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[InC-terview] Pole to Pole Adventure with Deadly 60's Steve Backshall

By Freddy  /  26 Dec 2016 (Monday)

Steve Backshall is best known for his popular children’s TV show Deadly 60, in which he tracks down the world’s most deadly animals. He has swum with sharks, been bitten by a caiman lizard and has come face to face with some of the most venomous snakes on the planet. This time, though, he came face to face with InCinemas for a non-deadly interview.

Steve has travelled the world from North Pole to South Pole to allow us to learn about various dangerous animals. Now he will again travel the world to share his insights with the world’s deadliest creatures: humans. After a sold-out Australian tour this year, he will be coming to Singapore next year on his show, Deadly 60 Live! Pole to Pole.

Deadly 60 Live! Pole to Pole
Date: 3-5 Feb 2017
Fri: 10am
Sat & Sun: 2pm
Venue: MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands
Ticket Price: $30 - $70 (A Reserve ticket includes a Meet and Greet with Steve)

Purchase your tickets here!

InCinemas: Hi Steve, could you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Steve: Sure, my name is Steve Backshall. I am a naturalist, which means that I study the natural world for a living. And I’ve been lucky enough to be doing this for around 18 years in television now. I started with the National Geographic, 1998, as their adventurer-in-residence, which is very grand job title. And I’ve been doing it ever since, working mostly now for the BBC for their natural history unit, which is the same area of BBC that makes the David Ashenberg program, you see the Planet Earth-type shows.

But most of the programs that I do, are under a brand called Deadly. And deadly does not mean dangerous. So it’s not about animals that are dangerous to us as human beings. It’s about animals that are deadly in their own world, to other animals. So while I may feature great white sharks or tigers or venomous snakes, I might be just as likely to feature birds of prey or some insects like dragonflies that have no impact whatsoever on human health. It’s all about the fascinating ways that predators interact with their prey.

InCinemas: So you have been doing this for 18 years, right? What sparks your interest in animals?
Steve: I think that most people are born with an innate fascination for wildlife. And it kind of makes sense that we would, you know. If you look at our ancestors ten thousand years ago, twenty thousand years ago, wanting and needing to know how the wildlife functions would have been essential for life. It would be essential for making sure that you have something to eat, because you would be catching and killing animals, potentially trying to domesticate animals, having animals as friends, or managing to make sure you don’t get eaten or stampeded and stomped upon.

There are a lot of things that are in our primal past that I think we still have somewhere deep in the back of our brain as an interest. And I see it over and over again, especially with young people when I take animals to a school, for example. You can see that there is a lot of instant interest from almost all kids.

Photo Credit: BASE Entertainment Asia

InCinemas: What is the deadliest animal that you have encountered?
Steve: So to us as human beings, it’s the mosquito. By miles, by absolutely miles. So if you look at all the world’s kinds of big cats they might kill a couple hundreds of people around the world. All of the world’s species of sharks kill fewer than ten people around the world. And then you have mosquitoes, because of Japanese encephalitis, dengue fever, malaria, might kill 2.5 million people.

InCinemas: What can fans of the TV show, the Deadly show, expect to see in this show?
Steve: It’s live show. It’s about pole-to-pole expedition. So travelling from the Arctic to the Antarctic, travelling to as many different environments as possible. So from Arctic tundra to rainforest to to deserts to oceans, encountering all the animals that live there. And it’s very much a way of trying to understand how animals fit into their environment, how they connected to the environments they live in, but also to get a better understanding of our planet and how those different ecosystems live together.

Photo Credit: BASE Entertainment Asia

InCinemas: You are doing this live now. So how is this different doing this on the stage in front of an audience as opposed to in the wild in front of the camera?
Steve: It couldn’t be more different. It is such a different experience. You know, normally it’s just me, about three or four other people, in the forest in the middle of nowhere. And that’s where I’m most comfortable and where I’m also at my best. I find it a little overwhelming being in front of, you know, 2,500 people in a theatre.

But what’s great about that is it gives me a lot of opportunity to interact with the audience and for them to ask me questions to find out about the things that they would like to know about wildlife. And for me to try to give them as many answers as I can. And to do my best to try and take them there, to try to take people to some of these really exotic out-there places that they might never have a chance to visit themselves.

InCinemas: So you prefer to be in the wild than on the stage?
Steve: I prefer being in the wild than anything! I prefer to be in the wild than to be in the city or to be at home, you know. That’s where I’m at my most happy.

Photo Credit: BASE Entertainment Asia

InCinemas: What’s the most fun part of the job?
Steve: I love waking up every morning and rolling out of my hammock, opening the door, and not knowing what’s gonna happen, not knowing what that day is gonna hold. No two days have ever been the same, every single day of the last 18 years, something new and different and challenging has happened. And I love that uncertainty of never knowing what the day is gonna hold.

InCinemas: What challenges did you face in your 18 years of experience?
Steve: So I do a lot of expeditions, trying to go to places that people have not been to before. My last expedition was try to paddle the length of a river, try to climb mountains that have not been ascended before, to take the first light into the darkness into caves that have not been explored before. And all of those environments hold physical challenges. Challenges that are very difficult for us to get over as human beings. But it’s always been worthwhile. It’s always been something that provides adventure and great achievement. I consider myself very very lucky to do what I do for a living.

InCinemas: You have travelled a lot. So what’s your favourite place that you have been to?
Steve: I love this part of the world. So I spent a lot of time in Singapore, in Malaysia, in Indonesia. My first proper job was working in Indonesia. I probably spent the best part of 2 years there. So it’s a part of the world that is very diverse, where there is an immense meeting of cultures but also an incredible biodiversity as well. So the wildlife in this part of the world is naturally very very exciting.

It’s also a place that’s incredibly important for biogeography as well, you know, the whole idea of the world is lined and how Australasian and Asian wildlife is very different and how the continents fit together historically and presently. Plus, incredibly important for anthropology and the movement of people across the world. It’s a place that has so much fascination for someone like me.

Photo Credit: BASE Entertainment Asia

InCinemas: What have you learnt so far from your experience? What’s your biggest takeaway?
Steve: The biggest takeaway. Hmm. I think my biggest epiphany has been that nothing in nature makes any sense without evolution. All of a sudden, once you get to really understand evolution by natural selection, every single thing you see in wildlife leads back to it or comes from it. And it is a way that all of a sudden turns every single day into a detective story and turns into, every time you look at an animal, instead of just going “Oh, that’s pretty.” or “That’s interesting.” you go “Oh! What the hell that evolved?” And you start piecing together animal that you’ve ever seen based on that one startling remarkable idea.

InCinemas: Could you share one of such discoveries that you had?
Steve: So I’ve been lucky enough to be on expeditions where we have discovered completely new species, animals that are as yet unknown to science. On one particular expedition, we went to the inside of an extinct volcano in New Guinea that no outsiders have ever explored before. Almost all the animals that we found on the inside were new species, including the world’s biggest species of rat. It’s a giant woolly rat, it’s that big (stretches arms), it’s the size of a dog, never before seen by science. And moments like that are the things that I will be remembering of my deathbed.

InCinemas: What message do you hope the audience will come back with after watching the show?
Steve: First and foremost, it is a big adventure and a big thrill and I hope they will be very excited. But there is so much that you can learn from a journey this big because it has completely spanned the planet. It’s gone through any conceivable environment. And so, particularly for the young people, it will give them perspective of what our planet looks like like, all the different environments that we have, and the different animals that live in them and how those interact with other animals around them. And I think all of that stuff is absolutely vital.
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