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Daredevil Leo’s Everest adventures are screened

Great adventure: Action shots from the Everest expeditions, the first of which will be filmed on BBC4 tonight.

Great adventure: Action shots from the Everest expeditions, the first of which will be filmed on BBC4 tonight.

Canoeing down Mount Everest, ballooning over it and climbing up it without oxygen are just some of the challenges daredevil film maker Leo Dickinson has taken on.

Since the 1970s, the Preston-born man has made almost 70 spectacular films, but admits his greatest achievement to date is surviving to tell the tale.

Now, three of Leo’s breathtaking works have been turned into a BBC series, with the first film due to be shown tonight.

Everest by Canoe, the first in the mini series Endeavor, will be shown on BBC Four at 10pm, and Leo told the Lancashire Evening Post how the world’s highest mountain had become his “playground”.

Leo, originally from Fulwood, said: “I fell in love with photography when my mother gave me her Kodak camera when I was about 14.

“I took that climbing to north Wales, but unfortunately I dropped it 1,000ft down a cliff and it didn’t look very good.

“That started my love of photography and film making. I think every kid needs some kind of kick start in life and that was mine.”

Leo, 66, said he had made 68 films since the 1970s, and made Everest by Canoe in 1976.

It tells the tale of a team of canoeists, who descended the river Dudh Kosi.

The film shows the team battling against the white water, before one member became trapped under a waterfall for almost a minute and was then spat back into the freezing waters.

Two years later, Leo returned to Everest to film mountaineers Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler as they became the first climbers to reach the summit without supplementary oxygen.

And in 1991, Leo and his friend Eric Jones flew over the summit of Everest in a hot air balloon.

Leo said: “We managed to go from Nepal to Everest.

“Then we went about another 90 miles into Tibet and crash landed and broke two ribs and smashed all my camera.

“The pilot completely trashed the balloon because we came in too fast.

“We landed at 16,000ft and the air is half as thin as it is at ground level. We later worked out that we need four times more energy, which in a hot air balloon is heat, to slow it down.

“We survived, but the cameras didn’t and neither did the balloon.

“Neither did my duvet - it ended in a cloud of feathers.”

Leo is now retired in Devon with his wife Mandy.

He said: “I think my highlight is still being here now.

“A lot of these expeditions have had dangerous moments and I’m still down in Devon and living very happyily in retirement.

“The highlight is walking my black Labrador called Sooty.”

He said: “I guess you can almost say that Everest had become my playground - we did as much as we could.

“They all seemed logical things to do at the time.”

Leo’s three films, Everest by Canoe, Everest Without Oxygen and Everest by Balloon will be shown tonight at 10pm, Sunday at 10.45pm and Monday at 9.50pm.

They have been shown before, but have recently been re-edited with a new director’s cut and re-digitised.

 

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