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“So we were sat down with these gangsters who kept coming in and introducing themselves as, ’This is my right-hand man, he’s called Killer’ and, ’this is Blade, he’s just been released from prison’. I’m thinking, ’We need to get out of here!’. Then they started hassling us, saying we needed to pay them, so we bailed. I’m not a nervy type but I do feel 
the force field is on when we’re filming.“

And it’s handy that Reeve does have this, at least imaginary, protection, as the dangerous situations keep finding him – or perhaps it’s the other way around.

He openly admits to being scared – who wouldn’t be? – citing the front line in Mogadishu as one of his most hair-raising situations to date, but he’s still humble about the experience.

“We had flak jackets on and we were being protected – it’s not like fighting on the Somme or anything; we weren’t in excessive danger, but it was an active conflict,“ he says. “

There was a moment when a sniper was shooting over our heads ... and the shockwave was quite something; a large calibre bullet passing too close to a human can shed the skin. 

“It knocked me off my feet. In that split-second, I didn’t know what was going on and whether it was an incoming or an outgoing and that was terrifying.“ But far from being deterred, these precarious situations seem only to fuel Reeve’s desire to travel. He even admits it’s “perverse“ but says the country he’d most like to return to is Mogadishu, the epicentre of piracy in the Indian Ocean.

“We met with pirates – they were in prison at the time. One of them was complaining about his hemorrhoids,“ he laughs.

“They initially went to sea because people were illegally fishing in their waters. But now it’s a massive business, – they’re torturing and killing people and holding hundreds of people hostage now. It’s an awful situation.“

The force field, though, can’t shield Reeve from the scenes of deprivation and suffering – he insists the faces of some he’s met along his travels have stayed with him.


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