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Television: Interview

Josh Gates goes in search of the banshee Add to ...

The truth is out there - somewhere - believes Josh Gates. Since 2007, he has served as a genial tour guide on Destination Truth. Equal parts travelogue and The X-Files, the cable hit follows Gates as he proves or debunks paranormal phenomena around the globe. Over four seasons, he's chased the Yeti in Nepal and tracked werewolves in Transylvania, among other outings.

To commemorate St. Patrick's Day on Thursday, Gates will search for the mythical Irish spirit known as the banshee in a live four-hour broadcast from a crumbling castle in Carlow, Ireland. In the real world, Gates has university degrees in archaeology and drama and is a genuine adventurer (he's scaled Mount Kilimanjaro) and qualified scuba diver.

He recently spoke to The Globe and Mail from Los Angeles.

How were you chosen to host Destination Truth?

I'm a real travel enthusiast. The Syfy channel was looking for a show to run alongside Ghost Hunters and investigate the paranormal in a different way. For a TV show, it has a bit of comedy, a bit of travel, and you get these thrilling paranormal investigations as well. It's a complete package.

Does it feel more like a paranormal series or a travel show for you?

The show isn't always just about Creature X, it's about the journey to get there and meet people on the way who really believe in this creature and have their own experiences. And it's not always pretty. We have flat tires and bad meals. Whether you believe these stories are real or not, our job is to tell them compellingly.

Were you a thrill-seeker as a kid?

My father was a commercial deep-sea diver in exotic locations and my mom was British and we would travel there every year. So I always had that wanderlust in me. That and growing up with Indiana Jones movies that got into my head at an early age and encouraged me to get a job that would allow me to travel.

Are you fearless?

I wouldn't say that. I think you have to have a healthy amount of fear, otherwise you're in trouble. Fear is a normal human response. It certainly is for me. I'm willing to try a lot of things but fear is a good thing when doing these investigations. You need to have a little bit of trepidation, because if you don't, you're being reckless.

Your scariest moment on the show so far?

In the third season, we were flying in a plane in Romania and the roof on our old Russian plane ripped off while we were in flight. It actually disassembled on us in the air. It's never good when you're in an airplane and it suddenly feels like you're outdoors.

Why search for the fabled banshee in Ireland?

This is a compelling location and a really famous story. We're looking for actual evidence of the banshee, which is this very storied spirit in Irish folklore. Our job is to follow up on these compelling reports of people who think they're real. We did a show in Ireland last year - a lighthearted episode about leprechauns - but this will be very different.

How do you decompress during hiatus?

I usually take a week and lock myself indoors and catch up on a lot of TV and relax. But after a month or so I get itchy and start to check my frequent flyer miles and look online for places I can get away to. I'm born to travel.

Destination Truth: Live from Ireland airs March 17 at 7 p.m. on OLN.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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