David Salmoni is a trained zoologist, an animal trainer, an entertainer and filmmaker, and a TV producer. He is also acclaimed as one of Animal Planet’s foremost predator experts, and now he can add one more title to his repertoire: adventurer.
In the brand new CTV series from Mark Burnett,Expedition Impossible, premiering Thursday, June 23 at 9 p.m. ET, Salmoni leads a group of ordinary Canadians on an extraordinary journey through the harshly beautiful terrain of the Moroccan outback.
Billed as this summer’s most exciting new competition series, Expedition Impossible takes a group of inexperienced contestants and pushes them past their physical and mental limits to attain goals that will have viewers rooting for them episode after episode.
While Salmoni is better known as an animal expert (Living with Tigers, Lions’ Den and Sharks: Are They Hunting Us? are just three documentaries he has hosted and produced), the creators of the show saw something in him that made Salmoni perfect for the job.
“They were looking for someone believable in the role,” Salmoni said in an interview with Cadence. “Someone who has a bit of an adventure background, and a physical fitness background, and luckily for me, I fit both of those things, and also have about a 10-year hosting background on television. So they decided to put me on.”
Comparing the show to something like Eco Challenge meets Survivor, Salmoni says that what is likely to be the biggest draw for viewers is the ordinary nature of the contestants.
“We wanted a cast that was very diverse, and we wanted them just to be everyday people,” he said. “We wanted the viewers to be watching the show and relating with somebody. I feel, like, because the cast is so good, there is somebody in this show that everyone can relate to. When they start going through their hardships and succeeding, and pushing on, and testing their limits, I think the people at home will start going on that adventure with the people they’re relating with. You know, they could eventually go, ‘Oh, I couldn’t do that.’ Or maybe they’ll watch and go, ‘If that guy could do it, I can do it.’”
Salmoni, who was involved in the show from pre-production to post-, says that the adventure tests the limits of the contestants, but that everyone from the crew to the caterers was pushed to their limits.
“This show is the biggest show I’ve ever seen. We had people in Morocco almost nine months before the show went out,” he said. “We’ve got a crew of Canadians that go out and actually test all of the different routes that they possibly could have taken, and really designed this course for people. There was a whole team of challenge-department people that are coming up with all of the mental challenges. Then you’ve got a whole production team up there to cover the teams, and get enough cameras in the right places. Everybody’s job, right down to the catering was very difficult. It was Expedition Impossible for crew and cast.”
But Salmoni gives due credit to the contestants themselves, for taking on all the tough challenges with no previous adventure experience and coming out stronger at the other end.
“I was blown away by these people that I underestimated,” he said. “I think I underestimated more than half of the contestants. I remember watching as they lined up and thinking, some of these people are not going to make it past the first hour, let alone 10 stages of this expedition, and every single one of them impressed me. They all pushed themselves harder than I believed was possible and I was really impressed.”
Expedition Impossible premieres tonight on CTV at 9 p.m. ET, and you can continue to follow the contestants through the 10-part series every Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.