Before presenting Globe Trekker, Ian spent three months in Guyana with Operation Raleigh, a Prince’s Trust initiative, travelling in a self-made bamboo raft down uncharted rivers. He spent three months in Egypt, seven months travelling around India and Nepal, and six months travelling around Europe including Poland and Romania.
An accomplished artist and theatre performer, Ian has had an exhibition of his paintings at Chats Palace. He also devises plays in schools, runs drama and art workshops at the Children’s House in Islington on the weekends, and works with children with behavioural difficulties in special schools.
After leaving art school, his ‘odd jobs’ included working as a cycle courier and making and selling crafts, jewellery and home-made jams at Spitalfields Market in East London.
He currently lives in London with his wife and family. To relax, Ian enjoys playing football, eating out, and going for walks in the English countryside.
Suffolk-born Ian has travelled all around the globe presenting with Pilot. “Comforts don’t interest me,” he says. “The sort of trips I go on are all about living cheap and getting dirty which is how I like it.”
On three occasions, Ian has won the prestigious U.S. Cable Ace Awards for Best Magazine Host for his Morocco, Central Asia, and Ethiopia shows.
“If you spend too much time thinking about it, then you miss it! Things come. Keep looking, meet different people, and exchange ideas. There is no rule.”
“The first step is in your head. So don’t think about it, buy a flight ticket tomorrow and then worry about it on the plane. This is the hardest step.”
“In Nepal, the kit didn’t turn up and we lost two days. Then we went to the Monkey Temple and after two hours the director got bitten to the blood by a monkey, and was at risk of death from rabies. It was a disaster!”
“In Vanuatu, we visited the most accessible volcano in the world. It erupted every ten minutes, spitting out moulting lava all over the crater. It was unbelievable – until the wind changed. A piece of lava landed two meters away from my head. And we ran like scared rabbits crying like babies. But now I wish I had a lava burn mark on my arm to boast about in the pub.”
On Travel TV…
“Every single country you go to just blows your mind! You know with this job you always get 5 months condensed in three weeks! The final program gives you a splash of colours, a smell of the country, and that’s where its success is I think.”
“I love it! I’m like an adrenaline junky. That’s my nutty side coming out! It always seems more dangerous when you’re sitting there in your comfy room watching it on TV, but you know, most of the things I do, I’m in control of. I’ve done loads of stupid stuff as a kid, so I know my limits.”
“Every country we meet incredible people, from an atomic bomb victim in Japan to the blind masseur in Cambodia. The people I love are the people I meet by accident. Sitting in a back street of Mongolia talking to a man who works in a run-down garage, speaks five languages, and has two degrees makes me feel the size an ant. I’m just the boring glue that sticks it all together.”
“I love places in the middle of nowhere, no one is there, and the landscape is phenomenal. Cambodia is just unbelievable. You have pre-conceived ideas, which often everyone has, andall you know is the Killing Fields. So the first five days you see it, but after that you forget it. People are young, they live for now.
And Phnom Penh is such a brilliant capital. I went clubbing there and the atmosphere was great. Just like anywhere in Europe, young people happy and enjoying music! The DJ was there in a cut Beatle car, mixing and sending friendly messages to the travellers!”
“I also love places above the Arctic Circle. It is so extreme, so absurd. It has nothing to do with your usual life. It’s mind-blowing. Greenland was just phenomenal. Almost the size of Europe, and only 55,000 people! Amazing. A big wonderful ice-cube.”
“There is no secret; there is nothing mysterious about a rucksack. All you need is money, passport, and a change of clothes. Forget the rest.”
“I try and find time to paint on every trip. The most inspiration I get is from being in the mountains and moody weather. One of the best place for this is Southern Ireland. I went there in September looking for this atmosphere. But it was a heat wave for the whole two weeks, I was the only one in the country looking for bad weather. What a loser!”
Follow Ian on Twitter @ianwrightey