Stephen James “Steve” Backshall is a BAFTA-winning English naturalist, writer and television presenter, best known for BBC TV’s Deadly 60.
Born: April 21, 1973 (age 42), Bagshot
Books: Venomous Animals of the World, Venom: Poisonour Animals in the Natural World, Venom
Steve is one of the busiest presenters on television, mainly working for the BBC’s Natural History Unit. He has had his own season of programmes on Eden television channel, alongside legends David Attenborough and Bruce Parry. Before that, he was ‘Adventurer in Residence’ at the National Geographic Channel.
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Steve has been passionate about the wild world ever since he could crawl, and, growing up, counted as his best pals the animals that lived around him – from the asthmatic donkey, to the grass snakes in the manure heap!â€¨â€¨After leaving Exeter University with a degree in English and Theatre studies, Steve studied martial arts in Japan, attaining his black belt. Over the following years, Steve wrote for the Indonesian Rough Guides and, during his travels, became conversant in the local language, drank blood with uncontacted tribes, nearly got caught in fatal crossfire in riots in East Timor, came nose to nose with Komodo Dragons, and attempted to walk solo across Irian Jaya (a woeful failure)!
In 2003, Steve moved to the BBC’s Natural History Unit, where he took his place on the long running children’s wildlife programme ‘The Really Wild Show’. The following three years were awash with wildlife highlights; sharing a beach with 75,000 nesting olive ridley turtles, having a baby mountain gorilla take him by the hand, and having a red-eyed tree frog leap into his face.
Next, Steve joined the Natural History Unit’s fledgling expedition team, making the first ascent of a jungle peak and dropping into a vast sinkhole in the Mulu mountains in ‘Expedition Borneo’. In ‘Lost Land of the Jaguar’, he made the first ascent of Mount Upuigma in Venezuela, slept on the vertical clifface, and found unknown species of animals on the summit. He also abseiled to the bottom of the Kaiteur Falls in Guyana to the soaked wonderland below.
In ‘Lost Land of the Volcano’, Steve was the first outsider to enter the Volcano Mount Bosavi – where the team discovered as many as 40 new species, including the largest rat in the world! Steve also took part in a brutal caving expedition opening up new passage in Mageni Cave in New Britain.
Other series included ‘Expedition Alaska’, where he was almost swallowed by humpback whales, and was swept into the guts of a glacier, ‘Wilderness St Kilda’, ‘Extreme Britain – Caves’, ‘Springwatch Trackers’, Nature Reports for the One Show, and ‘The Venom Hunter’, where he endured the stings of hundreds of bullet ants (the world’s most painful stinging invertebrate) in an initiation ceremony.