TV adventurer Simon Reeve admitted he gets wound up by viewers who assume he is a “toff”.
The presenter has journeyed around the world fronting travel shows for the BBC, with programmes on far-flung locations including Australia, Cuba and the Caribbean.
Last year Reeve stayed closer to home with a show exploring Cornwall.
The Londoner said while many assume anyone on TV must be from a privileged background, he left school with no qualifications and counts himself lucky to have been so successful.
Reeve, who said being called a toff “did wind me up a little bit,” said he was sharing his story to make people realise how easy it is to take the wrong path.
He said: “I think there is a merit to people knowing, at a time when we’re a very unequal country, that my background was more normal – if you want to put it that way – than most.
“And I managed to leave school with basically no qualifications and went on the dole and was in serious risk of falling into long term unemployment and welfare dependency, and drugs and everything else that you can bloody get when you’re a slightly lost lad growing up on the edge of inner city London.
“And I was lucky! And what I hope, I suppose, partly is that it helps people realise that there but for the grace they can go and to be a little bit more understanding of those who slip off the path and deserve help and guidance to find their way back on.”
Reeve, a best-selling author as well as TV presenter, returns to the screen later this month with Incredible Journeys on BBC Two, which takes a look back at some of the most remote destinations he has visited.
They include the forests of Borneo and the deserts of central Asia. Reeve said he felt “blessed” by his time on the road.
“They have been incredible adventures,” he said. “I have been to some absolutely stunning places on the planet and I’ve been lucky, so blessed, to meet the most astonishing cast of humans around the world and that’s been the best thing about the journey.”
Incredible Journeys With Simon Reeve starts on BBC Two on Sunday January 24.