Reggie Yates: ‘I’m not scared of dealing with racist views’

Reggie Yates admits he found it tough-going when he visited South Africa recently to make his new BBC3 documentary, Extreme South Africa, which premieres on Thursday, 20 February.

As well as hanging out with township gangs to investigate the country’s notorious crime epidemic, which sees around 17,000 murders every year, he also spent a week living rough in a poor white camp, where some residents believe they are the victims of reverse racism following the end of apartheid 20 years ago.

“It was a difficult situation staying in the camp, to put it mildly,” says Reggie. “Some of the people held quite racist views, but I am not scared of putting myself in situations like that.”

The former The Voice presenter admits he was affected emotionally by some of the sights he witnessed on his journey, and his experiences only confirmed he could never live anywhere other than his native London.

“I am a Londoner born and raised, and being somewhere like South Africa only made that even more clear to me,” he says. “It is a beautiful country, but I couldn’t call it home.

“I would be ridiculous to pretend I haven’t been affected by going to places like South Africa or Kenya, which I visited for Comic Relief. It has changed me a hell of a lot in terms of helping others and understanding what is important.”