My surname is Gupta (one of the most common names in India) and my late Grandfather was born in Shimla, Northen India. A good start when it comes to program about India. I’m a mountaineer: I climb mountains for a living. In fact I run my own company leading mountain expeditions around the world and to date I’ve lead 14 successful expeditions to the Himalayas in Nepal. Good news when they are looking for someone with knowledge about the Himalayas. A huge slice of luck came when I had a drink with the right person in bar in Val D’isaire, France. Getting your foot in the door can be the hardest bit, I was lucky.
I started my outdoor career post university freelancing for many of the British outdoor companies, working predominately with kids. I gained huge amounts of experience and qualifications and spent all my earnings on organising and going on expeditions to the worlds biggest mountains. These were all stepping stones in my over ongoing continual professional development as an expedition leader. Once just a pipe dream, I finally got the chance to climb Everest in 2013 aged just 26, I enjoyed every minute of it and stood on top of the world on 19th May at 02:50.
So this drink in Val D’isaire, in Evolution Bar I think? It was during a ski holiday with a large group of people most of which I had not met before, many of which worked within the BBC in some capacity. An enthusiastic and animated conversation about the animals myself and my new friend had both seen in the pristine rainforest of Guyana led on to the comment ‘you’d be great on tv’. As with such comments I brushed it off to one side without much consideration.
Four weeks later I sat down in the BBC building with a cup of tea and a brain full of fear as someone very important sat opposite me. I hadn’t prepared any questions or answers because I was told ‘it was just a chat’. It went well and my name was ‘in the pot’ so to speak. Seven months later i’m sat at Heathrow Airport (where I spend a lot of time!) and my phone rings asking if I would be interested in being a presenter on the BBC’s new documentary India: Natures’ Wonderland. After a brief overview of the program I believe my answer was short and sweet ‘yes, definitely’.
Everything about this opportunity sounded superb. Filming in India, talking mainly about things I love: the himalayas, the mountains, glaciers and rivers, and presenting along side 2 very experienced and cool people, Freida Pinto and Liz Bonnin.
The opportunity went cold for a while, the odd email, then the dreaded ‘thank you but no thank you’ email. Never mind, next time I thought. 2 months later I was leading a group in Nepal trekking in to climb the mighty Ama Dablam. At the last teahouse before arriving at Base Camp I checked my emails one last time…
The opportunity was back on!! I sprung into action! In an excited panic, negotiating time differences and desperately trying to remember my Skype password I set up a Skype call. The series Director and Assistant Producer looked back at me all the way from their office in Bristol. I was sitting at just over 4000m looking straight out towards Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam: 3 of the Himalayas most famous big mountains. A unforgettable hour later, I said thanks and good bye. I had got the job.
Filming was in April – and that was an incredible experience.
TV Programs are being broadcasting on September 1st & 8th at 21:00 on BBC2.
More details on the BBC website