Goodreads blurb: “TV documentary maker Simon Reeve has dodged bullets on front lines, hunted with the Bushmen of the Kalahari, dived with manta rays, seals and sharks, survived malaria, walked through minefields, tracked lions on foot, been taught to fish by the President of Moldova, and detained for spying by the KGB. After a decade spent making more than 80 programmes he has become a familiar face on British TV, well known for his extraordinary journeys across jungles, deserts, mountains and oceans, and to some of the most beautiful, dangerous and remote regions of the world. But what most people don’t know is that Simon’s own journey started in a rough area of Acton, West London where he was brought up and left school with no qualifications. For the first time he will tell his life story with a book rich in anecdotes to entertain and inform readers about some of the most fascinating (and often dangerous) places in the world and what it took to reach them.”
I’ve always enjoyed Simon Reeve’s BBC documentaries, so as soon as I knew that this book was being published, I had to get copy, especially on audio as he reads it himself.
If you’ve watched any of his travel documentaries, you’ll remember his enthusiasm for meeting new people and travelling to dangerous countries around the world. He always comes across as excited and full of life with not a worry in the world. This book opens up his early life to reveal a completely different person who struggled with mental health issues and problems with his father’s authority as a teenager, something that you’d never imagine from his on screen personae.
He was so open about these issues that I wanted to give him a big hug and tell him everything would be okay. He talks about how desperately depressed he was, how disinterested he was with school and his future.
His account of how he got lucky with a job as The Times mail boy and how he progressed on the paper was fascinating. As was his research for his book “The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden, and the Future of Terrorism” that sank without a trace in 1999.
The stories of his first travel documentaries were really interesting revealing how he wanted to be more Michael Palin than Alan Wicker on TV.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough, especially if you too have enjoyed Simon’s travel documentaries.