The year 2014 was a big one for wildlife presenter Steve Backshall .
He took part in Strictly Come Dancing , making a whole new set of unlikely celebrity friends for life.
And he also fell in love.
He met Olympic rowing champion Helen Glover at a Sport Relief event, and they married in 2016.
Last year they became the proud parents of a baby boy, Logan.
And when we meet a beaming Steve to talk about the upcoming Blue Planet Live, it’s clear he’s loving every minute of being a husband and dad.
‘I know it sounds cheesy, but it really was love at first sight for me.
I knew pretty much immediately that Helen was The One, and I think if things hadn’t worked out for us I would have really struggled.
Everything happened very quickly. We got married and now we’re parents.’
Which is why, although Steve’s thrilled with the 10 hours of programmes that will make up his forthcoming Expeditions series, he’s also gutted at the amount it’s taken him away from home.
‘It’s been strange timing to say the least,’ says 45-year-old Steve.
‘In the last year, the series has meant being away more than I have been in at least a decade.
"And it’s the year when we’ve had our first baby!
"Fatherhood has hit me hard.
"From the very first moment I met him, I’ve been totally smitten.
"And to have to go away on these long trips and expeditions is tough, although I know lots of other people go through situations like this.
"I’ve had three six-week long trips in the last few months and one of them was when Logan was only five weeks old.
"I was in the jungle and I had a brief phone call every six days or so.
"You just feel you’re missing so much.’
While Steve and Helen are thrilled with their little man, the last year brought sadness too, when Logan’s twin died while Helen, herself a twin, was carrying them.
But there’s plenty of time to add to the brood, as Helen’s only 32 – you sense Steve would love to fill their new home with kids.
‘I know, I’ve done well, haven’t I?’ laughs Steve about Helen, who’s officially been the world No 1 female rower since 2015.
‘But yes, we’d love to have more children. Helen’s one of five.’
Blue Planet Live will take Steve to the Bahamas to swim with sharks, while Liz Bonnin reports from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and Chris Packham presents from an oceanographic institute in Massachusetts, USA.
Given his previous adventures, it’s perhaps no surprise that it’s Steve doing the dangerous stuff.
But it’s not the sharks that worry him.
‘I’ve done over a thousand dives with sharks,’ admits Steve, who has thrilled a generation of children with his Deadly 60 shows, where he gets up close and personal with the most dangerous animals in the world.
‘And that element of it isn’t frightening to me.
"I’ve never felt in danger during any of those encounters, and that includes being inside a cage with great whites on many occasions.
"But diving live on TV has many possible things that can go wrong – if we have bad weather for a couple of days, or bad visibility that could make it near impossible to make the programme.
"Those are the things that scare me.’
While that doesn’t put Steve off, it does make him slightly wary…
‘The TV I make has a thrill about it, an element of the unpredictable.
"But doing a programme on BBC1 that is seen by millions of people means the potential for you to look like a complete imbecile is high!’
Daredevil Steve might not be scared of potentially life-threatening encounters, but he knows that not everyone would be so cool about his day job.
‘I don’t tell my parents too much when I am going off filming dangerous stuff,’ admits the star, who grew up in Surrey.
‘I don’t want them to worry, so I wait until I’ve done it.
"But I couldn’t do that with Helen – she would hit the roof if I tried to hide things from her!’
And Steve is thrilled that Helen and Logan will be with him for much of his time in the Bahamas.
‘They’ll be there for about 10 days and hopefully we will actually get to spend some time together,’ smiles Steve.
‘At this stage, sometimes I can go away for a weekend and come back and find that Logan is different.
He’ll have done something for the first time, taken on a different skill or behaviour that I’ve never seen before.
And I just think, “Oh! I’m missing it!”’
While rowing is still Helen’s career, she has had a go at presenting, when she and Steve filmed a series in Japan.
‘It was great, actually,’ he recalls.
‘Working with your partner could be a nightmare, but it was great for us.
"There was a particular dynamic because Helen hadn’t presented before, and I’ve been presenting for 20 years, so I felt like I needed to take care of her, and she was super excited and wanted to do her best.
"We really enjoyed it.’
While Steve’s spent two decades making wildlife programmes and is a hero to youngsters, his profile was undoubtedly boosted by his appearance on Strictly, on which he was paired with Ola Jordan and was eliminated in week eight.
‘It was an amazing experience and doing it wasn’t a hard decision to make, because I love a challenge.
"I made some great friends, like Judy Murray, Thom Evans, Sunetra Sarker and Jake Wood who were all at our wedding.
"I’m still friends with Frankie and Wayne Bridge, and we’ve been to see Pixie Lott sing.
"I met up with Judy recently, in Australia.
"There’s something very bonding about going through that experience together.
"You get so involved, and at the time it feels like the most important thing in the world.’
A recent high for Steve and Helen has been moving into the eco house they’ve had built on the Berks/Bucks border.
It’s been quite a project, and during the construction they were living on a houseboat.
‘I loved that,’ says Steve.
‘It’s good we’re off it now and in the house, as that’s more practical with a baby, but I have very happy memories of our time there.
"I’ll never forget carrying my baby son out to the side of the boat to look at the swans swimming past.’
He might have made his name getting close to scary creatures, but these days, nothing’s going to top Steve’s role as dad.
‘Every second I spend with my family is precious.
"The other day I walked into the room and it was the first time Logan seemed to respond to me.
"He had a big grin on his face and it was absolutely the best feeling.’
HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR SUNDAY?
■ How did you spend last Sunday?
I’ve just had a week off, which never happens, and it was a lovely Sunday going down to Devon with our families, and just spending a nice relaxed time with them.
■ Lie-in or up with the lark?
I’m always up early, it’s just the way I am, and Helen is the same.
I don’t think we’ve ever had a lie-in, not even on honeymoon!
Does that sound bad?
Now we’ve got a baby, 6am feels like a lie-in to me.
■ Hangover or fresh as a daisy?
Fresh as a daisy. I’m not much of a drinker and Helen doesn’t drink at all being an athlete.
These days I tend to start the day with a spinach and spirulina smoothie, which looks like pond water and doesn’t taste much better, but it’s good for me.
■ Reading the papers or watching TV?
Neither really, we’d always rather be out and about.
Before Logan was born we’d go out in a kayak.
Now we might be out walking, with him strapped into a baby carrier.
■ Pub lunch or Sunday roast at home?
To be honest, a Sunday roast doesn’t appeal much to me, at home or in a pub, as I’m a veggie.
We mostly eat at home, and like to cook Asian food, like Thai, Indian or Vietnamese.
We both love our food, but nothing could prepare me for the amount rowers eat!
■ What is your ideal Sunday?
Spending time with friends and family.
In the evenings we don’t watch much TV, but we play board games.
Helen’s twin brother is really into them.
We’ll play Bananagrams or Pandemic, a nerdy game that goes on for hours!
– Blue Planet Live runs from Sunday 24 March, BBC1, 8pm. Blue Planet UK also runs across the week.
Source: Read Full Article