Romesh Ranganathan re-visits some of his hair-raising adventures

Comedian and presenter Romesh Ranganathan re-lives his travel adventures from the safety of his sofa in a new series for BBC2

Mongolia, Columbia and the Arctic were among the far-flung destinations comedian and presenter Romesh Ranganathan visited for his travelogue show.

Now, in a new three part series, Misadventures From My Sofa, he is going to be re-living some of his highlights and chatting to his co-hosts who took him under their wing, all from the safety of his sofa.

“It’s like a best-of series, where I get to catch up with the co-hosts and we’ve also got lots of unseen footage to show too,” says Romesh when we speak to him at his home in West Sussex via zoom.

Attending a voodoo ceremony in Haiti, scaling cliffs in Ethiopia, hanging out with rhinos in Zimbabwe and getting a tattoo in Albania all featured on his travels.

Here in an exclusive interview with What’s On TV, Romesh, shares his highlights and the moments  he feared for his life!

Romesh Ranganathan

Romesh Ranganathan talks exclusively to What’s On TV….

What’s On TV: What were your some of your biggest travel highlights from the series?

Romesh Ranganathan: “Going to the Arctic and camping out on the edge of the frozen ocean in tents was incredible. And visiting Ethiopa was another one that really stood out. The moments that always stick with you are the ones that defied your expectations. So for example Ethiopia, we’ve all got Live Aid and famine ingrained into our psyche. I really didn’t expect to fall in love with the country as much as I did.”

You cover Zimbabwe in the first episode. What was your African highlight?

RR: “Well, sitting next to Victoria Falls in the water was incredible but also utterly terrifying. The water was teaming with those little fish that like nibbling your feet, like the ones you get in those foot spa places. What you really don’t want when you’re sitting by the edge of a sheer drop is to recoil away from nibbling fish! There were a lot of challenges to contend with. When you watch it, you just see the stunning view and you think, ‘Wow that looks amazing’, but actually being sat there I was also dealing with the fact that I thought I might die, so it was a combination of emotions.”

You really seemed to bond with Chipo your co-host and guide in Zimbabwe. You two had a lot of laughs together…

RR: “Yes, from an egotistical perspective she was absolutely the best person you could ever hang out with because she found everything I did or said incredibly funny. Chipo was great. She was such a welcoming host, all the hosts were great. The one thing they all had in common was that after every single show aired on TV, I’d have to sift through loads of tweets from viewers saying my co-hosts were naturally funnier than me and more engaging, so that was annoying.”

What animal encounters from your travels did you enjoy the most?

RR: “I love wildlife so going to see the rhinos in Zimbabwe was a pretty incredible experience and the polar bear in the Arctic was absolutely insane. There is something about seeing an animal like that in its natural habitat that is just incredible. Camping in the Arctic was tough in terms of the freezing temperatures and also the food because I’m vegan and was basically living off cucumber and bread. I was in a bit of a downward spiral but then seeing that polar bear was just amazing. It was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.”

Romesh Ranganathan

Romesh Ranganathan in Haiti

You have plenty of hair-raising experiences in the series. What was the most frightening?

RR: “There were lots of terrifying moments. Jumping off a cliff into a rock pool in Haiti was horrific in terms of the fear factor. The team told me to go up and said, ‘If you don’t feel ok about it then you can come back down’. But the climb up was so treacherous I thought, ‘Well at least jumping off is going to be quicker!’ They kept saying, ‘Make sure you feel sure about it before you do it.’ I really didn’t feel sure about it but I also thought, ‘I can’t spend the rest of the day up here, there’s going to come a point when the camera starts running out of batteries. I’m going to have to jump.’ It was terrifying.”

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Health and safety don’t seem to feature heavily on any of your adventures. Would you say that’s true?

RR: “I don’t know. They keep telling me that they’ve checked everything out but then you look around nervously and people are kind of shrugging. Having said that, when we went to Ethiopia and we climbed up this big cliff face to get to the church, I was there with a hard hat on, all the ropes and climbing gear, I was talking to camera about how dangerous and nerve-wracking it was and then this Ethiopian kid just hurried past me in shorts and trainers like a mountain goat. That properly undermined the danger of the situation!”

Romesh Ranganathan

Romesh was terrified when he had to jump from a rocky outcrop into the Bassin Bleu in Haiti

Do you think having to do things that scare you in far-flung locations has made you braver? Would you be up for going on a more adventurous holiday now?

RR: “No! The truth is, it’s not changed my taste in holidays in the slightest. I’m still somebody who likes his creature comforts. Every time I come back off these trips I think to myself, ‘I really want to do more of these adventurous things because I really did enjoy that’ but then when it comes to the point of booking something I just go back to the same s**t I’ve always done. I do think when my kids are a bit older, I’d be inclined to take them on something a bit more adventurous but if you’re going to ask me where I’m going on holiday next, the answer is, Portugal, the Algarve……again!”

One of the most unexpected things you did was get a tattoo in Albania of the national flag….

RR: “Well yes and that tattoo has really helped me out actually. Whenever I go somewhere and there’s an Albanian person there they immediately treat me like an absolute legend. I did think maybe I’d get it covered up one day because it does seem a bit random having the Albanian national flag, but I’ve still got it. I don’t really mind what I have tattooed, not to undermine the significance of the Albanian flag of course!”

Are there plans for a third series of Misadventures when things start getting back to normal?

RR: “Yes, we are supposed to be doing another one. We’ve got a really long list of countries that we could potentially go to but we’re subject to the rigours of whatever we’re allowed to do. I’d quite like to go to the Middle East and I’d quite like to go to places that are super obscure that no-one will have ever heard of.”

How have you been finding lockdown? You seem to have been busier than ever filming the Ranganation from your garage. Are you reluctant to return to studios now?

RR: “I don’t think my wife and kids will want me to make another TV show from the house. Thankfully we’ve got the garage but just having me around all the time, working on scripts, leaving things lying around, having zoom meetings, my wife found it absolutely unbearable! She said to me, ‘It would nice to be able to walk into one room of the house where you’re not sat on your laptop doing some kind of f****g broadcast!’ I mean she said it in a jokey way, I don’t want to give you the impression my marriage is ending. What I would say is, the catering is going to have to be incredible at all future work meetings to make me leave my house.”

Romesh Ranganathan

Romesh Ranganathan on a beach in Haiti

You’re supposed to be going on tour next year aren’t you?

RR: “Yeah, I was already in the middle of the second leg of the tour when lockdown happened. Everything is so mad now it’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen. I don’t think anyone has really got any clue. So provisionally the tour is next year but I don’t know, maybe stand up comedy is over!”

Oh no. Don’t say that! But you’ll be in the Algarve at some point, so that is one thing we do know

RR: “Listen, apocalypse or not, I’ll be back in the Algarve!”

Misadventures From My Sofa – fronted by Romesh Ranganathanbegins – on BBC2 on Sunday 9pm

Pictures: (C) Rumpus Media

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