Steve Backshall

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Steve Backshall
Backshall after enduring a rite of passage by bullet ants
BornStephen James Backshall
(1973-04-21) 21 April 1973 (age 39)
Surrey, UK
OccupationNaturalist, Writer, Presenter
Known forBBC Deadly 60 Program
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Steve Backshall
Backshall after enduring a rite of passage by bullet ants
BornStephen James Backshall
(1973-04-21) 21 April 1973 (age 39)
Surrey, UK
OccupationNaturalist, Writer, Presenter
Known forBBC Deadly 60 Program
Steve with hippo in South Africa

Stephen James Backshall (born 21 April 1973) is a British naturalist, writer and television presenter, best known for BBC TV's Deadly 60. This series sees Backshall travelling the world in search of predators that are, "Not just deadly to me, but deadly in their own world". He has dived with great white, bull, great hammerhead and tiger sharks, caught king cobras, black mambas and lanceheads, had a redback spider crawl across his hand and was bitten on screen by a caiman whilst searching for anaconda in an Argentinian swamp.[1] They are currently filming the fourth season of the series, which is transmitted on Nat Geo Wild, Animal Planet and BBC worldwide. He has also presented The Really Wild Show, Lost Land of the Volcano, Lost Land of the Tiger,[2] Lost Land of the Jaguar, Expedition Alaska, Wilderness St Kilda and Expedition Borneo, and National Geographic Channel's EarthPulse series.

In 2010 and 2011 Backshall went on the road with the "Live n Deadly" tour, travelling to 20 destinations around the UK, with the aim of inspiring kids to get into adventure, the outdoors and wildlife. As many as 35,000 people applied for tickets to each day to see Backshall answer questions on wildlife, and the biggest single crowd was 14,000 people.[3]


Early Life

Backshall's parents worked for airlines and he grew up on a smallholding with a menagerie of pets.[4] He backpacked around India and Africa at a young age and studied English and Theatre Studies at the University of Exeter.[5]



"Lost Land of the Tiger" for BBC One saw the expedition team travel to Bhutan, and discover a new population of Bengal tigers, living higher in the Himalayas than had ever been recorded before.[6] In "Lost Land of the Volcano", Backshall led the first expedition ever to enter extinct Mount Bosavi in Papua New Guinea, where they discovered new species of cuscus, frogs and giant rat, the biggest on earth.[7] They also uncovered miles of passage in a cave system in New Britain. In 2007, the BBC expedition team headed to Guyana for "Lost Land of the Jaguar", during which Backshall took part in the first expedition ever to successfully climb Mount Upuigma,.[8] On the summit they discovered an endemic species of frog and mouse, and also footprints of an unidentified mammal. He also filmed Extreme Caving for BBC One with Kate Humble and Secret Wilderness Japan for BBC Two. During this time he also presented Nature Reports for the BBC's The One Show.[9] On-air adventures in 2006 included Sky One’s Inside the King Cobra and the BBC's Expedition Borneo, where the team went in search of new species. Steve was the first person ever to explore the caves below a mighty sinkhole in the Mulu mountains of Borneo.

For National Geographic International, Backshall presented the expedition series Game For It and the environmental series EarthPulse. For Bootcamp, he completed the Israeli special forces selection course, running 60 miles overnight to gain their red beret. UK television viewers saw him travelling up Australia’s east coast from Tasmania to Cape Tribulation for his first series of The Really Wild Show. In the next series he then went on to travel around Central America, the Galapagos, and then Southern Africa for the last ever series in 2006. He competed with fellow naturalist Nick Baker in a series of wildlife challenges, with long-standing host Michaela Strachan.

Between 28 May and 15 June 2007, Backshall co-presented Springwatch Trackers alongside Kirsten O'Brien. Transmitted live on BBC Two from the Springwatch farm in Devon, teams of boys and girls were set a series of Tracker challenges. In 2013, Backshall presented a series on BBC Four called "Nature's Microworlds".


