers to when stumbling upon a drug den in South Africa.

Investigating poachers targeting a rare shellfish called abalone, and selling them to gangs in China and the Far East, led the crew to Cape Town, where it was discovered that, instead of doing it for cash, payment was being made in the form of a drug known as “tik“.

He says: “We walked into a township and were told where to find find a guy who had a tik problem. We walked into a house and I thought, ’Oh, it’s a drug HQ’, and there was a guy getting ready to do some crack with at least one gun by his side.


Interview: Simon Reeve tells TNT about his travels for new BBC show
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