What happens when you take five celebrities out of their natural habitat?
Scottish wildlife film-maker Gordon Buchanan faced one of his biggest challenges to date – He was tasked with taking a celebrity guest out into the wilds of the UK for three intense days to spot some of the UK’s rarest and most beautiful creatures.
Dermot O’Leary, John Simpson, Sara Cox, Alastair Campbell and Ed Byrne each joined Gordon Buchanan to share his passion for wildlife on an adventure of a lifetime.
Spending time with Gordon on the trail of great Scottish wildlife was one of the highlights of my 2015.
Alastair suffers from Mortuusequusphobia (a fear of Tomato Ketchup) and is the most unpretentious person I’ve encountered.Gordon Buchanan
I have a lifelong love of beautiful scenery born of growing up in Yorkshire and spending much of my childhood in Scotland.
It was particularly nice to visit the Hebridean Island my father came from and where I spent most of my summer holidays.
But what was fantastic was having as a guide someone who knew so much about the area and especially how to find and see close up some of the most extraordinary creatures on earth.
Swimming with seals - let alone calling them to the surface by playing my bagpipes -, getting within a few feet of an otter at play, following the flight of an eagle as it swooped to take fish from the water, and seeing a group of dolphins swim alongside our boat -- these were among the magical moments I will never forget.
I will even - almost - forgive Gordon for making me sleep in a tent despite now being of an age that tends to prefer quality hotels!
I had such a fun time with Gordon.
Sara Cox is one the most naturally quick-witted people I’ve ever met. She loves life but hates dill with a passion.Gordon Buchanan
I learnt a lot and we got on brilliantly (in fact I think our laughter probably scared away the wildlife)
Despite sideways rain, elusive badgers and low flying bats I loved my time on Dartmoor.
Best of all we had a very rare, magical encounter at the end of the trip which rounded off an unforgettable weekend in the wild.
Not only is Ed funny to the bone, he has more Swedish outdoor clothing than me!Gordon Buchanan
Gordon was a really funny guy to be around.
It’s hard to express in words what a great couple of days I had with Gordon.
Dermot is an even nicer man than you’d ever imagine and can cook the best Mackerel I’ve ever tasted.Gordon Buchanan
To experience the wildlife on our doorstep was fully awe inspiring.
Swimming with basking sharks and being up close with whales, golden eagles, dolphins and midges made it a trip I’ll always remember. I can’t wait to go back.
John didn’t believe that you can cook a tinned Haggis on an open fire and is still as questioning and full of wonder at the world as I imagine he was at the start of his career.Gordon Buchanan
Over the last 50 years, I have been all over the world seeking out politicians, dictators, warlords and kings - So spending time searching for another kind of wild life with the delightful and expert Gordon Buchanan has been a real pleasure - give me a red squirrel over a Taliban general any day of the week
Gordon's celebrity behaviour observations
What was your ultimate aim when heading off with a celebrity into the wild?
Really the aim was simple. To give each guest an opportunity to have an unforgettable wildlife experience.
An opportunity for the audience to get to know, and possibly see another side of each person, not just their public persona.
Obviously for me to enjoy the wildlife and the company of some truly interesting people.
Who would you say got the most out of the experience and why?
I think in many ways Alastair Campbell may have got most from the experience.
The world in which he has inhabited through his career is a million miles away from the experiences we had on our trip.
Watching an otter peacefully snooze just meters away or a pod of bottle nosed leaping from the water close enough to touch really are unforgettable memories.
He was going to buy a pair of binoculars as soon as he got back to London!
What was the best moment and why?
There were fabulous animal encounters and lovely memorable times with each guest.
Really the best moment was at the end of the trip knowing that the wildlife had delivered for us and we were all going home with a smile on our faces.
It was probably relief more than anything!
If you could take any celeb out into the wild (alive or dead) – who would it be? Why?
As the worlds wealthiest man, the aim would be to convince him to extend his philanthropy to helping to protect the worlds most vulnerable species.
If he wasn’t available, I’d take Donald Trump into the wild.