I was just watching a couple of episodes from the BBC extreme mountain challenge. It looks like pretty hairy stuff, dangerous infact. For lack of a better word, why?
I think I've always been fascinated by adventure and going to places that people haven't been to before and doing things that they haven't done before. Apart from anything else that part of the world, the Tepui in Venezuela is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. There's nothing that compares to moments when you shine a torch into the darkness and know that no one has ever been into that particular cave system before, or placed your hands on a rock face and know that no one has touched before or hold an animal in your hand and know that it is a species completely new to science. It's a very powerful idea as we seem to think that every inch of the planet has already been explored.
There's so many things that you've done, has there ever been a moment when you've thought I might not get out of this situation?
The Tepui in particular was a situation that was really hard on all of us. We were in a team with some of the best climbers in the world and the best climbing cameraman in the world, yet all of us felt like we'd pushed it too close to the edge. There were moments when it was really sketchy and we were very glad to get down to the end of that without anyone being hurt.
The crew, are they from the BBC or do you work with people you know?
They're far from ordinary guys. The cameraman is a guy called Keith Partridge, he's the best climbing cameraman in the world. He has taken cameras all the way to the summit of Everest, he's climbed the north face of the eiger, he also filmed touching the void. He is hardcore, he's the real deal. When you see someone like Keith really losing it, then you know things are tough.
You've obviously grown up surrounded by the outdoors and nature and animals feature in all of your stories. Was this something that you actively pursued or did it just kind of happen?
I always knew that I'd have something to do with wildlife and adventure. I didn't know it would be TV, and that wasn't something I was aiming for when I was a kid. But it's been very good to me and I hope that it lasts for as long as possible.
You've just had your birthday. Wasn't it your 43rd?
Yes that's right.
Do you have any signs of slowing down?
No not just yet, but I'm sure I will. I'm constantly being pushed by my fiancée who is a gold medalist. She's training for Rio and she's so motivated, so driven, ambitious and fit. I don't think i can really afford to slow down.
Is there any rivalry in the household?
There is without a doubt. The house is full of healthy competition. I think once we get passed Rio then we'll find out how much competition there really is.
Helen Glover was amazing in London 2012 I have to say. Big support I'm sure for Helen. With everything that you've been doing, I mean the rock climbing, the martial arts, mountaineering and the deadly animals, is there something that scares you?
I would say among animals it's got to be hippos, they're the animal that scares me the most because they're unpredictable. All the other animals that I work with such as crocodiles, snakes and even sharks to a certain extent, with experience and time you get a good idea of how they are going to react in almost every single situation. With hippos you can't, you can work with them for years and they'll still take you by surprise. They're much faster than you can imagine and they're really aggressive. To me they are the most frightening of animals.
Snakes for example, are driven by some really simple desires; the desire to keep warm, the desire to feed and the desire to protect themselves and there's not a lot more than that going on with them. I've been working with them for 18 years now and tend to get an idea of where the limits are.