ONE of the world’s leading wildlife cameramen, Colin Stafford-Johnson, is heading to Darwen Library Theatre next week to share some of his experiences filming in some of the world’s most exotic locations.

Colin has filmed pieces for the BBC’s Natural World and made his name by living among the wild tigers of India which spawned a series of award-winning documentaries.

“I think I spent more time with my tiger family than I did with my own for a number of years,” he said.

The genial Irishman - he has had a series of wildlife programmes on Irish TV - presents some of the remarkable film that he has shot over the years as part of his show.

“It will cover how I first got interested in wildlife growing up in Ireland,” he said. “But it will also cover my work with the tigers in India - I made a lot of tiger films - and stuff that’s closer to home.”

There aren’t many people who can say that tigers changed their lives but that’s definitely the case with Colin.

“I can still remember when I got a phone call on a wet Monday afternoon when I was living in Bristol and I had no job and a well-known natural history producer said he was making a tiger film and asked if I would be involved.

“I asked him how long the job would be for and he said 220 days. That marked a real jump in my career. Until then I’d mostly been working in the UK filming rabbits and birds.”

Colin admits he was totally unprepared for what he faced in India.

“I got there with my new carer not knowing a thing about tigers,” he said. “The guy I met there and who I would work with for many years didn’t know much about them either but I think that’s what made it so exciting.

“Remember this was before the days of social media and people didn’t know a great deal about the lives of tigers so we learned a lot of new stuff about them.”

Over the years, Colin spent much of his time following one particular tiger, Machli.

“We’d follow her from dawn to dusk and she became the most famous tiger in the world,” he said. “We gradually learned how to read her moods, and it was a real privilege.

“But I think it was very much a one-way relationship. She tolerated us but we were just irrelevant in her environment. She didn’t see me as a threat, she didn’t see me as anything. She just ignored me which as a cameraman is actually what you want.

“Machli lived to be a ripe old age and it was sad when she eventually passed away.”

For all the dramatic footage which Colin has brought us over the years, what the viewer doesn't see are the hours spent where nothing happens.

“You have to be patient, or maybe just a little idle,” he laughed. “Fortunately I’m quite happy to sit around all day waiting for something to happen. Sometimes you can read a book while you’re waiting, while at other times you are on tenterhooks the whole time.

“I’ve just been filming Arctic foxes in Iceland for a new BBC series and I had to concentrate the whole time as they could appear at any second.

“Being switched on all the time is a bit of a mental battle. If you miss it, you’ve got to do it all over again.”

Having seen the wild up close, Colin is a passionate advocate for the natural world.

“The problem is that we are often so removed from the consequences of our actions,” he said. “But that shouldn’t stop us from doing things to make things better.”

n Colin Stafford-Johnson, Darwen Library Theatre, Wednesday, October 3. Details from 0844 847 1664 or