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Since he first appeared on our screens in Castaway, Ben has rowed an ocean with James Cracknell, lived in Scott’s hut and joined Prince William in Botswana. He has also driven in Peru with a tense Hugh Dennis. The self-styled Accidental Adventurer has one big ambition remaining – to swim the Atlantic.
Ben first captured viewers’ hearts on the groundbreaking BBC millennium project Castaway, in which a very diverse group of volunteers spent a year marooned on the island of Taransay in the Outer Hebrides.
Ben has since led teams of would-be explorers on the journey of a lifetime for Extreme Dreams and Extreme Andes, testing each to the limit in some of the world’s harshest environments. His other TV credits range from Countryfile and Animal Park to films recording Prince William’s visit to Botswana, and a month spent in Scott’s hut in the Antarctic.
Ever one to take on a challenge, Ben famously teamed up with the double Olympic oarsman James Cracknell for the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race - crossing 2935 miles of dangerous water between San Sebastien and Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua. The film and book chronicling the adventure showed the pair’s physical and psychological trials as they battled hurricanes, the loss of their water maker, a capsize and sheer loneliness. They fought, wept, hallucinated, grew beards and nursed each others’ blisters, and still managed to set a British record.
The pair have since raced to the South Pole and ridden a rickshaw non-stop from Edinburgh to London. Despite James’s appalling accident in training for the duo’s attempt to cycle the length of the US, they undertook a trek across the so-called Empty Quarter, the world’s largest sand desert.
As well as newspaper and magazine columns, Ben has written four books. The Teatime Islands investigates the last outposts of the British Empire, like Tristan da Cunha. In Offshore he travels to some of the remotest but most fascinating parts of the British Isles.
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It’s hard to imagine that Ben fell into being an adventurer by accident. As he talks about his projects, what becomes clear is his passion and determination – as well as his boundless natural charm. He leaves you thinking that one day you might be able to row across the Atlantic yourself! JLA Agent Andrew Stoney
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