Adventurer and naturalist Steve Backshall is heading to Blackburn’s King George’s Hall on Wednesday with his brand new show Ocean. Here he talks about his passion for the deep and what audiences can look forward to from the show

Are you excited to get back on the road and what should audiences expect?

I am so excited. I’m bringing the ocean’s aquatic environments and marine creatures to life on stage by using a giant screen featuring lots of amazing footage from my encounters with sharks, whales and dolphins over the years.

There will be on-stage science experiments, by using props, stunts and tricks plus some outtakes and bloopers too. Also, some life-size scale ocean giants that we’ll be bringing out on stage, which I think really helps because it’s very, very difficult to get a sense of how big these animals really are.

Lancashire Telegraph: Steve Backshall exploring an underwater cave                      (Picture: True to Nature Ltd)

Why did you choose the ocean as your subject?

The ocean and the animals that live there are my absolute passion. It’s a part of the world that is a mystery to most people.

There are so many of the secrets of the seas that people just don’t begin to know anything about. And it’s probably the part of our planet that’s at the most at risk right now.

The show is very much based around the most iconic animals in our oceans and how they function and what makes them special. But I will also be talking a bit about the challenges that they face and that the broader environments in the oceans face as well.

Without too many spoilers, what sort of stunts will you be doing?

I have a bunch of different ways that I’m going to try and illustrate the most out-there elements of wildlife, what it does, and how it works. That is going to involve an awful lot of stunts and tricks and experiments, many of which are going to go horribly wrong because they always do. I’m almost certainly going to end up covered from head to toe in goo at some point.

So you want to make this exotic wildlife relatable?

Yes. It’s about finding things which are familiar to people and they understand and perhaps they may see in their everyday life that connect to how a jellyfish stings or how the tail of a thresher shark may take down its prey.

There is 25 years of experience behind every single one of these tricks. It’s going to be a bit of magic show. It’s going to be a bit of TED Talk. It’s going to have a fair bit of panto thrown in. I’m very much hoping to make people laugh, and then cry and then think, and then think some more and then laugh again because I have just covered myself in elephant faeces. Actually, probably not elephant faeces because we’re underwater, so whale poop!

Lancashire Telegraph: 24/01/2020 - Lynne Youle I can confirm that the images Elena provided can be used for Steve's self promotion/ speaking engagements/ press enquiries/ websites etc and the  Credit is: True to Nature Ltd.

Why is the ocean is your very favourite place on the planet?

So many of my very best wildlife experiences have been in the ocean. Whether it’s been freediving alongside a female sea lion who is dancing wingtip to fingertip with me underwater, coming in and practically nuzzling my mask as we swim alongside each other and pirouetting underwater like some kind of marine ballerina, through to seeing a tiny flamboyant cuttlefish no bigger than the end of my thumb hunting mysid shrimp on the bottom of the sea before putting on a hypnotic light display that would rival any nightclub.

The ocean is a place that is full of surprises, full of wonder, always invigorating. And I just want to bring that to life on stage.

Do you have a favourite marine animal?

I think the Orca would be my favourite. There is so much about them that we don’t understand, and yet they have an awful lot in common with us.

There’s so much about them that I find fascinating. And I know that I could study them for a lifetime and I still would not really understand them.

You also love sharks. Can you describe the delight of swimming with them?

As much as anything else, it turns our own expectations on their head. “The J Word” – Jaws – has had such an all pervasive effect on the way that people see sharks that so often you get in the water with them and people shout, “oh my god, he’s going to get eaten instantly!”

That was probably somewhere in the back of my head as well when I started off. But it’s amazing to turn that expectation around and find that not only are sharks not malicious man-eating monsters that are out to get you, but actually they are completely ambivalent to your presence. They could not care less if you’re there or not.

Lancashire Telegraph: 24/01/2020 - Lynne Youle I can confirm that the images Elena provided can be used for Steve's self promotion/ speaking engagements/ press enquiries/ websites etc and the  Credit is: True to Nature Ltd.

What sort of audience do you hope will come along to “Ocean”?

When people ask me, “who’s it for? What age is it suitable for?” I say, “if you’ve got kids who are into wildlife, who love sharks, who love whales, who love sea lions, it doesn’t matter how old they are, it’s not important – they’ll still love it So I’m doing everything I can to make sure this show includes as many people as possible.

Steve Backshall, King George’s Hall, Blackburn, Wednesday, November 8. Details from