The Allure Of Deadly 60

16/05/2011 11:44 | Updated 22 May 2015
The allure of Deadly 60BBC

There's an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation in the foyer of the Beck theatre in Hayes. The average age of the crowd is around nine years old, predominantly boys, many of whom are wearing dangerous animal print T-shirts and camouflage trousers.

We are here to see Wild & Live with Steve Backshall, the explorer and host of Deadly 60, the hit CBBC series, in which deadly animals are tracked down and put in order of deadliness.

My five-year-old's craze for Deadly 60 begun last summer. We switched on the TV one morning expecting cartoons and instead were gripped by this fast-paced, nature programme presented by a handsome adventurer swiping his way through the Australian undergrowth, over-turning stones in search of deadly spiders and scorpions. My son was instantly hooked.

For those new to Deadly 60, it's presented by the naturalist Steve Backshall – the new David Attenborough – with bigger muscles and a tendency to rip his shirt off. The high-octane show is shot in a reality style format, with fast-paced editing and a contemporary soundtrack, giving a sense of closeness and raw adventure that is unique to nature programming.

Swamps, oceans, deepest darkest jungle, desert and everyday suburban Australia - the Deadly 60 team have covered some of the wildest and most remote parts of the world in their search for dangerous and venomous animals. Backshall has even been bitten by a caiman alligator in his efforts to get up close with nature's wildest animals.

The show has been sold to 18 countries around the world, spin-off books have become best seller, there are trading cards to collect and the spin-off Wild & Live shows sold out in days across the country.

Steve Backshall has a whopping great fanbase – and unlike many kids' shows parents are fans of Deadly 60 too.

It has fired six to 12-year-old imaginations like no show before it – 3.2 million children have watched it; a staggering 66 per cent of the age range. He's a unique voice in today's sparkly-faced TV landscape.

While we all as parents naturally protect our children from danger and tend to contain adventure to playgrounds, soft-play centre and controlled holiday situations, Backshall represents the total opposite. He seeks out danger, he travels to far flung places, he sleeps rough under the jungle canopy, he treads on alligators, he stakes out big snakes, holds tiny venomous spiders and large spiky reptiles in his hands.

He's not afraid of anything. He's fearless but also has a deep respect and passion for conservation and the natural world. And what better message could you send out to your kids – to explore, investigate, and find adventure all around you outdoors in the natural environment.

Deadly 60 also delivers a powerful message about conservation and protecting species which resonates with children. Nature's most deadly predators are in fact humans not the wild animals and this message is embedded in the show.

Back in Beck theatre, the audience waits with bated breath for Backshall's stage entrance. Hobbling on stage on crutches is the last thing we expect. Recovering from a nasty climbing accident, the explorer has recently had an operation on his ankle, which is currently held together with metal pins and cased in a very uncomfortable frame. He was reluctant to cancel his tour as didn't want to let down his fans.

For two hours he answers questions, handles animals and talks though the different habitats and wild species to a gripped audience. If the success of the show and popularity of Backshall is anything to go by we are seeing a new generation of young nature buffs with a passion for adventure and commitment to protecting endangered species around the world – and that's no bad thing.

Are your children fans of Deadly 60?

Do car conversations and dinner table chats involve fascinating facts about animals you may never have heard of before?


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