Christina's TV films & appearances

Review CuttingsChristina has worked extensively on TV and Radio making documentary programmes in Papua New Guinea, Madagascar, Comoros, and Ethiopia. The main TV films she presented were Black Pearls of the South Pacific, Footsteps in Madagascar, and BBC Great River Journeys/Waghi River, which received a Royal preview and won 3 international awards including the BAFTA best documentary.

Her BBC Radio programmes spanned 20 years from 1980 and several were selected for Pick of the Week and one in Pick of the Year.  She has given TV and press interviews in France, Spain, and USA (Good Morning America). In UK she appeared four times as a guest on BBC’s Terry Wogan Show.

Article from The Daily Telegraph
by Carol Thatcher

Adventurous Christina Dodwell is out of the same mould as great inveterate women travellers like Dame Freya Stark.

Christina has spent much of the last ten years wandering around Africa on horseback, white water rafting in Papua New Guinea, canoeing the Congo River and visiting remote river tribes in China.

Now she has put down the survival tips she has learned from these hair-raising and daunting experiences into a book titled “An Explorer’s Handbook: Travel, Survival and Bush Cookery” (Hodder &   Stoughton, £4.95).

“If you are forced to rely on your wits, they sharpen up after a few months,” Christina said.

It is a consumer’s guide, not to bucket shops and restaurants, but to the comparative speeds of pack animals such as yaks, mules, camels and horses.

Christina started writing the book, rather appropriately for a seasoned traveller, in the Hospital for Tropical Diseases.  “They like me in there.  I bring them unusual bugs they can do research on.”

She described the book as a combination of the practical and the absurd with plenty of use to the camper and outdoor enthusiast, even if they may never need to know how to skin a snake, make crocodile kebabs or dine on locusts.

She was born in Nigeria and spent her childhood there where her father was in the Colonial Service.

In her twenties, she worked in London until a bout of itchy feed inspired her to spend a year driving round Africa in a Landrover.  Two of the party eventually made off with the vehicle, stranding Christina and a girlfriend in Kano in northern Nigeria.

We were given two semi-wild horses and a donkey for the luggage.  We had no map, no compass, and learned the hard way, using our sleeping bags as saddles.  I lost count of the days.

“You learn to change your perspective in a hostile environment. You wake up in the morning knowing you’re lost; you’ll be lost all day; and when you sling up the hammock you’ll still be lost; so being lost becomes meaningless.”

She prefers to travel alone but that wasn’t possible for a recent assignment-white water rafting down the Wahgi River in Papua New Guinea for the BBC’s River Journeys series which begins on September 30.

Christina hasn’t got to the blasé “seen one jungle, seen them all” stage and measures herself against a true travellers yardstick: “You’re only as good as you can take care of yourself.”

24 May 1984

TV review from The Times
by Denis Hackett

To call Christina Dodwell intrepid would surely sell her short: intrepidity canonly be the outward sign of the inward compulsion that makes her walk amongst savage-looking peoples in the wilder parts of the earth with the aplomb of a woman who has just entered her giant marrow at the local garden show and knows she cannot be beaten.

Though there was much to command attention in BBC2’s River Journeys series last night she was, undoubtedly, the star, with soft voice and swinging walk, under a hat that might have been bequeathed herby John Wayne, tall confident, all-conquering.

The warriors of the river tribe at Kraimbit, in Papua New Guinea, among whom she had lived previously, were obviously pleased to see her again and they are not at home to anybody. Government visitors have been repelled with spears, arrows and fatal casualties.

But the tribesmen showed their affection for Ms Dodwell by carving the devils crocodile mark on her shoulder to keep her from harm. The cutting ceremony, effected with razor blades, is usually confined to men. The capacity to bear pain establishes status. Ms Dodwell lay there bleeding, gripping a friendly warrior hand. “The cuts are excruciatingly painful”, she said softly and later.

That might have been enough for most but Ms Dodwell then proceeded to attempt a white water run of the Wahgi River with a team of American rafters. The natives wisely call it the Eater of Men, not a sexist but a generic title, Ms Dodwell was obviously at risk. So were the film crew. Three nearly drowned. The Wahgiproved too much but the journey, like the rest of Clive Sydall’s programme, was memorably photographed. Ms Dodwell will be difficult to follow.

1st October 1984


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