Presenting Indian Ocean: From curried fruit bat to armoured underwear

Presenter

We covered a vast area and huge distances while filming Indian Ocean.

Starting in South Africa we travelled up the east coast of the continent, then around India and back down through Indonesia to finish in south-west Australia.

Simon Reeve in Indian Ocean

We visited 16 countries in all and spent more than six months filming, putting in some serious miles on the road.

The immediate image that people have of the Indian Ocean is tropical islands but of course it's a much larger area than just the beautiful parts.

It's the third largest ocean on the planet and a home to the paradise islands of countries like the Seychelles but also Somalia which is one of the most difficult and dangerous places to film, as well as desperately poor countries such as Bangladesh.

It's a region with a complete mix of life and we tried to reflect that in the series.

I'm the presenter and also closely involved in all aspects of the shows from initially coming up with the idea through to helping to decide what we film, then editing, scripting and voiceovers.

We're a small team and I loved the whole process of discussion - and occasionally heated debate - as we decided what we were going to film and where we would visit during our travels.

We couldn't visit every country around the edge of the ocean and we certainly couldn't travel every mile of the coastline so we had to pick the best spots for filming based on the likelihood of us actually being able to tell a story, show an issue or see a stunning sight.

It largely comes down to probability. The question we ask is how likely are we to be able to get to a place, see what we need to film to tell a story and then get out again without vast expense?

The end result is TV with a blend of travel, current affairs, wildlife, history, culture, global issues, local concerns and of course, some weird food.

Watch Simon eat curried fruit bat

You've got to have some strange food on a journey like this.

On the road the other team members were drawn from a small but brilliant pool.

Four of us went out from the UK and there was a slightly different team for each leg of the journey.

I also had two of the best cameramen in the business, Jonathan Young and Craig Hastings who each filmed around half of the series.

They have a remarkable talent for capturing stunning footage, spontaneous encounters and tricky situations.

And remember they do everything I do, often going backwards and carrying more than 12kg on their shoulder.

Together we were privileged to visit some of the most glorious islands in the world while filming this series and one personal highlight for me was meeting Brendon Grimshaw, an 86-year-old Brit on the island he bought in the Seychelles in the 1960s for £8,000.

He's been living the dream in paradise ever since.

But for the third programme in the series we travelled to Mogadishu in Somalia, one of the most dangerous places on the planet, where we needed flak jackets, helmets and even 'blast boxers' - armoured underwear - to protect us against IEDs and grenade attacks.

Watch Simon on a mission with AMISOM soldiers in Mogadishu

We had Ugandan peacekeepers from the African Union Mission In Somalia (AMISOM) looking after us and they took us to the frontline several times during active combat.

Their organisation is battling to stabilise Somalia and halt piracy and it's a frightening and tragic place.

Producer-director Andrew Carter, cameraman Jonathan Young and I were the small team.

We've all had extensive experience of similar situations and completed Hostile Environment courses where you're taught the essentials of survival.

But when you're there the main thing you think about is getting the story on film.

That's the whole point of a series like this: to show viewers what life is like in these remote parts of the world.

Simon Reeve is the presenter of Indian Ocean.

Indian Ocean continues on Sunday, 13 May at 8pm on BBC Two and BBC HD (except for analogue viewers in Northern Ireland and Wales). The series will be available to watch in iPlayer until Sunday, 10 June.

For more information about analogue television and the digital switchover please visit Help Receiving TV and Radio.

For further programme times, please see the episode guide.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

Comments

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  • Comment number 32. Posted by Kokodemer

    on 6 Jul 2012 01:15

    I have enjoyed these series. Sad to hear that Brandon Grimshaw has passed away in the Seychelles.

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  • Comment number 31. Posted by DIcky1970

    on 8 Jun 2012 19:39

    I thought the last episode dealt with the issues gratuitously and left a view Simon Reeves is lightweight. The Western Australian portion was made to appear that there was a universal grab at resources - without the balances of the enormous efforts being undertaken to deal with the obvious environmental issues. It suited his desire to be dramatic but was unbalanced. This way of portraying issues as simply resolvable if only we follow the good guys, rather than complex with all parties trying hard to made it work - lost the programme credibility.

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  • Comment number 30. Posted by Ruby

    on 6 Jun 2012 13:00

    Fantastic series, really well written, Simon Reeve is a great presenter and did an incredible job of highlighting the environmental issues that surround the beautiful Indian Ocean. However was puzzled if covering the Virtue Police in Indonesia was really relevant to the series? The soundbite reference to 'Shariya Law' and covering courting teenagers was altogether negative and was irrelevant to the overall picture of environmental issues and impact of human neglect and plundering this beautiful part of the world.

    I am struggling to understand how policing a boy and girl courting on the beach had any relevance to the rest of the series. This is yet another negative, sensationalistic slant on Islam and Islamic Law and life portrayed by the BBC which serves no purpose. BBC please try to consider your moderate muslims who pay their license fee and do not wish to be subject to negative representation either in this country or abroad.

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  • Comment number 29. Posted by birdiebelle

    on 3 Jun 2012 20:33

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 28. Posted by Fiona Wickham - BBC TV blog editor

    on 1 Jun 2012 19:02

    Hello rose #7 and #10, barry #8 and rebecca #25 - thank you for your comments here. I'm sorry for the pause in responding to you - we've been following up with the production team on your request for the names of charities/support/conservation groups. For anyone interested, I'm glad to say there is info on aid organisations working in the region, and links listed on the newly-published More Information page. (Also now linked from the bottom of the Indian Ocean programme page under Find Out More.)

    Hope that helps - thanks for your patience.

  • Comment number 27. Posted by rks

    on 29 May 2012 19:35

    id really enjoyed the series until it went to sri lanka and went all political by stating some unconfirmed allegations about war crimes as some established facts,. please do some research before you make statements about discrimination and war crime allegations..

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  • Comment number 26. Posted by sleepylagoon

    on 27 May 2012 21:55

    Re the episode about where the world's ships go to die, in Chittagong... Mark Knopfler wrote a very moving song about this subject: "So Far from the Clyde". Not a dry eye in the house!

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  • Comment number 25. Posted by rebecca

    on 24 May 2012 14:21

    I too would like links to the lady Fatima? who worked with the young men in Somaliland, we would like to support her work as our charity at school next year. Help please?

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  • Comment number 24. Posted by The Philosurfer

    on 23 May 2012 15:59

    I watched the Maldives episode and its spurred me to look at the other episodes on i-player. It really seems as if the series should have been called Paradise Lost. More thoughts here: http://www.wavedreamer.co.uk/indian-ocean-paradise-lost/

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  • Comment number 23. Posted by Maldivesleaks2

    on 23 May 2012 14:05

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

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