The DIY SOS host returns in Nick Knowles' Amazing Railroad Adventures

The DIY SOS host returns in Nick Knowles’ Amazing Railroad Adventures

Nick Knowles wants to challenge himself by traveling (Image: Getty Images/Metro.co.uk)

The TV presenter, 60, is looking forward to Christmas, giddy and never expects, as a alderman kid from Southall, to get paid to travel the world.

Excited for Christmas?

I used to have birthdays on the way because I usually work. Don’t forget, at Christmas it was a delicious lunch on the M40 services.

This year is beautiful because I will be with my children. My family is spread out far and wide, so I will be spending it in the Cotswolds, Windsor, and Hemel Hempstead.

where do you live?

My ex-wife and son moved to the Cotswolds four years ago and I wanted to be closer to him, so I moved too, in fact I wish I had done so years ago.

Quaint and laid-back Cotswolds (Image: Getty Images)

I live a quiet life in a little cabin in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by horses and fields. It’s nice. It turns out that sitting in the garden with a cup of Earl Gray watching the sun go down is one of the things I love most in life.

Most people will know you from DIY SOS. Your new travel show, Nick Knowles’ Incredible Railroad Adventures, is a complete reinvention for you, right?

Over the years, I’ve gotten into all sorts of places: history, interviews, written a movie, done quiz shows, and natural history.

I did many holiday programs at the feast. I’ve been wanting to do more travel shows for a while, so it was actually a very deliberate move.

Is it scary to follow in the footsteps of TV adventurers like Michael Palin?

I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think I could do something in a slightly different space. Michael Palin was brilliant about it, but it was in his time, because the world was a different place back then.

Seasoned traveler Michael Palin in front of a collapsed building in Mosul, Iraq (Photo: ITN)

Even the clothes are different. When you look at other adventurers, you will find almost a uniform with a large scarf. I do not want it. I wanted to sit out in the landscape and wear what the locals wear, so I was a little more sympathetic rather than just traveling.

How is it different from other travel packages?

Channel 5 wanted to expand the way I talk to people on a travel show, but I also wanted to create something very cinematic.

Over six episodes I visit Peru, Mexico, Alaska, Norway, Vietnam and Malaysia. It was as if all the birthdays came at once.

What is one of the highlights?

In the opening episode they let me join their archaeological digs in Peru. They were scraping down a hole and pulled out a piece of pottery.

It was a small brown patch, but when they cleaned it up a beautifully painted face appeared. It was from the pre-Inca era and part of the shaman’s bowl.

It was great to get my hands on something that hadn’t been touched in 1,500 years.

Nick went to Cusco, near Machu Picchu, as part of his visit to Peru (Image: Getty Images)

You suffer from vertigo – how do you deal with your travels?

I have weak knees, feel sick to my stomach and have a slightly swollen head. In Mexico, I shot a little bit on the Copper Canyon Railroad on the edge of a 3,000-foot cliff. But part of traveling is challenging yourself and I want my kids to see that no matter what you’re not comfortable with, you gotta go.

If you see someone like Bear Grylls doing difficult things, he was trained by the SAS, so he should be able to do that. But if you take someone like me — who’s 60 and doesn’t fancy it — I think that’s more interesting.

Where did your love for trains come from?

from my father. We lived in Southall in London and he would take me to a metal footbridge with holes in the middle. We watched the steam locomotives run below and disappear into a cloud of steam.

Nick has loved steam locomotives since he was a child (Image: Getty Images)

What’s the hardest part about getting away?

I want to be a good father as much as I can be. My youngest is 8 and we do a lot of Zoom calls when I’m away and he sends me little videos. He has a big map in his bedroom, and when I get home we go through the places I’ve been.

What’s good about DIY SOS?

In modern life, it’s easy to believe it’s a dog-eating world. When you get 300 tradesmen attending for free, all materials are donated and we build a nursing home, hospital garden or veterans street, it reminds everyone that, given the opportunity to do something positive, most people will.

Even Princes William and Harry came out to help…

They have helped convert some abandoned buildings for Armed Forces Veterans. I am fond of both boys and at that point they had an amazing relationship where they managed to accomplish so much.

Can you imagine your teenage self in the career you ended up with?

Oh God, no. I grew up on a council estate in west London, and the chances of this kid doing the things I did, traveling to the places I’ve been, meeting prime ministers, presidents and royals, is unimaginable.

The Incredible Railway Adventures of Nick Knowles airs on Channel 5 on Fridays at 8pm

more : Nick Knowles and Jeremy Vine’s Christmas Market Feud Spoils Festive Joy: “I’m Sorry Honey, Were You Saying Something?”

more : Nick Knowles reveals the struggles of DIY SOS Children in Need especially after a ‘huge’ project was swept away and stars like Rylan Clark were called in to help


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