British naturalist, writer and television presenter Steve Backshall has stared down great white sharks, wrestled king cobras and been bitten by a crocodilian. Sound familiar?
It seems the host of the Deadly 60 series, which has seen Backshall travel the world in search of predators that are "not just deadly to me, but deadly in their own world" is following in the footsteps of the late, great Steve Irwin.
"He was such a national treasure, so I guess anyone who starts making programs in the same sphere as him is going to be compared," Backshall said while on a whirlwind publicity trip to Sydney earlier this month.
"I'm not entirely sure that is a fair comparison because he did so much to raise people's awareness of reptiles and no one has done as much to make people aware of snakes and crocodiles than Steve did. He is a massive figurehead for conservation and did some incredible things and I'm not for a second going to say that I'm there yet but obviously to be compared is a great compliment."
Despite his pleas, Backshall has more than a passing resemblance to Irwin in both looks and his fervent enthusiasm for creepy- crawlies. "I think most people would think that most of what I do is fairly outrageous," he said with a laugh.
"I have spent several weeks waiting around in rainforest rivers up to my waist in waters that are alive with piranhas and electric eels just to find a snake that, by the end of the day, I didn't even find.
"I think most people would say 'You're absolutely nuts' but to me, I think it's more natural, fun and less frightening than spending an evening out in a big city. I genuinely get more nervous wandering the streets of London at night than I ever do around venomous snakes and spiders.
"For me, it seems like the most perfectly natural thing to want to do.
"It's been my passion ever since I could crawl; I've never really wanted to do anything else with my life and it's just great that television has offered me the opportunity to do it for a living because this is kind of what I do anyway. The second the cameras go down, I'm going off and catching snakes and bugs myself or going out kayaking and climbing; this is what my life actually is."
Backshall's profile in Australia is set to soar over the next few months as his shows move from ABC3 to ABC1.
Deadly 60: On a Mission starts on Sunday and showcases the best bits of the first three series.
"It's kind of been re-versioned and re-voiced for an adult or a family audience," Backshall explained.
" The series in the UK was commissioned as a kids' program but we found out from our research that it was being watched by just as many adults as it was kids, so we put it out in a prime-time slot and it did really, really well."
The initial idea of the show was to compile a list of 60 deadly animals but as the show grew, so did the list, which is now made up of about 180 animals.
"Out of the 180 animals we've featured, I'm pretty sure the only animals we've really said are genuinely dangerous to people are the mosquito and the Russell's viper," Backshall said.
Over the three series of Deadly 60, Backshall said his search for the deadliest animals had been most fruitful in Australia.
"For me, this place is deadly central, he said. "We've done more programs in Australia than any other destination since we started. You're one of the only places on the planet where there are more venomous snakes than non-venomous snakes.
"You have a fantastic marine life with all of the most fantastic sharks and you obviously have sensational crocodilians.
"You're also very, very proud of your deadly wildlife here; for instance, crocodiles are well protected and well looked after and that's not the case everywhere else in the world."Deadly 60: On a Mission starts Sunday at 5.30pm on ABC1.
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