Todd Sampson puts body on line for new Channel Ten BodyHack series

by admin on July 13th, 2018

filed under 南京夜网

Todd Sampson on location in his new series BodyHack with Todd Sampson. Photo: Channel Ten Going native: Todd Sampson hunting with the Hazda tribe in Tanzania. Photo: Channel Ten
Nanjing Night Net

Todd Sampson came close to his physical and mental breaking point while training with the French Foreign Legion in the Amazon jungle.

It was by far the most difficult of the epic adventures he undertook while filming a new television series to screen on Network Ten later this year.

In BodyHack with Todd Sampson, the opinionated advertising guru and star of the ABC’s The Gruen Transfer steps into the shoes of a hunter-gatherer in Tanzania, becomes a professional cage fighter in New Mexico and overcomes a fear of the open sea in an unassisted sea floor dive in Borneo.

Sampson had a safe word – Baltimore – which he could use to signal to the film crew when any situation got beyond him.

“I was very close, about six times, to that safe word in the Amazon,” he told Fairfax Media, a mere 36 hours back from the tortures of the jungle.

“It nearly killed me. It was unbelievably punishing. I was never dry. I’d wake up at three in the morning and put on soaked clothes having slept in a hammock.”

One night Sampson slept under a venomous snake; in the first hour of filming he seriously burned his hands, “so much so they wanted to pull me from the course, it was that bad”.

BodyHack with Todd Sampson follows the style of his acclaimed science documentary series Redesign My Brain, with Sampson offering himself up as a human guinea pig to sample the lives of extraordinary people and glean lessons for modern life.

The episode in which he followed the Legionnaires into the Amazon on a survival course was intended to test resilience. What Sampson also got was a lesson in managing fear and sleep deprivation.

“The danger at night was from these vampire bats,” Sampson says. “Here’s what he does: he smells your feet [and] if you don’t have socks on he comes down and bites you, and you are dead in 12 hours. He’s got this extreme form of rabies that will kill you. I had tarantulas, I had scorpions walking over my stomach while I was sleeping.”

Sampson’s experiences over six months of filming reads like a boys’ own adventure. He says he came to respect cage fighters as “some of the most extraordinary athletes on the planet”.

“Believe me I needed time to heal,” he says of his turn in the ring. “They couldn’t film me for the next episode because of some of the damage I took.”

Sampson lived with the Hazda, some of the last remaining hunter-gatherers in Africa. “They are before agriculture. They store no food, they have no politics, no law, no hierarchy, no money, no economy. You often in your life wonder what it would be like if you got rid of all the stuff you had, and I got that experience.”

Working as a Himalayan sherpa at high altitude, however, Sampson fared better than his crew who suffered from altitude sickness.

“They couldn’t acclimatise fast enough,” he says. “We had to turn the camera around and put it on them and help them recover and that’s all part of the job of a sherpa. To see them broken down like that was not easy for me.”

Canadian-born Sampson describes himself as an “explorer by heart with an optimism bias”. “I look at challenges and I don’t see the negatives so much as I see the opportunity.”

He’s also a “science nerd”, keenly interested in biology and genetics, and contends he only completed an MBA because he was “confused with what to do with my life”. Sampson has since built a public profile as a sharp-talking panellist on The Gruen Transfer, which returns to the ABC on Wednesday August 3 at 8.30pm.

“Science is often inaccessible for most people,” says Sampson. “It’s got this brand where it’s only for the intellectual or the learned which is such a shame because science is a way of understanding our world and I wanted to bring that to life in an adventure series.

“How we understand our body, how we understand the world around us is relevant to everyone, without exception, and the way to understand people is to walk in their shoes. It’s easy to observe, it’s very difficult to step into their world. I believe that in life, not just in documentary making.”

BodyHack with Todd Sampson will screen on Network Ten later in 2016. 

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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