Todd Sampson's Gaza Strip experience a reminder of mortality
Within half an hour of entering the Gaza Strip, after months of planning and negotiations, Todd Sampson found himself in a cloud of tear gas and a hail of gunfire.
The advertising guru turned TV presenter takes on his most dangerous challenge yet in the third season of Body Hack.
Sampson has put his body on the line plenty of times before for the documentary series, which explores the human condition at the extremes, but never like the immediate mortal danger he faced - even while wearing a clearly marked press flack jacket - when he attended Gaza's March of Return protests.
An average of 130 people, mostly young men and boys, are wounded by bullets every Friday at the weekly demonstrations.
"Firstly it's remarkable how quickly people can adapt to that world,” he says.
"One of the first things viewers will think is 'Why did those parents allow their kids to go to the front line?'. It sounds almost nonsensical until you comprehend this fight is bigger than any single person for them. It's about their life and the generations to come. When you see it in that context you realise the power hope has.”
He admits it was hard to remain impartial, or hopeful, while filming clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces.
"Both sides are right and wrong. I want to be hopeful and hope is the theme of the episode, but it's very difficult to be hopeful and be authentic about it. I couldn't see the out (for the Palestinians), especially when I went face to face with Islamic jihad, but there's always a glimmer of hope.”
No stranger to controversy - last year's Body Hack episode about the cannibalism of India's Aghori monks was banned from airing in the US - Sampson is bracing himself for the reaction to this week's episode.
"This one I feel particularly anxious because it's such an important story,” he says. "People are coming after me and they haven't seen the film. The reviews have been great and I'm very thankful for that because it is so emotional and raw and it's on commercial TV. This show swims against the tide of what's popular.”
Season three of Body Hack premieres on Tuesday at 8.40pm on Ten.