Expedition leadership, 4×4 driving and off-roading are genre synonymous with Scotsman Duncan Barbour who has carved an impressive 30 year career as a world-leading exponent in these fields and built a reputation that is second-to-none.
Inspired by his great-great uncle, Henry Alexander, the first man to drive a car (Model-T Ford) up Ben Nevis in 1911, off-roading is in Duncan’s blood and his naturally chosen and driven career path has taken him to all corners of the globe organising over 60 expeditions through all manner of terrain across seven continents. Duncan has his own first similar to his Great Uncle Henry’s which is he was the first person to ever drive a motor vehicle through the Zambezi River and to the edge of Victorian Falls in Zambia. Like his Uncle Henry this was also a media stunt.
From internationally acclaimed events such as Camel Trophy (the off-road equivalent of the Paris Dakar rally), the Overland Expo and the launch of his specialist company BATT (Barbour All-Terrain Tracking) Duncan’s extraordinary skills-set have been sought from a wide diversity of industry, from Motor Manufacturer product launches and incentive expeditions for Land Rover, Jeep, Mercedes and Lexus, to Formula One Teams and the big screen of the Motion Picture Industry, his film credits the envy of many a Hollywood A-Lister.
A finalist on Camel Trophy in 1985, 1986 and 1987 Duncan was appointed Special Events Co-ordinator of the world-acclaimed event in 1989, responsible for all aspects of research, development and event execution; including location recces, development of the Special Task competitive element of the event, assessment and modification of vehicles, equipment requirements and procurement, budget control, local government and contractor liaison.
During that period he established his growing reputation leading arduous and successful Camel Trophy events through Brazil, Russia, Tanzania & Burundi (Africa), Guyana, Sabah (Malaysia) and Argentina, Paraguay and Chile.
Vehicle events and expeditions
From 1995 to 2018 Duncan has organised and worked on a staggering 60 plus events from expeditions to product and press launches to adverts and film and television work taking him all over the world, from the Highlands of Scotland to the wilds of China, Japan, to the deserts of Oman and Jordan, North and South America (he circumnavigated South America twice in a truck), Canada, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Greenland, Africa (various countries in the North, Central and South and the Arctic Circle to name but a few. He is now currently working on vehicle based expeditions to Guyana, Costa Rica, India, Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet.
Barbour All Terrain Tracking (BATT)
The launch of his specialist company Barbour All-Terrain Tracking (BATT) in 1994 allowed Duncan to diversify his business activities and to introduce his unique and in-demand skills to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood as well as the world of television.
Tracking vehicles on screen productions
Using specially developed tracking vehicles his credits include; the battle sequence in Braveheart, the tank chase and Aston Martin and Ferrari chase sequences in Goldeneye, off-road tracking sequences in the Mummy and the Mummy Returns, the English Patient, Sleepy Hollow, Gladiator, Sahara, Libertador, the flying car sequence in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and a jousting sequence in Henry VIII.
Other past credits are Clash of the Titans, Hercules and the latest Fury where he was off road precision driver with his tracking vehicle mounted with a Russian Arm for the Sherman and Tiger Tank battle sequence of the film. More recently Duncan has been working with his tracking vehicles on the “Battle of Winterfell” episode of Game of Thrones season 6, Outlander and the new 2018 series of BBC Top Gear.
In 2011 and beginning of 2012 Duncan was involved in a Discovery Channel series called “One Car Too Far”. Produced by Dragonfly Film & TV Duncan was commissioned to come on board as the Off-Road and 4×4 Technical consultant for the series.
From a pre-production phase Duncan was heavily involved in the creative elements and production of the show along with vehicle and equipment selection, vehicle expedition preparation and modification, driver training for the presenters, health and safety relating to the vehicles and what they had to do and the bush fixes that were to be a main part of the story line.
The six week shoot covered four distinct areas of Chile, a glacier on top of an extinct volcano, a rainforest, the Andes and the Atacama Desert was highly successful and a second series was commissioned for 2013.
Stunt and action vehicles
His reputation has also led to involvement in film production, notably in The Avengers and The English Patient where Duncan was the Action Vehicle Co-ordinator. Tasks included advising the director and stunt team on vehicle requirements, preparation and teaching the cast members including Uma Thurman, Ralph Fiennes and Colin Firth how to drive the action vehicles along with a lot of the on screen driving where the cast could not be seen in the off road elements of the film.
Instruction and training
He is also a City and Guilds 4×4 driving and winching verified assessor and instructor and is involved with training from basic off road techniques for Certificate of Competence courses all the way up to advanced driving and recovery techniques that are taught to MOD personnel. Alongside this training Duncan is heavily involved with the Overland Expo in the USA where he assists in the event set up and running and is a presenter and instructor on the event on all matters concerning vehicle based expeditions in the Camel Trophy Skills Area of the event programme.
Duncan has also assisted on documentaries including the acclaimed Warriors of the French Foreign Legion for National Geographic and Discovery Channel. Working alone with the director, Duncan was camera assistant, sound recordist and general ‘minder’ on a six-week shoot in the world’s toughest jungles and deserts, from Djibouti to French Guyana.
Period dramas, children’s TV and corporate films are also part of Duncan’s experience, as well as a number of TV and cinema commercials for clients including Skoda, Mercedes, Audi, Jeep, Nissan, Saab, Renault, British Energy Commission, Visit Britain, Mobil, Lexus and Sony.
Key skills and achievements
- Expedition planning/leadership for over 25 years
- Outstanding safety record from professional approach
- Ground-breaking and innovative use of locations
- Award-winning events through creative logistics
- Blockbuster off-road vehicle camera tracking operator
- Three-time shortlisted for Camel Trophy British team
- Five years as Camel Trophy Special Events Organiser
- City & Guilds Assessor & Instructor for Off Road Driver training and Winching to CPC level and beyond to advanced levels where training requires it….
- RNLI Lifeboat Community Safety Officer and Shore launching crew for North Berwick Lifeboat Station
- Fellow of Royal Geographical Society.
- Heavy Goods Vehicle Class 1 License.
- Full Motorcycle license.
- Rough Terrain Telescopic Forklift. CPC