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Saturday 14 January 2017

Interview: Walking The Americas' Levison Wood Chats Ahead Of Show At Theatre Royal Brighton

Best-selling author and TV presenter Levison Wood will be embarking on a major national theatre tour which will bring him to the Theatre Royal Brightonthis February, following his latest adventures Walking The Americas. We caught up with him to find out what"s in store on the stage...

You"re currently on another long walk. Can you give us a sneak preview of where you've been? Will there be another TV series?

This autumn I've been walking the length of Central America from Mexico to Colombia, 1700 miles through some of the harshest jungles on earth. I've been filming it myself, with a light footprint crew who came out in stages. Channel 4 will be airing it in early spring 2017. It"s been challenging tough terrain at times, but an incredible, eye-opening journey so far. I'm really looking forward to sharing it with everyone.

Will there be a book about your experiences?

Yes there certainly will. I'm working away on it as we speak. It"s called Walking The Americas - funnily enough! - and comes out in February. I"ll be signing copies during the tour and you can buy one pre-signed online when you buy a ticket.

What"s your favourite place to write?

It depends where I am, but I've moved into a new house recently and built a little library with a nice old desk and views out over the park, so that"s where I"ll finish writing my book.

You're going to be touring the UK in spring. What sorts of stories are you planning to share?

Without wanting to spoil the surprise, I plan to talk about my latest expedition "Walking the Americas" as well as what has inspired me along the way, and how I went from being in the Parachute Regiment to forging a career as an explorer. I"ll talk about the challenges and pitfalls; the dangers and the rewards of a career as a professional traveller. I"ll also share some stories from "behind the scenes" that don"t make it into the TV series. I hope I"ll inspire people to go on their own adventures and make people laugh and challenge their perceptions of places. I'm very fortunate to be able to do this for a living. 


Describe your show in three words

Why we travel.

Can we look forward to some musical standards?

I wouldn't advise it. I'm tone deaf.

Will you be walking between venues?

Not if I can help it.

Where on the tour have you never visited before? Anywhere you"re particularly looking forward to visiting?

I'm really looking forward to Buxton, as it"s pretty much home turf for me. My family live up near the Peak District and I've spent a lot of time walking around those parts. I don"t think I've ever been to Leamington Spa before, so I hope to have chance to explore before the show.

What do you enjoy most about touring?

I do a fair few shows and events each year, ranging from small intimate venues to concert halls, but this is my first big tour on this scale. I love the challenge of speaking in front of hundreds of people and trying to keep them entertained. It"s great to be able to share my experiences.

How do you prepare for a show?

I"ll be relating anecdotes from all my major expeditions and sharing some of my photography and film footage, so there"s a lot of preparation goes into that. Immediately before the show I try and take it easy. Maybe catch up with friends or family for a quiet meal. That helps me to relax.

If you could invite ten special guests (living or dead) to sit in the front row, who
would they be?

I"d invite my exploration heroes along, although it would be terrifying to speak in front of the likes of Captain Scott, David Livingstone, Burton, Speke, Stanley, Samuel Baker, Eric Newby and Shackleton. I also really wish my grandparents could be there. They passed away before I started doing all of this. Luckily, my parents try to come along to at least one or two of my shows. That"s more than ten, isn't it?

What"s the strangest question you've been asked by a member of the audience?

I can"t recall anything particularly strange, but people should feel free to ask away. I usually get a lot of practical questions. What"s the worst food you've eaten (bush rat), what make of boots do you wear (Altberg), how many changes of clothes do you get through (not many - two or three max). That kind of thing. Kids ask some really good questions, as they don"t self censor.

Do you ever get stage fright?

I sometimes still get nervous before an event, but you have to get on with it. I haven"t frozen yet.

What's on your tour rider?

I have fairly simple tastes, but I sometimes like a Gin & Tonic before I go on stage. I'm not much of a diva, am I?

Tickets to An Evening with Levison at Theatre Royal Brighton on Monday 27 February 2017 are available at www.atgtickets.com/brighton or by calling 0844 871 7650.


by: Mike Cobley


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