Castaway star longs for utopia

Ben Fogle, the heart-throb of the BBC Castaway series, today told of how he is ‘‘itching’’ to get back to a life where ‘‘quality of life is important, not quantity’’.

Ben Fogle, the heart-throb of the BBC Castaway series, today told of how he is ‘‘itching’’ to get back to a life where ‘‘quality of life is important, not quantity’’.

Fogle said returning to life in the city after the tranquillity of Taransay, where the programme was set, had proved a major challenge.

He said he had found it difficult back in London on his first day away from the Hebridean island, struggling with fame, warm temperatures and still air, and feeling ‘‘claustrophobic and self conscious’’.

‘‘On Taransay, our days had revolved around the elements and, more specifically, the wind,’’ he said.

‘‘The first thing I noticed about London was the lack of wind. The air, with its choking exhaust fumes, was still, stale and oppressive.

‘‘Just days earlier, I had been able to recognise a Castaway from over a mile away, simply by their gait or by their jacket.

‘‘Now here I was, surrounded by a seething mass of strangers in a strange landscape.’’

The former Tatler picture editor also revealed that he locked himself out of his home on his first day back, adding: ‘‘On Taransay, there was no stealing and therefore no need for locks and keys. I have since locked my keys in the car six times.’’

He admitted the castaways had arguments during their year on the island and said there were rifts, ‘‘but only as much as one would expect from a diverse group of people thrown together for a year in an unnatural environment’’.

And he said leaving Taransay ‘‘was awful’’.

He wrote: ‘‘It seemed so unfair to abandon everything we had spent so long creating.

‘‘We worked so hard to achieve our little world and now it was all over. We were being sent home, it was heartbreaking. I have only ever experienced the same feeling when being dumped.’’

Fogle told how strangers had embraced him on his return to London and he had experienced an ‘‘unusual 12 months’’ since leaving Taransay on New Year’s Day this year.

He described the year as a ‘‘steep learning curve’’ of television and award ceremonies. Fogle has worked as a TV presenter and a roving reporter for Hello magazine.

Although he said he has finally learned to live with ‘‘the crime and punishment of traffic jams’’ again, he admitted he longs for the white sandy beaches of Taransay, the wild deer and cows.

‘‘My experience has left me itching to get back or at least find my personal Utopia - a simpler existence, where quality of life is important, not quantity.’’

He said he has a book deal to search the world’s most isolated islands, adding: ‘‘Maybe I’ll find what I’m looking for during my journey.

‘‘But for now, I’ll have to make do with Scotland. A part of the country has been in me since my grandfather was born here at the turn of the 20th century.

‘‘It took a hundred years and a new century to realise how deep it ran. One thing is for sure: smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for Hogmanay.’’

Fogle was one of 36 people chosen from 4,000 applicants to take part in Castaway 2000.

He recently returned to Taransay to film a special edition of the BBC’s Countryfile programme and decided to stay for a while at the end of the shoot to explore the island more.

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