Naturalist Steve Backshall on tour in Queensland this week

Adventurer and TV presenter Steve Backshall at the top of the worlds highest waterfall, Angel Falls, in the Canaima National Park in Venezuela.
Adventurer and TV presenter Steve Backshall at the top of the worlds highest waterfall, Angel Falls, in the Canaima National Park in Venezuela. Ben Lawrie

STEVE Backshall has a long and a short answer for the question his fans most often ask.

The naturalist and TV presenter, best known as the host of the popular children's wildlife show Deadly 60, says viewers most often want to know his favourite animal.

"If I was to try to explain properly it would take my longer than to simply say my favourite animal is a wolf," he tells ARM.

"The real answer is I'm a naturalist and I study the natural world for a living and I don't have any favourites. I have lots of animals I find exciting for many different reasons. But by the time I've gone through that most kids' faces are glazing over by then."

Backshall was blown away by the response to his first ever Australian tour, which sold out last year.

"I hadn't toured outside of the UK until then; that was the first tour I'd done overseas," Backshall says.

"I've been to Australia for filming lots and I lived in Sydney for six months as well when I first got started in television a long time ago now.

"We had so much fun we thought we'll just come straight back and do it again."

The popular children's presenter is back in the country with a new show based on his hit BBC series Deadly 60 Pole to Pole.

Naturalist and TV presenter Steve Backshall in a scene from his TV series Deadly 60 Pole to Pole.
Naturalist and TV presenter Steve Backshall in a scene from his TV series Deadly 60 Pole to Pole. Nikki Waldron


"I spent 15 months traveling from the Arctic down to the Antarctic, so the show will feature lots of creatures from the biggest to the smallest to the most venomous," he says.

"The most exciting bits of the expedition were the Arctic and Antarctic because they're so out there.

"You get there and there's no vegetation or trees. It's just ice and snow and rock, and it does feel almost like an alien planet.

"It's so different to anywhere else on Earth and the animals that live there have to be incredibly hardy and very robust." Moments like diving underneath an jade green iceberg with a leopard seal flashing its teeth into my camera were so special."

Backshall's talks are designed to be interactive to appeal to his diverse fan base, ranging from children as young as three to their grandparents.

"You have to find a way of speaking that works for everyone," he says.

"If I just talk as if I'm talking to my peers with a descent amount of science then the kids get it. Kids are smart and used to learning, and they're used to not knowing everything.

"There are lots of chances for people to ask questions because that's a huge part of coming along to a show like this, and there are lots of bits where they can shout out the names of animals and how deadly they think things are."

This time Backshall will also have his new wife, Olympic rower Helen Glover, along for the ride.

"We're in the middle of a British winter. It is about 1 or 2C outside, and it's grey and wet and miserable," he says. "She's very much looking forward to getting down there and possibly doing some rowing."

Backshall's latest adventure, which will air on the ABC this year, sees him return to Papua New Guinea. On a previous visit to the country for his series Lost Land of the Volcano he discovered half a dozen new species near the crater of Mount Bosavi.

"This new expedition is a white-water kayaking expedition to run the Markham River from source to sea," he says.

"It is proper wild country."

Steve Backshall's Deadly 60 Pole to Pole plays at QPAC's Concert Hall this Wednesday and Thursday. Tickets start from $49. For more information go to the QPAC website.

Topics:  qpac television

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