Why did you decide to do this show?
I definitely thought it was time for me to come back to TV, and I wanted to come back in a really good and positive way by setting myself a huge challenge. So when this show came knocking at the door, the timing felt right for me. It was a huge opportunity and it’s something you can’t really turn down. I was really interested to see how far, more mentally than physically, that I could push myself.
Was it nice to be able to show a different side to you than we have perhaps seen on TV before?
Yeah, massively. That’s one of my favourite things about doing TV because as much as I love being in control with what I do, when I do my YouTube work I’m fully in control, but when I’m put in these positions on TV, especially when I’m out of my comfort zone, I lose a bit of that control which it’s nerve wracking but it’s also exciting. I actually really like being able to show the audience a version of me that I can’t control, if that makes sense?
Were you worried about showing your vulnerability on TV?
Oh, absolutely. For me this show was probably 90% a mental challenge because I had obviously been on a similar show to this before and it wasn’t kind to me, so it was a big decision for me to take on the show. It was probably the best thing I could have done for myself. Going into something where I knew I was going to have to push myself and just concentrate on what I was doing that day, almost hour by hour, was a big decision for me at the time but it was absolutely the right decision. I very much felt like if I could put myself through this and come out the other side, then I could do anything. I think this is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
How did Ant and the other DS help you during this experience?
As scary as the DS are, and they are very scary, what I realised early on is that they don’t lie. They never say anything to you that isn’t true or isn’t coming from a place where they want you to do better because they know you can. Yes they shout at you and they get in your face but I honestly think that they have a better understanding of who you are than you do yourself. They get a handle on you very quickly and they know how far they can push you, all they want from you is your absolute best. I might think that I am giving it my all but they know that I’m not, so they pushed me even harder. They knew that I was struggling mentally, and Foxy in particular was really good at helping me through it. If he saw that I was having a terrible half hour then he would talk to me to get me through it, to get me in the right headspace to carry on. So although it felt like they were trying to break you 24 seven they were also really encouraging, which is so weird!
Foxy has been so open about his own mental health struggles, having someone as authoritative as him helping you mentally must have been very empowering?
Having someone like Foxy speak to you and relate to something so personal, like mental health, is incredibly empowering. He’s such an authoritative, powerful figure, yet he has faced his own mental struggles, so to be able to relate to him and getting his words of encouragement really helped. It felt like I had a connection with him and I could really relate to him.
There was a weapons challenge this year, how did you find that?
I have never held an assault rifle before - the closest I’ve ever come is paint-balling! This was actually one of the challenges that I was really excited about because I thought that it could be quite fun. I didn’t think it would be too much of a physical task because I assumed it would be all about the weapons. When they started showing us how to use it, I thought that was the challenge. I thought it was brilliant just to learn something new and maybe pick up a new skill of being able to shoot. But then they took us to the real challenge and that’s when it kicked off! It was possibly the most intense thing I have ever done in my entire life. I’ve never been in a situation where my adrenaline was running so high not from exhaustion but from pure terror. They basically put us in a battle scenario, it was so scary. The DS wanted to test our reaction and our instincts under fire. They throw you into this scenario and all hell breaks loose. You honestly feel like you have no idea what’s going on. You’re trying to calm yourself down, which is next to impossible in that situation. I felt okay. They pull the hood over your head and suddenly you’re surrounded by people in a battle scenario. They’re screaming, shouting and there are explosions. It was a massive wake-up call to what real soldiers must experience and how quickly they have to make a decision that is life or death. It really shows how calm, well trained and focused they are in the SAS and it just made me realise how a split second could define your life.
It sounds intense but did you have any funny moments?
Oh yeah, we laughed a lot. We had a really good bunch of people. Joey and Tony are hilarious! There was one point when Joey was giving us the Joey Essex dictionary. All these words he has made up but uses in every day life. He was telling us what they are and what they mean, it was unbelievable what he was coming out with! Katie was great because she had so many funny stories from things that she had got up to in her life. Everyone was so interesting, we had a lot of fun together.