Posted on September 1, 2018
Jeremy Wade has climbed onto the back of a tiger shark.
Jeremy Wade is not just fucking with this tiger shark. He would never do that. Jeremy Wade has a deep respect for sharks. For all underwater animals.
I imagine him sitting in a producer’s office. They break the news to him that is show will be called River Monsters.
He is torn. He knows this name will be good for ratings but he doesn’t view these beasts as monsters. He wants to humanise them.
I watch River Monsters and it feels like Jeremy Wade cares about me likes he cares for the Golden mahseer, the Spiny softshell turtle, the European zander. He looks at me, through the TV, he is tired, his face wet from salt sea spray, he is grizzled. He does not get excited like those hacks like Steve from Deadly60. Jeremy Wade would never wrap an anaconda around his neck for the cheap thrill of viewers. He would never poke a fat tailed scorpion while crowing that it has made it into an arbitrary list of deadly animals. Jeremy Wade has class.
The wikipedia page for Deadly60 reads like the editor got tired of Steve. The first entries are detailed – “Steve Backshall looks at hippopotamuses, meeting a very special hippo called Jessica before kayaking to look for more hippos. He gets trapped by two hippos in a river but his crew manages to save him.” It continues….
By episode 13 – “This episode continues the search for deadly animals in the United Kingdom”. The featured animal is an otter.
Jeremy Wade has made 10 seasons of River Monsters. These seasons are a gift to the world. Jeremy Wade speaks to me – he says “are you not entertained Emily?” he talks about the giant catfish and it feels like a love letter. To me.
Jeremy Wade is tired. He had a bad dive. His lungs hurt. He’s scared. But he knows I want him to go down again. I need to see the scary fish he’s talking about. I need it. From my hotel room bed I urge him on. PLEASE JEREMY WADE. You can do this. I believe in you. He nods at me, he acknowledges that he needs this footage. I need the footage.
Does he drink deep brown spirits at night? Does he sigh deeply, alone, and wish he had not committed his life to showing me scary fishes? Is he trapped in this endless cycle of exhausting night dives, his heart beating through his chest, thinking of the life he could have had? He has no choice now but to entertain me. He must put his life at risk for me.
He puts on a snorkel and climbs into a black green tank. Inside is a saltwater crocodile. It is very hard to use a snorkel I think. I tried once and I kept getting water in the hole. The water in the tank Jeremy Wade is in is very dirty. But that’s probably the least of his problems really given there’s a crocodile in there.
It takes 35 hours to film a one hour episode of River Monsters. Jeremy Wade sleeps in a shack on the beach. The urinal is outside. He calls it a U-Ry-Nill because he is more cultured than me. He wants me to respect these animals. To care about the environment. To understand why animals attack.
Sometimes in the dead of night I wake up and my mind is screaming. My chest aches. I feel like I’m at the bottom of the ocean. I will never be able to be the person I want to be. I fear – is this my life? Will I always feel like this? Will I ever be better? Will it always hurt? Will I ever be able to change the voice in my head that tells me I am not worth shit.
Jeremy Wade reaches into my brain.
I had a voice in my head
when I climbed onto the back of a tiger shark in Bermuda.
It served a purpose, I was not gratuitously doing this.
The shark had been upside down after being tagged for research purposes.
My brain begins to quiet so I can hear what Jeremy Wade is saying to me.
The shark can become confused. If you hold on it will swim the right way.
The screaming in my head becomes a hum. Jeremy Wade’s voice fills me.
The voice in my head was telling me to let go. But I remembered the instructions I was given.
Just hold on.