‘I had to pick myself up and adapt!’ Simon Reeve discusses ‘rough start in life’ and ‘struggles with mental health’

‘I had to pick myself up and adapt!’ Simon Reeve discusses ‘rough start in life’ and ‘struggles with mental health’

Simon Reeve talks about his mental health struggles

Gabrielle Wilde

By Gabrielle Wilde

Published: 22/01/2024

- 11:11

Adventurer Simon Reeve spoke about his new wilderness documentary

Adventurer Simon Reeve has opened up about his "rough start in life" saying that he grew up in a "grey area in London."

In his new show called Wilderness, Reeve travels to the Congo, the Patagonian ice sheets, the Coral Triangle and the Kalahari Desert, to cover the wildlife and the people who live there.

In an interview with Michael Portello on GBNews he revealed that this is the "best job anyone can do" but when he was young he never expected to become a TV presenter.

He explained: "I grew up not that far from here, in a grey area of West London. There's no media in my background at all. I was a very naughty child.

Simon Reeve

Simon Reeve discussed his rough start in life


"And then into my teens, I had a lot of trouble with my head health, with my mental health, as we would say now. I was hopeless at school.

"I flunked out of school with my first exams and I was lost. I had no idea what to do with my life.

"I think we're still very bad in this country at picking up those, particularly young men, who've fallen through the cracks and channeling them and making them productive members of society.

"I was lost for a long time. I think I was very lucky I got a job."

Simon Reeve

Wilderness with Simon Reeve is available to watch on BBC 


When asked whether it had to do with the explorer's own efforts he said: "When the door opens a little bit, you have to be willing, I think, to step through.

"I had to adapt. I had to become a slightly different person. I had to not talk with my West London accent. I had to fit in.

"I started work as a post boy on The Sunday Times, I owe my career to Andrew Neil in many ways who was the editor at the time.

"You're right. When the opportunity came my way, I grasped it and I worked really hard. But I don't know if you agree you have to have that moment of good fortune, opportunity or luck to then make it happen."

Simon Reeve

Reeve admitted when he was young he suffered with his mental health


Even though the author managed to grasp opportunities, it doesn't mean that they are always glamorous.

In his new documentary series Wilderness With Simon Reeve he revealed that his producers "like to inflict pain and suffering" on him.

He said: "They want to inflict a small amount of pain and suffering on you, but not so much that it derails the whole filming.

"Have a small illness, but not a fatal one. That would be bad."

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