sat 07/12/2019

Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild, Series 10, Channel 5 review - living off your wits and below the radar in Sweden | reviews, news & interviews

Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild, Series 10, Channel 5 review - living off your wits and below the radar in Sweden

Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild, Series 10, Channel 5 review - living off your wits and below the radar in Sweden

Perceptive film about an astonishingly independent single mother

Intrepid yet sensitive: Ben Fogle

“I think we all dream of simplifying our lives and reconnecting with nature,” reckons Ben Fogle, and since this was the start of the tenth series of this show, he must have struck a chord with viewers. His first subject was 24-year-old Italian woman Annalisa Vitale, who’d dropped out of university in Italy despite her obvious academic potential and set out to build a life of self-reliance. “People say I wasted my brain, but I think I saved my brain,” she reflected.

Her adventures began in Spain, then she set off across Europe with little more than an old bicycle and a ukelele. For a time she partnered up with a Polish guy who taught her many crucial survival tricks, to the point where she suddenly began to appreciate that she’d arrived where she wanted to be. “It’s not homelessness – the world is your home,” she insisted.

Now she has reached a destination of sorts and is living in a semi-permanent fashion in a cabin in the middle of a Swedish forest. Despite the lack of running water and electricity – though at least there’s an unlimited supply of firewood – she’s making an impressively competent job of raising her 22-month-old son Nico, and since the Swedes are apt to throw away large quantities of fresh food and barely-used gadgets, survival isn’t so difficult (Annalisa has acquired an old van in which she makes dumpster-raids). Any cash she needs for expenses (like petrol) she can raise by busking for a couple of hours (pictured below, Fogle, Annalisa and Nico).

In fact she’s so awesomely self-contained that Fogle was dumbfounded, perhaps even envious. He found it difficult to grasp that she was doing all this unaided and seemed perfectly content to go on doing so, though she does have a little more support than it at first appeared. The family of Nico’s father (with whom she lived for a while before separating) are in regular touch and keep a watchful eye over Annalisa and their grandson, her grandmother declaring supportively that “you should fulfill your dreams.” She has had solid backing from her own parents too, who sold a house they owned in Italy and split the proceeds between Annalisa and her brother.

Annalisa admitted that she should perhaps have been more considerate of her parents’ feelings, but advanced the theory that her embracing of an unconventional lifestyle had actually provided her parents with an opportunity to go through some personal growth of their own (“I’m not convinced,” Fogle confided to the camera). Eventually, Fogle predicted that Annalisa’s current life was just a chapter in a story that still has far to go. He proved himself a shrewd and sensitive interviewer here, and that insight felt like a very valid one.

Fogle found it difficult to grasp that she was doing all this unaided and seemed perfectly content to go on doing so

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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