From coming face-to-face with one of the rarest creatures on earth to a sunrise skinny dip in the North Sea, actor Robson Green has spoken of his pride after filming a new series of a popular television show, which showcases the beauty of his native Northumberland.
The Hexham-born star returns to his home turf to present More Tales from Northumberland, which will air on Mondays on ITV at 8pm, beginning next week.
The prime-time documentary comes on the back of the hugely-successful first series in 2013 and sees him lead viewers through a unique part of Britain that remains close to his heart.
Having visited many of the county’s most famous landmarks on his last trip, this time he’s uncovering the hidden gems of one of the most beautiful parts of England.
Robson explores areas of Northumberland that he has never been to before – and some he didn’t even know existed – from its remote valleys and mystical ruins, to the hidden history of its castles and stately homes.
The series sees Robson take on exciting new challenges, from shipwreck-diving at the Farne Islands to digging for Roman relics at Hadrian’s Wall.
The 50-year-old attended a launch event at Alnwick Playhouse last night, which included an exclusive screening of the first two episodes to a specially-invited audience.
Speaking about his desire to film the second series, he said: “I knew there was lots more to explore and discover about an area I knew and loved well. There are so many wonderful experiences out there in Northumberland.
“One moment I’m up close and personal with a pod of dolphins and then I’m face-to-face with the Chillingham cattle, which are one of the rarest creatures on earth. They’re rarer than the snow leopard and the Chinese panda. They have incredibly sharp horns and can run up to 30mph. If you get too close, they will kill you.”
In the first episode of the second series, Robson discovers some of Northumberland’s best-kept secrets. First off, he heads out into the North Sea with local GP and marine biology lover Ben Burville in search of white-beaked dolphins.
Having reached their target area, it’s a long wait to catch a glimpse of the dolphins. When they finally make an appearance, Robson is thrilled, saying: “Ten to 15 dolphins have just surrounded the boat and are now putting on one of the best displays you’ll ever see.
“Wow, what a sight. They’re strong, powerful swimmers and love swimming in the waves at the bow of the boat. Nobody knows exactly why they do it, but it’s probably just because it’s fun.”
Next, Robson visits Cragside, once the pioneering home of Victorian inventor Lord Armstrong and the first house in the world to be powered by hydroelectricity.
The final leg of Robson’s journey takes him to Druridge Bay as he joins a group of secret skinny-dippers for a very cold naked swim at sunrise.
After following the group into the chilly North Sea, Robson says: “There’s nothing better than starting your morning with a dip in the North Sea. I highly recommend it, everyone should do it once in their lifetime. Now, where’s my clothes?”
In the second episode, Robson tries his hand at Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling at Powburn Show, wild camps in the College Valley and visits the Otterburn military ranges.
Reflecting on his series highlights, he said: “I think it was the dolphins, because it was such a shock. They were huge and there were hundreds of them. I’ve travelled the world, to more than 100 countries, but to know that this sight is on my doorstop was a real shock and surprise.”
He does admit that there were some challenges during filming. He said: “When I tried my hand at Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling, I took on a young teenager who put me to shame. I was not letting him win, he genuinely beat me. I got knocked out in the first round by a youngster. I was devastated!”
The first series drew audiences of almost four million per episode and research showed it provided a great boost to the county’s profile.
A survey carried out by Northumberland County Council after the first series found Northumberland was portrayed in a positive light and more than 91 per cent of people agreed that the county was a great place to visit.
As a result of the programme, 85 per cent of people surveyed said they had been encouraged to find out more about Northumberland and experience it for themselves.
Reflecting on this, Robson said: “The first series was so successful, I was so pleased with the reaction it got nationally.
“If I can contribute in some way to helping Northumberland, that’ll be one of the proudest things I could be associated with.
“There were all these things I knew that were out there that I wanted to tell the world about. I really wanted people to come along and see the best kept secret in England for themselves.”