Trevor McDonald on meeting the mafia for new documentary

Despite Trevor McDonald saying he would never do another prison series after filming Women Behind Bars two years ago, he met numerous members of the mafia for his new two-part ITV documentary The Mafia with Trevor McDonald.

The journalist delved into the murky world of the most famous organised crime network of the United States, and although the characters he met have all hung up their gangster hats, he still had some scary moments.

"I got a little worried when we were driving through Little Italy in New York with a gangster called Mikey Scars and he saw some guys who have a warrant on his life," Trevor told HELLO! magazine.


Trevor McDonald's new documentary sees the journalist meeting members of the mafia

The 75-year-old, who has spent over 50 years working in journalism and news presenting, added: "I just didn't ever for one moment think that any kind of remnants of his past associations would be still around, which shows how little imagination I have! But it was a slightly disconcerting moment and I was scared because he seemed concerned.

"Those guys would not know who the hell I was and wouldn't have any reason to shoot me, I hope, but his response made us think that we were venturing into dangerous waters."

Explaining why he wanted to make the show, Trevor said: "You name me half a dozen people who would say no to doing a programme on the mafia. It's a no brainer isn't it, and I found it fascinating. We all as journalists like to think we're getting in to something which nobody's done before and the mafia has an air of mystery about it."

Trevor McDonald admitted it was "slightly disconcerting" when he and Mikey Scars, mobster-turned-informant, saw a few of Mikey's "past associations"

He added: "I'd only seen bits in the movies, and I never dreamt of talking to anybody who had actually killed somebody in this way, not to mention willing to talk about how they did it. Regardless of the criminality of what they do, you hear about the secret organisation and with the oaths of loyalty and pricking the finger with blood and all that and it's mysteriously otherworldly."

It was the travelling that Trevor found most challenging however. He spent three months flying to and from the US to film the two-part series, and despite the fact that he travelled the globe on a weekly basis as a news reporter, it's something he finds less appealing these days.

"I like planes once you get on to the thing but I hate airports and the fuss about travel these days," he said. "As I get older I have less energy, and I discover that when I play tennis! I take a few painkillers at the end of the game."

Trevor McDonald spent three months travelling to the US to film the two-part show

So after retiring in 2008 from the News at Ten, what keeps Trevor motivated to keep working? "I just enjoy doing bits and pieces and find the absence of any kind of mental activity very destructive," he said. "I try not to have a totally empty mind and find it very dull to even conceive of the idea of nothingness or pausing – why?

"In measured proportions yes, although I would never do what I used to, jumping in and out of planes and cars, because that's just too exhausting to contemplate. Plus I'm a card-carrying coward in comparison to people like Ross Kemp! But if you're lucky enough to get projects like this, it's really exciting. I enjoyed reading the news but you usually don't get a second bite of the cherry like this."

When asked whether he would be working well into his eighties like Bruce Forsyth, Trevor said: "The way I feel some mornings I'm not too sure I can quite do that – but I'm going to try!"

The Mafia with Trevor McDonald airs on ITV on Monday 23 March and Monday 30 March at 9pm.