Exclusive – Ben Fogle says he was surprised while filming Inside Chernobyl: “I took away a huge amount of hope and optimism”

The presenter says he was pleasantly surprised on his recent travels to Chernobyl.

Inside Chernobyl with Ben Fogle

TV presenter Ben Fogle has taken on a brand new challenge, visiting the radioactive zone of Chernobyl for this new Channel 5 documentary Inside Chernobyl with Ben Fogle.

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In this feature length doc, Ben will spend a week living alone inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone 35 years after the world’s worst nuclear accident.

He’ll uncover its secrets and gain privileged access inside the doomed Control Room 4 where the disaster took place. As well, as gaining entry to the catacombs that make up the Chernobyl plant itself.

Although he had his fears, Ben has admitted he was pleasantly surprised during the trip.

Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, the presenter revealed he felt a sense of “hope” and “optimism” on his travels, despite the very obvious circumstances.

He said: “What I took away was actually a huge amount of hope and optimism, which I think surprised me and hopefully will surprise the viewers.”

For Ben this hope came from seeing how the community recovered after the explosion.

He continued: “It is depressing because you see how one simple mistake cost so many people’s livelihoods and homes and dreams and lives. So, that was depressing. But actually, the more the more time I spent there – which I think is symbolic of everything in life – the more I uncovered the hopeful side of things.

“There was this extraordinary wildlife –  the wolves, the bears and the animals that have returned to Pripyat and the wider exclusion zone. The elderly folks that returned almost immediately, who live kind of pseudo-legally within the exclusion zone and are still alive, any of them in their 70s and 80s, who have way outlived those that were evacuated.”

Ben says he discovered a “great irony” amongst the people pf Pripyat, who yearned to come back to their home.

“It’s kind of interesting that actually it wasn’t just the radiation that killed people. It was depression and there were lots of parallels with COVID obviously right now,” he explained.

“I think there’s a great irony that many people who were evacuated died of broken hearts. They died of depression. They died from the misery of being taken from their homes and the place that they loved to go and live in high rise buildings in faraway places where they had no jobs and family.”

Inside Chernobyl with Ben Fogle
Inside Chernobyl with Ben Fogle
Channel 5

The presenter is hoping viewers will be able to see the positive side from the documentary, and appreciate how the people of Pripyat managed to overcome the disaster and rebuild their community.

He added: “I want people to be reminded to always admit to their mistakes sooner rather than later, but I also think it’s it’s a parable of hope, that actually despite the worst nuclear accident in history, millions of people were able to come together.

“Liquidators were able to put all the money in to build a shield over the dome. Millions of people and billions of pounds have been spent in containing it, and they’ve managed it. It probably shouldn’t have happened in the first place, but I think it’s quite a hopeful parable that actually people working together can actually overcome the worst of disasters.”

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Inside Chernobyl with Ben Fogle is on Channel 5 on Wednesday, March 3rd at 9pm. For something else to watch, check out our TV Guide. Also visit our hub for more Documentaries news.