31 October 2016
Reviewed by Dotty Winters
As the parent of a child who is a massive fan of Steve Backshall I jumped at the chance to attend his latest live show, Wild World. As a budding zoologist, my 8 year-old holds Steve in huge esteem and is an avid watcher of all of his television exploits.
The advertising for this show proudly announces that the show is suitable for anyone from 8 to 80, so this seemed like an ideal opportunity to let someone at the lower end of that age bracket give their thoughts.
We watched the show in the luxurious surroundings of Stoke-on-Trent’s Regent Theatre, which is a beautiful, traditional theatre which is well positioned in the centre of Stoke with easy to access to local parking.
As a presenter Steve Backshall is known for his very relaxed and chatty style, and this comes across well in the show. Despite playing to a very big crowd, the whole approach felt very conversational and there were lots of opportunities for people of all ages to ask questions. He kept the show very interactive, encouraging children to shout out the names of some of the creatures as he began to describe them.
Some of the clips used will be familiar to avid fans, but Steve’s informative and often funny live commentary added a new dimension even to clips which we’d seen before. There are certainly some very dramatic segments, most notably a sequence with a polar bear, and one with a rather too inquisitive crocodile which had us all on the edge of our seats (even though we could see Steve there in front of us, very much uneaten by polar bears or crocs). In many ways, this is a very low tech show, just Steve standing on stage with a screen and remote, talking the audience through some of his adventures, but the footage is incredibly impressive, showcasing the real power of nature and mixing the big hitters (sharks, crocs and snakes) with some less famous predators (cassowary and eels). One segment, which featured encounters with sperm whale, was incredibly touching and including some information which even as an avid nature documentary watcher was new to me.
Steve clearly knows his audience well, and some of the clips that were included played well to the sense of humour of the kids in the audience (especially the farting gorilla), but he never patronised or over-simplified his explanations. Keeping that many people, of all ages. engaged at that level for that long is no mean feat, and his experience being prepared for any eventuality came into play in the Q&A section where he had to answer questions which ranged from “What animal are you most scared of” to “How many times can a starfish regenerate its limbs”.
The overall message of the show was one of conservation, but very carefully pitched. Whilst there was some terrifying information about the impact that humans are having on the planet, Steve was also very clear that humans have the power to change things too. The section about protected ocean areas was a great example of this, and my local MP will shortly be receiving the letter which my 8 year has already begun to draft.
This show certainly grabbed everyone’s attention, and I don’t think my son’s fascination with all creatures great and small will diminish anytime soon.
Steve Backshall’s Wild World is currently on tour around the UK. For more information and tour dates visit www.stevebackshall.com.
For other shows at the Regent Theatre in Stoke visit www.atgtickets.com/regent-theatre.
Regent Theatre, Piccadilly, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 1AP | 0844 871 7649