Eccentric presenter Paul Merton tells TV Times magazine about his latest adventure, and reveals how he ended up being bitten by a tiger in Mexico…

What is it about eccentric people that you like?
“I like eccentrics – people with a different approach to life. When I was just 16, I thought, ‘I don’t want to do a nine-to-five all my life. The idea of travelling on the same train for 50 years fills me with horror.’ So now I’m very impressed by anyone who wants to get away from it all and do something different.”

Can you tell us about some of the characters you meet in your new travel series, Paul Merton’s Adventures (Channel 5, Weds, Oct 19)?
“In Mexico, there was a man called Pepe who kept big cats. I was bitten on the leg by a tiger cub that Pepe introduced me to. It was mad. He had no concept of health and safety whatsoever. He would get into the cage with the tigers and do strange dances in front of them. He has since had the tigers taken off him, and that has definitely saved his life!”

Was it nice to make a programme which was mainly in Britain, after the demands of shooting series in China and India?
“I enjoyed the achievement of making programmes in China and India, but they were very difficult. A three-hour car journey in India is very stressful. You bump along the road and then arrive exhausted. It’s a long way from home. I also fell victim to a stomach bug in India. They shot that series in HD, and I look at it now and think, ‘That morning I was very ill indeed!'”

And what about interviewing the people you meet along the way?
“I get a great buzz out of meeting people. I spent three years working at the employment office in Tooting, where I had to interview 16 people a day. I learned then that listening is key – everything stems from that. If you don’t listen, then an interview will never work.”

Are we right in saying that you’ll be doing a stand-up tour in 2012?
“Yes! This is just what the world needs – another stand-up
tour! I detected a national shortage of stand-up tours and decided I
should remedy that! I felt there was a need for it.”