Writer, TV presenter and explorer Will Millard will share tales from his latest adventures in Indonesia in a talk at Grassington Festival (17 June-2 July), where we’re sure he’ll go down a storm.
Please tell us what you have been up to since last summer?
It has been a really busy year. The last couple of months have all been about West Papua and filming the follow up to my BBC Two series Hunters of the South Seas. The plan with this series is to find and follow a tribal family living within the remotest jungle on the island. Hopefully, in following the drama that unfolds over the course of the next year – their births, marriages, deaths, and unique way of surviving in this extraordinarily hostile environment – our audience will get an insight into a traditional way of life that is in terminal decline the world over. Last summer though I was totally immersed in a source-to-sea descent of South Wales’ River Taff for BBC Four. This river, which was once pivotal to our industrial revolution, was declared biologically dead in the 1980s but has since made the most remarkable comeback – I even managed to catch a big salmon in the City centre of Cardiff! That aside, I’ve also been writing a book all about my attempt to catch a British record freshwater fish. That will be out next year with Penguin – if I ever land the big one.
How would you describe your performance?
It will be an insight into some of the most extraordinary communities on earth: spear-diving, breath holding, sea nomads, and my experiences from the harpooner’s shoulder on the last aboriginal whaling boats in the Pacific. I’ve got plenty of epic clips from my television series and some stunning images, but also I hope it’ll be a chance to show that my life as a filmmaker and adventurer from the last 10 years has been one built largely on hard work and luck. I’m the first to admit that a bespectacled, slightly podgy lad from a small village in the Fens is a bit of an unlikely explorer, but hopefully showing how I got to this point will inspire future generations to get out there and record the incredible human geography of our world.
What are you most looking forward to about speaking at Grassington Festival?
I’ve always hoped I might get asked to speak. The sheer variety of acts is brilliant, and that’s not even taking into account the location. My mum and dad live close, so any opportunity to head to the Dales is one never to be turned down.
Who would you most like to see at this year’s Grassington Festival?
I’m a big fan of colliery bands, so I’d like to catch the Hackney Colliery Band’s unique take on the tradition, then there’s the legendary Stranglers, and Danny the Champion of the World, which was one of my favourite books as a kid. It’ll be a full week, I just hope I can find time.
If you could curate your own festival what would the line up look like (artists dead or alive)?
What a question. I’d have Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath, all in their prime, and perhaps a lecture series from Einstein, Captain Scott and Roald Dahl.
What’s your best festival memory?
I’ve been lucky to go to quite a few, but the best was probably my first proper music festival in 1998 – the Ozzfest in Milton Keynes Bowl with my dad and sister. I couldn’t get over the sheer size of the crowds and it kicked off a lifelong love of heavy metal and live music.
Apart from music, what should the ideal festival have?
Good beer, interesting food, and a friendly atmosphere.