Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Culture: Ben Runs Back to Tyneside; He Has Travelled the World but Tyneside Is Uncharted Territory. Barbara Hodgson Chats to Ben Fogle Who Is Come to Spread Christmas Cheer

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Culture: Ben Runs Back to Tyneside; He Has Travelled the World but Tyneside Is Uncharted Territory. Barbara Hodgson Chats to Ben Fogle Who Is Come to Spread Christmas Cheer

Article excerpt

Byline: Barbara Hodgson

ADVENTURER and TV regular Ben Fogle is making a seasonal stop at The Sage Gateshead at the weekend as narrator for the Northern Sinfonia Christmas Concert.

The popular presenter, who shot to fame in the TV reality show Castaway in 2000, is taking the part of narrator in two concerts, on Saturday and Sunday.

Ben, 34, was in the region in September to take part in the Great North Run, for charity. Alongside Jamie Cracknell, with whom he rowed across the Atlantic, he launched their next venture at the run - a trip to the South Pole. But that was his first time in Newcastle. "For someone who travels extensively around the UK, I'm embarrassed to say that!" he says.

The people, he adds, are probably the friendliest he has ever met. "I have to say I was very taken by the people of Newcastle - everybody came out during the race and there were even home-made ice lollies.

"I'm really excited about coming back - it'll be nice to return in less physically challenging circumstances, and to have a glass of mulled wine and enjoy the city." It seems Ben has hardly drawn breath in the past few years.

The former newspaper picture editor - son of actress Julia Foster and broadcasting vet Bruce Fogle - is speaking during a break in filming Christmas-themed episodes of Sunday BBC rural affairs programme Country file, for which he was also in Germany tracing the story of the original Christmas market.

"I'm feeling very festive now!" he says.

Due to all his work commitments, this year will be only the second time he has spent Christmas Day with his wife, Marina. "It'll be a particularly special one. And we won't have the dilemma some have when they marry, about whose parents to spend it with.

"Both our families live quite near - mine are in West Sussex and hers are in Buckinghamshire so we'll be having Christmas lunch at one and dinner at the other!"

No doubt any excess weight gained on the day will soon be worked off when he and Jamie travel to Norway for their first proper South Pole training, he adds. Also in January a new series of Extreme Dreams will air on TV, in which Ben accompanies ordinary people to far-flung locations for the adventure of a lifetime. …

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