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Solving History with Olly Steeds: Exclusive Interview with Olly Steeds

Posted on 01/16/2010 by Gina in Solving History with Olly Steeds and Cast Interviews

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Olly Steeds from Solving History with Olly Steeds


by Gina Scarpa


Olly Steeds isn't your typical reality star... he's not trying to win a million dollars, or form an alliance, or lose 100 pounds, or find true love. He's trying to undercover some of the world's biggest and best mysteries for the Discovery channel in his new show, Solving History with Olly Steeds. Part investigate reporter and part Indiana Jones, the show will take him everywhere from Europe to Africa to South America. Today, he spoke to RealityWanted in an exclusive interview about his adventures and what viewers can expect from his show.


Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Have you always been interested in travel and exploring, even as a young child?
A. Olly: Yeah, as a kid, my father used to read me these great stories and tell me great stories because he was in the military. As a kid, the wanderlust was there. My mom was a social worker and she said to me, "If you're going to travel, make sure you do something constructive with it." The root of it all is that we're all curious and we've all got something new to learn. One of my earliest memories as a kid was that I had just learned about gravity. I had a brick and a tree and ended up with a brick in the head and blood gushing out of it. My mom wasn't too impressed with that. That's where it all started.


Q. Gina, RealityWanted: You've found yourself in some seriously dangerous situations over the year. What was the scariest moment you've ever been through?
A. Olly: It's difficult really to pick out one. Probably the worst was of my own making in the Gobi Desert about 10 years ago. We were walking across and had to walk 1300km in this great journey of survival. We ran out of food and water and were thrown in jail because the Mongolian military thought we were spies. We managed to break out and I was like, "Where the hell am I gonna go? I'm in the Gobi Desert!" Three weeks after, I stupidly left the rest of the team and went off by myself. It was about 150km alone without food and water. I collapsed thinking, "I won't wake up from this one," and then I heard Sean Connery's voice telling me to get up. It was bizarre.


Q. Gina, RealityWanted: How did the idea come about for Solving History on Discovery?
A. Olly: It was a combination of my two loves and passions - one being an investigative reporter and on the other side, being Indiana Jones. I probably watched too many Indy movies. There was a great opportunity to look at and ask some really tough questions to see if there's any substance to these great mysteries. Also, I get to inject myself into the stories. I get to go off on these mad adventures.


Q. Gina, RealityWanted: In the season premiere, you try to explain the disappearance of the Ark of the Covenant. What was it like to retrace the steps of a story that is so huge, historically and religiously?
A. Olly: You have to be very careful. It's a very sensitive artifact to so many people. There's the romance and the adventure, the Indiana Jones film, and everyone has an iconic understanding of what it is and where it is. It was a great thrill but you have to be careful because, at some point, you come to a point where you're just going up against beliefs. It's very difficult to argue with someone about their beliefs especially when you can't test that. It's a question of respect and understanding.


Q. Gina, RealityWanted: You visited a smuggler in the West Bank, who was understandably nervous about talking on camera. How do you establish and a connection quickly so that you can get the information that you need?
A. Olly: We use two key things. We reduce the size of the crew down so it's very small. We had one cameraman who spoke Arabic. We also have very, very good contacts on the ground ... people who can set things up and reassure them and say, "We're not going to show your face, we're going to take these precautions and minimize the risk to you or your family." We also have to assess all the risks and put some safety precautions in place in case we were stopped or kidnapped.


Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Can you talk about some of the other locations that you're going to visit this season?
A. Olly: The next episode is in Peru... the next two, in fact. One is in the Nazca Desert where there are these phenomenal ancient lines in the sand that some people think are landing lines for aliens. We go to a place that is known as the real Temple of Doom and meet with graverobbers down there. We also visit the Lost City of Gold at El Dorado in the high Andes Mountains to investigate this unmapped, unchartered area. Then, we go into South America to look at the most notorious prison system in the world and if it's possible to break out of these cells.


Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Is there anywhere in the world that you haven't been that you hope to visit soon?
A. Olly: Yes, so many places! I really want to see more of my home country, England. Beyond that, in the great world, I'd love to go to Anartarctica and experience the elemental forces of nature down there. Also, I wish I was in Haiti right now and be able to report on that and raise awareness about the horror that's unfolding there. It's really horrible.


Q. Gina, RealityWanted: What do you hope fans will get out of watching Solving History?
A. Olly: I hope that they enjoy it and enjoy the ride! To quote Hunter S. Thompson, "Buy the ticket, take the ride." It's a great adventure and I'm not afraid to make mistakes along the way because I always do make mistakes. It is a pretty intense series of investigations. I hope we do reveal something new on the subject, instead of making a fluffy archaeological piece. I hope it's an opportunity to explore the modern world because the people that we meet really help us understand and define our journey. I hope the audiences will enjoy the journey.


Solving History with Olly Steeds airs Wednesdays at 10pm ET on Discovery.


(Image courtesy of Discovery)


Follow Gina at twitter.com/ginascarpa


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