61. Will Geddes; ‘The Real James Bond’ on Iraq, Afghanistan, Movies and Hollywood Stars - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 61
March 29 , 2019

61. Will Geddes; ‘The Real James Bond’ on Iraq, Afghanistan, Movies and Hollywood Stars

As one of the world’s top specialists in counter terrorism, kidnap and personal security Will Geddes, aka ‘the Real James Bond or the real bodyguard’, has worked in hostile environments including Iraq, Afghanistan and… Hollywood. He felt most scared on the road from Basra to Baghdad, most happy in New York City and a relaxing break form work turned into a search and rescue operation in the 2004 tsunami. With close and personal connections to so many famous people, none of whom he can tell us about it’s an insightful yet delightful conversation with Will Geddes.


On this episode we cover:


Will having just come from breakfast with an action movie star

Celebrities’ failed disguises

Reece Witherspoon in the gym

A-listers blending into the crowd

Security needing to blend into the crowd

The ‘man mountain’ bodyguard

Policemen looking a lot smaller

Chubby police!

Accidental fat shaming

Being a child of the 70s being brought up on Spam

Mince and potatoes and flying saucer sweets

How to get into the bodyguard business

Always wanting a Blue Peter badge

How to get into the Moulin Rouge

Fighting with Legionnaires in Paris

How most Legionnaires are Scousers

Being ‘the real James Bond’

And the ‘the real Bodyguard

Roger Moore versus Daniel Craig and Idris Elba

Ian Fleming and Jamaica

Being good at diverting the conversation

Cloning Lisa’s identity to go shoe shopping for his wife

Being invaded by the security service as we speak

Not being in the military

Military men going into security

Taking him a long time to get some credibility

Studying martial arts from age 7

His Dad being a boxer and in the army

The brutal nature of Judo at school in the 70s

Training in Hong Kong, Japan and Indonesia

Leaving school with only four o-levels

Getting involved with an ex-parachute regiment partner

Developing corporate self defence training

Female-dominated industries like PR and advertising

Dar Es Salaam, Cape Town

Recruiting legendary ex-military and SAS for bodyguards

Growing in international corporate protection

Now having bases in over 42 countries

Bad timing when travelling

How a relaxing holiday turning into a tsunami rescue in Thailand in 2004

The force of the the tsunami sweeping him off his feet

The Amanpuri and The Laguna Beach in Phuket

Being on Sky News live from the tsunami

Watching the waves come in from the top of the hill

Searching for the missing and the dead

Escaping death in the hotel where everyone was killed

Identifying bodies in temples

Becoming hardened working in his industry

‘What is seen can never be unseen’

The traumatic recording of the Christchurch terrorist attack

Fearing for his own safety

Training executives for dangerous encounters overseas

How the veterans are often a bigger risk than the newbies

The danger of becoming complacent

West Africa’s risk of kidnapping

The six month rule

The importance of ‘situational awareness’

Emboldened travellers in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia

How corporations keep quiet about kidnapping

How companies keep quiet about having kidnap insurance!

The most hostile environment he’s been in

Balham in London and Stretford in Manchester

Growing up in Catford and Forest Hill

Having safe havens in Iraq in 2003

How the Iraq liberation was the beginning of the chaos

Travelling from Basra to Baghdad on a weekly basis

Driving the MSR Tampa (like the M1!)

Running away from highway bandits waiting to ambush them

Like being in a scene in Mad Max 2

Stopping at Pizza Hut in Basra

SAS scoffing pizza

John Simpson’s and Levison Wood’s tales from Iraq

How the liberation process was ridiculous

The Art of War by Sun Tzu 

Lawlessness amongst all sides leading to shallow graves

The Blackwater incident raising the profile of private contractors

Some of the shameful activities of private contractors in Iraq

Understanding how potential extremists were influenced

Owning Bengal cats

Being nursemaid and father confessor to Hollywood stars

Not being able to admit to knowing Matt Damon

Working with very big names

Working on movies with Gerard Butler

Trading movie stories with Andy McNab

London has Fallen with Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Charlotte Riley (Tom Hardy’s wife)

Threatening Gerard Butler into coming on the podcast (well, Lisa wants him to)

Gerry – we’re coming after you

Rebuilding St Paul’s Cathedral in Bulgaria

Gerard Butler persuading Will’s wife on the phone

Quick fire

Whether he has a gun

Having a ‘grab bag’ by the door so he fly abroad at any given moment

How all you need is a passport and a credit card

How travelling with hand luggage in insecure markets is a good idea

How to spot a criminal at an airport

Lisa carrying flowers and chocolates

Using your instinct to identify threats

Being ‘situationally aware’ not paranoid

How we are too absorbed in our devices

Evasive driving techniques

Look at the furthest point down the road

‘Tyres on tarmac’ for a quick getaway

Feeling most happy in New York

Channelling Princess Di Taj Mahal

Being happy to lie on a sunbed for two weeks in the Maldives

Doing the Marathon de Sables ultra marathon through the Sahara

His top tips for travelling safely

Getting through the secure areas as quickly as possible

His brilliant overhead compartment tip!

Lisa’s travel PR’s bikini tip

Photos of Will in a bikini

What is seen can never be unseen

The Colombo question

Being a soul boy at heart

How the music question really reveals who Will is (you HAVE to listen to this one)