Steve Backshall is no stranger to the dangers of the elements, but he has admitted he went “a step too far” on his new series and almost drowned in a kayak accident.
Backshall was filming his new, 10-part series for Dave, entitled Expedition with Steve Backshall, when he and his crew got into trouble while kayaking down an uncharted river in Bhutan.
The 46-year-old naturalist “chanced it” in paddling through some rapids and over a waterfall, where his kayak was sucked under by a whirlpool.
Sal Montgomery, an expert white water kayaker on the team, was able to paddle upstream and throw the experienced presenter a rope.
Backshall said the accident was a “seminal moment” and was part of “too many close calls” while filming the new series.
He became a father for the first time last year with his wife - Olympic rowing champion Helen Glover.
He told the Daily Mirror: “I’d enough time to understand that I had no strength left and was drowning.
“I realised it was how it ends, how I was going to die.
“I had time to think through the impact, that I would never get to see my baby son grow up.
“There will always be a little part of me that owes everything to Sal.”
Backshall said his attitude to pushing the boundaries on his documentaries has changed in the wake of his son’s birth, as well as his near-death experience while filming his new show.
He said: “Some viewers will say the danger elements are hyped up. I understand why.
“The American versions of this type of adventure documentary are scripted dramas and every bit of them is contrived. They have huge budgets, huge crews.
“But the jeopardy we experienced filming Expedition was real.
“There were several close calls. There were moments that made us glad to be alive.”
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Backshall rose to fame on CBBC wildlife programme The Really Wild Show and subsequently hosted Deadly 60, in which he attempted to find the world’s most dangerous animals.
He has recently spoken out about plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.
Expedition with Steve Backshall begins airing from Sunday on Dave.