Nigel Marven Performs at the Greenwich Theatre with Unusual Co-Stars...

AN alligator, a Burmese python, boa constrictor, tarantula and a snapping turtle will all be making their stage debuts at Greenwich Theatre on Sunday evening, September 18.

They're the much-loved long-term pets of intrepid TV wildlife celebrity Nigel Marven, who's the latest "talking head" to star in the sell-out series at the theatre on Crooms Hill.

Nigel's show has proved a big hit with cruise ship audiences but this will be his first time at a British theatre. "The animals are used to people so they won't be frightened, even when I head up and down the aisles for people to get up close. The animals will be in boxes or bags, so they won't be dangerous. On the cruises ships I worked with other people's pets but here I'll be able to introduce some of my own, which is much more enjoyable."

"I'll be trying to get across how beautiful and wonderful animals are. I won't be bringing any birds but I'll be showing some funny clips of penguins. The clips will basically be the humourous and most dangerous moments from my career in wildlife film making."

"The dangerous bits include being bitten by a green pit viper in Malaysia two years ago. Luckily the snake did not inject too much venom, but back in the 1980s the spitting venom from a cobra meant three days in hospital."

None of his experiences have dimmed Nigel's great love of animals. "I love it when children write to me and say I've inspired them about the natural world and how they want to be scientists when they grow up," said Nigel.

"I hope my passion for the natural world also inspires people to help with conservation. I will talk a little bit about how things are declining and how some animals are getting rarer and rarer. It won't be doom and gloom but I hope people go away with the message that we have a wonderful natural world and we must do all we can to protect it."

Nigel - who raised £20,000 for the Whale and Dolphin Society by running the 2008 London Marathon - is probably best known for his Prehistoric Park programme, narrated by David Jason, on ITV in 2006. "I will be talking a little bit about that, time traveling back to the dinosaurs, and showing a few clips. I'm sure it will make it very much a family show.

"My new series, called Ten Deadliest Snakes, will be shown on National Geographic TV in January, but right now I'm really looking forward to Greenwich Theatre. People really enjoyed it on the cruise ships and that's what made me want to take it further."

James Haddrell, the theatre's artistic and executive director, said: "This year we've been experimenting with a series that we called Talking Heads with people like Germaine Greer, James Rhodes and Professor Robert Winston. They've sold really well and it's highlighted to us that theatre can also be about bringing people together for a shared experience.

"The opportunity to see a famous or popular figure talking about their lives gives people the chance to enjoy that experience and to ask questions to find out more. With Nigel we're looking forward to the kind of event that people will talk about for a long time afterwards."

*An evening with wildlife expert Nigel Marven, Sunday, September 18, 6pm. Suitable for all ages. Go for ticket prices and more details.

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