Backshall began working as a writer for publisher Rough Guides, and is an author on their Indonesia guide.[10] He continues to contribute to British newspapers. His book Venom: Poisonous Creatures in the Natural World was published in 2007, and is a scientific analysis of venoms and poisons, with an in-depth look at animals that use natural toxins.[11] Deadly 60 is the book of series one, and is a diary style breakdown of each animal and how they were found and filmed.[12] Wildlife Adventurer's Guide was published in 2009. It is aimed at young naturalists, and provides a guide to having adventures in the UK.[13] In 2011 he released "Looking for Adventure", which was the story of his many expeditions in New Guinea, including much about his childhood and how he got into television. "Predators", also in Orion Publishing breaks down predatory animals into their main features, and is highly illustrated.[14] In May 2012 the first of a series of fiction novels entitled "The Falcon Chronicles" was published. The first novel is called "Tiger Wars". It is about the adventures of a young boy and girl on the run, against the background of the war on tiger poaching; 'in the spirit of Willard Price for today's youngsters'.[15] Tiger Wars has been nominated for the Branford Boase award. [16] The second in the series is called "Ghosts of the Forest, and will be released in 2013. [17] In 2012 he also released "Deadly Diaries" with Orion publishers. It is a diary style book of series III Deadly 60.

Rock climbing and other sports

Backshall on the first ascent of Upuigma

Backshall is a rock climber and mountaineer, does adventure races, fell runs and endurance sports. He has climbed such peaks as Cho Oyu 8201m, Cholatse and is an advanced Himalayan Expedition leader. He ran the Marathon des Sables 243 km across the Sahara desert[18] in 2005 to raise money for the Wolftrust[19] Backshall has a black belt in judo, attained after a year living in Japan studying the martial art.[20] kayaked the Devizes to Westminster canoe race which involves kayaking 125 miles down the river Thames in 24 hours,[21] and has competed in the Tough Guy race over ten times with a best finish of ninth.[22]

In July 2008, Backshall fell 10m onto rocks at the Wye Valley in the Forest of Dean after attempting to climb a steep cliff face which was wet from an earlier rainfall. The impact sent his heel bone through the bottom of his foot, dislocated his ankle and fractured two vertebrae in his back.[23]


In 2011, Backshall won two BAFTAs; best Children's Television Presenter, and Best Factual series.[24] In 2009 and 2013, Backshall was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Children's Television Presenter, and his series Deadly 60 was nominated for Best Children's series. Additionally he was nominated for Best Factual series for Lost Land of the Jaguar,[25] as well as being nominated for an Emmy in the US for Expedition Borneo. Steve also was awarded a PhD from the University of Exeter in July 2012 where he once studied.

With boa constrictor


  1. ^ Davies, Ella (2010-11-11). "BBC - Earth News - Caiman attacks wildlife presenter filming in Argentina". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
  2. ^ BBC expedition stories
  3. ^ "CBBC - Live 'n' Deadly". BBC. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
  4. ^ The Guardian Steve Backshall Interview. Retrieved 10 March 2013
  5. ^ The Complete University Guide, Exeter. Retrieved 10 March 2013
  6. ^ Walker, Matt (2010-09-20). "BBC - Earth News - Lost tiger population discovered in Bhutan mountains". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
  7. ^ BBC Earth News
  8. ^ "Conquering a virgin", The Times, November 11, 2007
  9. ^ Jo Sarsby Management: Steve Backshall
  10. ^ Rough-Guide Indonesia
  11. ^ New Holland Publishers. ISBN 978-1-84537-734-2
  12. ^ Backshall's Deadly 60
  13. ^ New Holland Publishers Wildlife Adventure's Guide
  14. ^ "Orion Children's Books to publish action-packed Steve Backshall books". Orion Books. 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
  15. ^ Tiger Wars (Hardback). "Tiger Wars - 9781444004380". Orion Books. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ [2]
  18. ^ "Marathon des Sables Introduction". 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
  19. ^ Wolftrust
  20. ^ Backshall
  21. ^ Electricwebsites - Essex, UK - 0203 0159099. "Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon". Retrieved 2012-05-29.
  22. ^ [3][dead link]
  23. ^ Daily Mail Backshall Breaks 25ft Fall
  24. ^ "2011 British Academy Children's Awards Winners - Children's - Awards - The BAFTA site". 2011-11-24.,2169,BA.html. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
  25. ^ BAFTA Nominations

External links