Ross Kemp meets the Taliban as he undertakes a third tour of Afghanistan!

Ross Kemp is no stranger to facing danger in Afghanistan. In his two previous visits to the country for Sky1HD, the actor-turned-presenter has escaped death on several occasions, once when a bomb exploded only yards away, killing a British soldier.

The 47-year-old’s latest series, Ross Kemp Back On The Frontline (Monday, November 14, 9pm), sees him take his life in his hands once more this week as he returns for a third visit and spends time not only with British and US troops, but also with the Taliban fighters who have come so close to killing him in the past.

TV&Satellite Week magazine caught up with him to find out more…

What’s your fascination with Afghanistan?
“I’ve spent lots of my life there now and I’ve seen young men lose their lives there. I’m very passionate about the place – I’ve nearly died out there a couple of times myself in the past.”

How do this series differ from your two previous ones?
“With this one I want to try to explain the complications of Afghanistan. As a film-maker it’s easier to get into an ambush or stay on the ground for seven days’ combat-hopping and get an hour’s television than it is to sit down with all the people who have been involved and try to unravel this bird’s nest of fishing lines to try to understand exactly why we were there.”

That’s a timely thing to do as we approach the moment when our troops are going to be pulled out…
“Yes, that’s the point. When we come to leave, we need to be able to say that the legacy we leave behind was worth the sacrifices that have been made by the families who have lost loved ones and by the young men who have lost limbs and eyes or who are scarred in ways that we don’t even know yet.”

You talk to the Taliban as well this time, don’t you?
“Yes. We talk to them on several occasions, both to the man who is their official spokesman and some of those serving long sentences at Pul-e-Charki prison for their involvement with the Taliban. Three of the Taliban people we interview had seen our previous programmes. They said to me I looked scared in the previous programmes. I told them I was.”

What impression did you form of them?
“People are going to find this shocking, but some of the things the Taliban say I find myself agreeing with. They say the Afghan ruling regime is corrupt and I say: ‘Yes, it is.’ They say: ‘We want you out of our country, you shouldn’t be here’, and I think: ‘No, we shouldn’t really, it’s their country…’”

What’s your feeling about the fact our troops are going to pull out?
“The major question that we ask in this series is: Is it practical to believe that by the end of 2014 that Afghanistan will be able to stand up on its own two feet to counter the Taliban?”

What’s the answer to that?
“At the moment, the jury is out. There’s three years to go yet and an awful lot can happen in that time.”