Award-winning broadcaster, adventurer, author and UN Patron of the Wilderness, Ben Fogle is a national treasure. We speak to Ben, alumnus of Bryanston School, about how it all began
Tell us about your time at Bryanston and did it impact on your future career?
Bryanston gave me the confidence to follow my dreams. I wasn’t sporting nor academic but Bryanston gave me the chance to be who I am not what the state wants me to be.
Were your school days happy?
I was desperately homesick for the first year. Debilitatingly so, but I persevered with the help of my housemaster Mr Long and then it turned into the best experience of my life. I loved it. My Bryanston friends are still some of my closest friends.
Have you always loved nature and animals?
I have always loved nature and animals. The son of a vet instilled a love of animals and summers spent in Canada created a love for the wilderness.
Is there one person in your life who has inspired you the most?
My parents are my greatest role models. My mother has worked hard all her life as an actress and has a great work ethic. My father too has worked all his life caring for animals.
What made you decide to do Castaway 2000?
I was looking for adventure. I had just graduated from university. I was still living at home and I loved the idea of living as Robinson Crusoe for a whole year. It seemed like an amazing opportunity.
What was the hardest part of being on Taransay?
Being cut off from the rest of the world. We had no phones, emails or visitors. It was hard being away from friends and family.
What was the lowest moment of your many great adventures?
I’ve had plenty of tough moments. The time we capsized while rowing across the Atlantic. When we found ourselves on a crevasse field in Antarctica and oxygen bottle failures on Everest.
Your most rewarding challenge?
I think the Atlantic Row was one of the toughest and therefore most rewarding of my challenges.
Your toughest expedition?
They are all tough in their own way. Everest was dangerous. The Atlantic was monotonous and Antarctica was a war of attrition.
What is the most frightened you have ever been?
Swimming with Wild Crocodiles in Botswana without a cage or chain mail was terrifying.
What is the worst thing you’ve had to eat?
I have eaten most things. Surstromming must rate as the worst thing. I can’t even stand the smell. It still makes me wretch.
Which three characters would you most like to be castaway with fictional, alive or dead?
Attenborough, Palin and Castro.
Is there one item you always take everywhere with you?
I always travel with marmite.
Which TV show did you enjoy making the most?
The Secrets of Scott’s Hut and Make Me a New Face were highlights.
How do you relax?
Walking with my family and dogs in the British countryside.
How do you inspire children to get outdoors and explore?
By storytelling. Sharing my tales and getting them excited for the natural world.
Which charities and causes are close to your heart?
I’m UN Patron of the Wilderness and ambassador for The British Red Cross and WWF.
What drives you on?
I strive to add life to my days not days to my life.
Your motto for life?
If you haven’t failed you haven’t been trying hard enough.
Next mountain to climb?
I’m launching my first children’s book and also going on a Tales from the Wilderness UK tour in February/March.
Ben’s new book Mr Dog and the Rabbit Habit is available from this March at bookstores nationwide.