First cousins who fell in love share unusual story with Ben Fogle

Ben Fogle's surprise as romantic couple tell him they are first cousins in New Lives in the Wild

First cousins Elena and Frode invite Ben Fogle to their lighthouse in Norway. (Geraint Warrington/Channel 5)
First cousins Elena and Frode invite Ben Fogle to their lighthouse in Norway. (Geraint Warrington/Channel 5)

What did you miss?

First cousins who fell in love and live on an island on Norway's Artic coastline have shared their "unusual" story with adventurer Ben Fogle in New Lives in the Wild.

The latest episode of New Lives in the Wild saw Fogle travel to remote Norway to a lighthouse where he met with first cousins Elena Hansteensen and Frode, who are living as a romantic couple. Over an intimate dinner, Frode told their love story and how fate brought them together again in their adult lives.

What, how and why?

Carpenter Frode said: "There was one day we had a glass of wine - maybe two, three, four glasses of wine. Then Elena asked me, 'Are you in love?' I said, 'No! I'm not in love.' I'm an honest person and I think I have to tell her. I told Elena in one hour - one minute - I'm in love with Elena."

Elena revealed how attraction between them developed when they met. She said: "I had also felt it was a new attraction... It gradually happened. When it happened I was kind of thinking this should not happen. Because there are also an extra layer to our story."

Having been sent to foster care when he was just six years old, Frode explained he had been searching for his family and he shared that was how he had found Elena. He said: "I was born in Oslo and I went to a foster home when I was six years old. I didn't know about my original family. In 2008, my sister called me and told me that I have a cousin living in an island alone."

Ben Fogle travelled to the lighthouse in Norway. (Channel 5)
Ben Fogle travelled to the lighthouse in Norway in New Lives in the Wild. (Channel 5)

The former Middle East peacekeeper then confided in Fogle that they were first cousins. She said: "His biological and my father were brothers." Adventurer Fogle was taken back by the story and he simply said: "Wow."

Speaking openly, Elena remembered how they had met when they were kids. "Because Frode's father died," she said. "Because of this we never met in our grown up life. We found a photo of both of us when we were kids." Surprised by the story, Fogle added: "Oh wow."

Trusting Fogle, the couple then shared a private photograph of them both sat smiling together in each other's company as children. Elena continued to explain that: "We don't really remember that." Frode thought he would have been four or five in the photograph with Elena. Fogle remarked, "This would have been before you went to the foster home."

"It's incredible," Fogle concluded after they had finished sharing their story with him. He added: "I don't think I've met two first cousins who have become a couple before."

Elena said she understands the reaction that some people would have to the revelation that they were first cousins but she said they didn't plan for it to happen. Fogle summed up what she was trying to say as he added: "You didn't plan to fall in love."

Elena and Frode introduce Ben Fogle to life on the island. (Geraint Warrington/Channel 5)
Elena and Frode introduce Ben Fogle to life on the island. (Geraint Warrington/Channel 5)

Speaking from the heart, Elena said there had been many considerations before they embarked on a romance together. She elaborated: "We talked about it. We are much too old to have children for example. We have this story that we hadn't met for - we kind of decided that maybe we should just let it happen."

Interviewer and reporter Fogle asked the couple how their family and friends had responded to the news. "We feel we have support," Elena said. But she admitted, "Some people had to think twice." Initially Elena had asked her partner not to tell people that they were a couple on Facebook and advised they should "wait a bit".

After the dinner, Fogle had some time to reflect on the love story. He said: "I can see the pride Frode has in his unusual story and he wanted to share it." He added: "They were brave sharing that story. There will still be a lot of people who disapprove. It's an amazing tale isn't it? They have followed their hearts and hearts of not only brought them to this island but brought them together as a couple."

What else happened on New Lives In The Wild?

Elsewhere in the episode, Elena shared her heartache over losing her brother and how it spurred her on to live in the wild. "Something happened that made me rethink my life," she told Fogle. "My brother died quite suddenly, he was 11 years younger than me. He died of an overdose."

She added: "I continued my work but I felt I had so little energy so after a year I decided i just need to do something that feels good - not to think about career." It was after this that Elena spotted a tiny ad in a newspaper about a house to be given away in Bø. While it wasn't the lighthouse, she explained it was that advert that brought her to Bø.

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