DOUG Allan once had a run-in with a Walrus. It grabbed him from behind and wrapped its flippers around his thighs.

Doug said: “It was a complete surprise – it grabbed me and I pushed him with my camera. I don’t think I would be alive if I hadn’t reacted quickly.”

Luckily for us, Doug was fortunate enough to escape and lives to tell his tales about filming all sorts of wild life during his career as a cameraman. He’ll be telling his stories during his new tour – Doug Allan: Wild Images, Wild Life.

Doug Allan is a multi-award-winning cameraman with five Bafta and eight Emmy Awards. He has worked on Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Frozen Planet and Brian Cox’s Forces of Nature.

As a child, Doug began snorkelling and diving while at school. He studied Marine Biology at university, but decided he’d rather follow expeditions than pure science. In 1976 he had his first chance to work in the Antarctic.

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In 1981 the BBC had a place for a film crew on the Royal Navy’s HMS Endurance, to film in the Antarctic for David Attenborough’s second mega series Living Planet. David was on the ship, which had scheduled a visit to the island where Doug was working as a scientist and diver. Doug took him and his crew to locations where they would get the best views of the wildlife. Doug reckoned the cameraman filming with David had the perfect job that involved all of his passions. He asked David and the others for advice.

Doug said: “It was just one fascination on top of another that led me to where I am now. Working on TV series like Blue Planet was amazing. Shows like this are very high end, they have good budgets and that means the camera crews can to try things that few others would ever experience.

“Face to face with mammals is amazing, and I vividly remember encounters with humpback whales. There was one female we could always recognise from the black and white pattern on the underside of her tail. In the beginning she was a little wary, but after a week or so she was super friendly and came real close. Lovely, wonderful experiences.”

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There have also been moments in Doug’s career that haven’t been so successful. It takes eight days to come back with one minute of footage that will make it to the screen, so it takes roughly 400 days of filming to come back with one episode of Blue Planet.

Doug explained: “For every series, we’re asked for different shots and different animals and so you do spend a lot of time in cold or hot places. But with enough experience and the right preparation you try to be as comfortable as possible.

“We discuss everything that could be potentially hazardous, so we can anticipate what might happen. There are many potential challenges when working in the Arctic or underwater – extreme cold, sea conditions, visibility underwater, dangerous animals and all the rest. You have to think and plan ahead carefully. ”

Working with the natural world is Doug’s greatest pleasure. But most of us aren’t so lucky.

Doug added: “I think everyone has this deep connection with the natural world but few get the chance nowadays to appreciate it – we spend too much time in an artificial urban world. If we all felt part of nature rather than divorced from it, I’m sure we wouldn’t have so many environmental problems. That’s why I encourage everyone to go out, rediscover nature and learn how much we depend on nature’s clean air and water.

“You can’t spend time going back and forth to the Antarctic without noticing changes, a glacier will have shrunk, a penguin colony smaller than it used to be. It is a huge concern. Back in the late 1980’s in the Arctic, it was always snow in spring, but by the 2000’s that snow in May was now falling as rain. The melt on land and the breakup of the sea ice was happening earlier every year. I’ve witnessed those changes myself.

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“I’ll be telling loads of exciting new stories from behind the scenes, but I’m also hoping people take away a fresh sense of connection to our planet, an empathy and understanding of it, so they see the urgency about tackling climate change. The decisions we have to take won’t be easy, but there are solutions and I’ll be looking at them too.”

To see Doug on tour at The Octagon Theatre in Yeovil on September 21 then visit www.octagontheatre.co.uk or call 01935 422884.

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