It all started about 40 years ago. Hopping on an Ariana Afghan DC-10 bound for India, with “very little money and very little idea of how to survive in a foreign land”, Jeremy Wade first ventured into the unknown, all for the love of fishing.
“I discovered a fish that lives in India, and I just had this idea that I would like to go and catch this fish,” British TV host, biologist and “fish sleuth” recalled to The STAR. in a recent Zoom interview.
It was the Goonch catfish, which gained a reputation as the world’s deadliest fish.
“It was a bit of a baptism by fire. It was trial and error. I just arrived and made a lot of mistakes, but managed to survive.
From this experience, Jeremy realized that there was a whole world out there teeming with remarkable creatures living in the water and waiting to be explored.
His foray into media work began with magazine articles about these fishing adventures. “Nobody wrote much about these things, nobody really showed them on television. (I thought then) Maybe in the long run there’s a job somewhere… a way to combine my interests with earning a living. “
This “turning point” led him to a career in wildlife television via shows, including the blockbuster River Monsters which spanned nine seasons, as well as Mighty Rivers and Dark Waters.
“It took a long, long time to get there. Basically I did about 25 years of unpaid research, traveling to different places. But that meant that when I finally got a TV show, I got like huge mental files of information. I have done so much research. So here we go, you know. Once he started he got a good momentum.
Jeremy, now billed as “the underwater world’s most famous explorer,” is still here with Unknown Waters.
In his brand new series, Jeremy offers an evolved version of his River Monsters and previous shows, still carrying a “sweet conservation message” as viewers don’t want to be “tight,” promising “a little more science there- in it, but not some heavy, boring science that puts people to sleep ”, and featuring“ big fish, ugly fish, dramatic fish, weird fish, exotic places, interesting people ”.
It’s putting it “lightly” though. The series actually sees Jeremy hunting down the fierce predator, the Amazon bull shark, and finding out what he can reveal about the health of the river. He also goes on a fishing trip in the Icelandic river system for another elusive fish, the Atlantic salmon. He also travels through Kenya and visits two gigantic lakes in search of one of the largest freshwater fish in the world, the giant Nile perch.
“You have three very different places, very different fish. In a way, what I’m doing is telling the story of the place through the fish, ”he said.
Jeremy further described the show as a “new take on travel”.
“The fish is what made me travel the world and that’s how I see the world in a way. The obvious ways to travel are, you know, the food is really good. The music is good. Football is good. The fish is actually a brilliant, ”he said.
“And you will always find people who are interested in fish. It’s like a subculture and these people will immediately accept you and what they will do, they will show you the place. If it was just you, alone, you would feel like a stranger. But if you are accepted by people, they show you the place. It’s a bit like a new way of seeing the world through fish, ”he added.
Jeremy traveled to the riskiest areas – he was previously arrested and suspected of spying in Southeast Asia – and faced off against the most dangerous species of fish. The COVID situation, however, posed a whole new challenge to the process of filming her show.
Originally he and his team wanted to produce a great series centered on the world’s largest river system, the Amazon, but the pandemic “came and took the world by surprise … and we couldn’t go back to Brazil. “.
“It has become a matter of, where can we go? Is there a way to get there? We look at the world, where is there a story and where can we physically, legally and safely go and film? ” he said.
“The available world is smaller. There are a lot of places we just can’t go to now. And then the ones we can go to … the process is even more complicated.
He noted how the protocols have become an additional layer of difficulty and believes these will continue as the situation still exists.
“Places are opening up, but that doesn’t mean all is well. For the television industry, luckily, this sort of continued to some extent. But, you know, doing it safely, not just for ourselves, but for the people we work with is going to continue to be a challenge and an extra thing for a while. “
The STAR asked Jeremy that if adventure is his job, then what is his idea of hobby.
He said, “Well, that’s kind of weird because I just had a vacation in France but I was fishing, I have to say. Other than that, it’s been a long time since I had a real vacation. And I feel really guilty when I say that, because people look at me and think and say, “Your whole life is a vacation. “
“But my TV shows, normally non-COVID time, are a full-time job that keeps me busy all the time. You know, in my spare time, I hesitate to admit it, but I tend to vegetate somehow. I sort of sit down and collect and recharge my batteries. I do my laundry, I read books. And I have a pretty boring time when I’m not doing the programs, ”he mused.
Meanwhile, Jeremy noted that the Philippines is still unfamiliar territory for him, which he would like to explore in the future.
“I did sort of a physical press tour a few years ago and (the Philippines) was on the list. And then for some reason it didn’t happen. But, you know, with all that water out there … Okay, it’s mostly salt water, isn’t it, it’s the sea. But with all these islands of water, I should do (visit) some time.
Unknown Waters with Jeremy Wade: Amazon River Shark preview tonight at 10am on National Geographic via CIGNAL: CH 141 (SD) | CH 240 (HD) and SKYCABLE: CH 41 (SD) | CH 195 (HD).