BEN Fogle is celebrating 20 years in broadcasting this year.

In 1999 he was sent to the Scottish island of Taransay by the BBC for Castaway, one of the first reality TV shows and a pre-Big Brother social experiment in which 36 men, women, and children were tasked with fending for themselves and building a community from scratch.

Two decades on, the 45-year-old is heading out on tour to talk about everything that has happened since that career-launching experience. That includes a date at the Parr Hall on March 7.

He said: "It seemed a good moment to pull all my experiences together for an evening of both drama and laughter."

Since Castaway Ben has been described as a TV presenter, writer, conservationist and an adventurer. He has worked for BBC, ITV, Channel 5, Sky, Discovery and the National Geographic channels and has hosted the likes of Crufts and Countryfile.

But he has a much grander title than that.

Ben added: "I think the thing of which I’m most proud is being appointed United Nations Patron of the Wilderness. I now meet everyone from environment ministers to presidents to prime ministers all around the world and share my experiences of life in the wild, everything from Himalayan mountains to remote corners of the ocean.

"And all of it stems from the time I spent a year on that Hebridean island.

"I'm frequently asked how it’s possible for someone to have what’s turned into my eclectic career. And the simple answer is that I don’t know. It’s happened through

a mix of luck and opportunity and determination."

At one stage, he had ambitions to be an actor like his mother, Julia Foster, remembered from 60s films like Alfie with Michael

Caine, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and Half A Sixpence.

More recently, she’s been back on stage in Alan Bennett’s new play, Allelujah!

Ben said: "I think this will be the nearest I’ve come to treading the boards. Every time I ask mum whether she prefers screen work

or the theatre, she always says the theatre. There’s nothing, in her opinion, to beat the instant response of a live audience."

His Canadian father, Bruce Fogle, is a high-profile vet.

"Dad’s pretty laidback. Mum, on the other hand, is very driven, very focused," Ben added.

And she’s always been Ben’s greatest and worst critic.

He said: "I often don’t like her opinions but she has that maternal honesty. She’ll never say what I want her to say, she says what she genuinely feels. Either way, I’ll definitely tap into her experience when it comes to the structure and creation of my stage show."

From the bizarre to the death defying, Ben will share his many adventures when he visits Warrington.

Crewe Guardian:

Ben added: "I’ll be talking about clearing mines in Iraq from where I’ll have recently returned just before the tour begins, swimming with

crocodiles in Botswana, climbing Mount Everest, travelling with Princes William and Harry for conservation work in Africa; working at Longleat with Kate Humble on Animal Park and with John Craven on Countryfile for 10 years, taking part in the World Worm Charming Championship and lots more besides.

"In short, it’s going to be a yomp through 20 hugely varied, highly enjoyable years."

Unsurprisingly, his lifestyle has brought many brushes with death.

He almost drowned in the Atlantic when his boat capsized, he suffered frostbite as he trekked across 500 miles of snow and while filming his TV series, Extreme Dreams, in Peru, he was bitten by a sand fly and suffered leishmaniasis, a flesh-eating bug that kills tens of thousands of people each year.

All of which must have driven his long-suffering wife, Marina, half-mad with worry.

"Well yes,’ he admitted.

"Although I proposed to her on my return from rowing across the Atlantic with James Cracknell so she kind of knew what she was taking on."

But things can go wrong.

Ben added: "Sadly, I know of far too many people who’ve lost their lives in pursuit of being what you might call pioneers. The Australian Steve Irwin, for

instance, was killed by a stingray but look what he’d done for people’s understanding of the environment."

None of it has changed Ben’s approach to life.

He said: "If anything, it’s given me more resilience to make the most of all the amazing opportunities out there."

So what else does 2019 bring for Ben Fogle? For a start, there’s the first of a new series of children’s books, Mr Dog and the Rabbit Habit.

Ben added: "He’s a mutt, not a Labrador, which is my favourite breed, and it’s designed for children between the ages of about

eight to 11.

"Later on, he’ll have encounters with seals, hedgehogs, a whole selection of British wildlife. In some ways, it harks back to some of my favourite animal books – Watership Down, Toad of Toad Hall, anything by Beatrix Potter."

On TV, there’s another Channel 5 series of New Lives in the Wild, featuring people who have swapped home comforts in the UK for living in the wilderness somewhere in the world.

At the end of January, he’s also co-hosting a one-off ITV special with Sara Cox called Britain’s Top 100 Dogs, a live countdown with viewers voting on their favourite

breed but including mixed breeds, cross breeds and mutts.

But Ben is also considering slowing things down to spend more time with Marina and their children Ludo, nine, and Iona, seven.

He said: "I’ve probably spent nine months away from home this year. It’s sometimes been hard for Marina. Inevitably, she’s had to do more of the child-rearing and then I come home – Captain Fun – and the children are all over me.

"It’s not fair on her if she’s seen as the one who does all the disciplining."

However if he takes a year’s sabbatical it will be in true Ben Fogle style – a long way from the UK and another adventure, albeit a family-friendly one.

Ben added: "I have a fascination with where the South Pacific meets Indonesia. And I’ve always been drawn to island life. As it happens, I’d be just as delighted to

go up to the Arctic Circle but I noticed that Marina had put a line through anywhere cold and damp."

And five years from now?

He said: "I’d be living in a little coastguard cottage with my family – it could be in Scotland, it could be in Cornwall or Devon – with six dogs. I’d be able to enjoy swimming and kayaking and paddle-boarding on the sea every day.

"On the other hand, something tells me I’ll probably be in some remote corner of a jungle in somewhere like Papua New Guinea.’

Ben Fogle presents Tales of the Wilderness at the Parr Hall on March 7. Visit pyramidparrhall.com or call 442345