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Wednesday 08 February 2017

Going On A Bear Hunt: TV World Traveller Ian Wright Takes A Tough Boat To The Artic

With his hearty cackle and ever-ready ability to crack a joke, TV world traveller Ian Wrightis truly living the dream. But he"ll need his wits about him on his next adventure, as he ventures deep into the Arctic in search of colder climates, cod and carnivorous critters.

In a lot of ways, Ian Wright isn't your typical TV traveller; he didn't get his first televised gig until he was 28, and he sure isn't going to be found out for feigning his expeditions while secretly living in the lap of luxury off-camera. 

Wright's unique brand of infectiously enthusiastic exploration has made him a firm favourite since his time on Globe Trekker , and his newest adventure on Travel Channel's aptly-titled Tough Boats saw the Suffolk-born Wright land himself aboard a working trawler in the middle of the coldest part of the Pacific.

Thankfully for Wright, the choppy seas didn't pose as much of a problem to him as they might to the average landlubber – and he was determined to put forward a good showing for our little island's proud maritime history.

"If you're on a fishing trawler in the Bering Sea, the freezing Arctic, for two weeks then seasickness wouldn't bode well - that's the worst thought," he laughs. 

"Because I've done a few little boat trips I thought I'd just see how it went, I thought I was being stupid but in the end I had quite good sea legs. 

"The director felt bad for a little while because it was very up and down, but the mad thing is you look at that water going up and down like that and all the trawler-men were like 'Oh this is nothing darling, don't worry about this! This is calm!""

Those hardened seafarers didn't just teach Wright and the crew about what does or does not constitute a maelstrom, but they also opened his eyes to the finer points of what we in Britain might consider common ocean cuisine.

"Cod for me is the most boring fish on the plate," the 51-year-old declares. "I love fish and chips but it's more about the batter and the chips and all that. But cod is just this white, rubbery nonsense - it's flavourless. 

"And I asked the trawler-men what the best fish was, and I thought they'd say halibut because we caught a massive 50-pounder and they were cutting that up and hoofing that down.

"But they said no, it's always cod, and they went down into the kitchen - this cod had been caught two hours before in the cold Bering Sea, and then it's on your plate.

Swear to God, I thought I'd tasted cod, but I definitely had not. What we have is rubbish. Sometimes it's frozen twice, the stuff we get. That was the best fish I've ever tasted - nothing like I've ever had before, absolutely mad, so good! It was sensational!"

Having made his way to Longyearbyen in Svalbard, Wright left the company of cod fisherman to seek a larger, land-roaming prize. 

Hopping aboard an icebreaker, the presenter went off into the Arctic wilderness in search of the rare and fearsome polar bear.

"Although it's beautiful and majestic and everything that you can imagine, it also looks like the most powerful thing on earth," he effuses. 

"If that gave you one of those death stares you'd be thinking it's all over for me! So although it's stunning, you got that shudder of power because it might look beautiful and chilled out but you know underneath that it's a killer."

But the bears weren't the only animal to pop in on Wright's Arctic escapade.

"We were also out on the boat and seeing walruses, and that was just as exciting and mind-blowing," he says

"They came up right by the boat, so we were almost within touching distance. And they look like old men with those big handlebar moustaches - all like 'What's going on here?'"

For all his joking, however, Wright is quite to remind us that these kind of sites can't be taken for granted – especially in a place where the sea-ice is melting at an unprecedented rate year on year, leaving less and less habitat for the creatures who call the Arctic their home.

"It's like that thing when you see a whale or something, you get that sad, hippy thing of the 'Oh the whale's so large, I'm so small and insignificant'," Wright concludes.

"But you can't help it. These things are so rare, and you rarely see things that are twice the size of you out in the wild, that you should feel like that."

Tough Boats continues in The Arctic on Wednesday 15th February on Travel Channel, 9pm.

by: Jake Taylor - via Interview Hub




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