Whilst he might be dressed for a weekend walk around the Yorkshire Dales, Ben Fogle is on serious business here, journalistic business. It turns out our favourite outdoors adventurer has a knack for getting the goss. Well, at least if that goss is finding out why people have binned the day job, ripped up the mortgage and moved into the wilderness.
This series is on its thirteenth season now, a testament to its success and status as one of Channel 5’s most loved and thoughtful shows. And it’s no surprise really, the series’ formula is a winner. Fogle ventures into the back arse of nowhere to meet people who have left modern life behind them and gone off the grid for good. Cue scenes of foraging, faecal composting and cattle rearing.
The reasons people have for going recluse are varied, and range from entirely logical to absolutely nutty. And naturally, for some the isolation has gone to their head. But that’s nothing Fogle can’t handle – he is consistently patient, non-judgemental and curious, three things that make those being interviewed comfortable, and willing to open up about their non-conventional lives.
The latest season has some fascinating stories, like the married couple Matthew and Charis who are living sustainably on the side of a Pembrokeshire mountain, and former filmmaker Denni who moved his family to Iceland.
It’s a profound and captivating programme, and has team Must wondering whether we could operate out of the Shetland islands or The Galapagos? Must getaway?
Previous seasons have been met with praise from the critics, with The Times’ Chris Bennion calling Fogle “Louis Theroux in a sensible cagoule.” Tim Dowling in The Guardian also had praise for Fogle, whom he says “has a natural, guarded patience with strange and sometimes selfish people.” And clearly this likeability makes for good TV, as Christopher Stevens of the Daily Mail called Lives in the Wild “the best documentary series on Channel Five.”
First shown April 2013. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.