Donna Preston and Verona Rose are comedy performers and writers as well as best mates. In Pants on Fire, they'll be claiming they pedaloed from Europe to Africa, got up close and personal with a great white shark and schmoozed with the Royal family at Wimbledon. But what is fact and what is fiction?
Describe your partnership
DONNA: There’s love, affection, laughter
VERONA: We bond really well. We bounce of each other really well because I think we know how far we can push it with each other before it gets personal. If we’re not together, we’re on the phone, we’re sending voice notes, we’re sending photographs of our dinner to each other. It’s funny actually, sometimes Donna is very serious…
DONNA: One of us has to be very serious in the relationship when it comes to safety, so I’m very serious about safety and sometimes Verona forgets where there can be danger, so I’ll stop the joke at danger.
VERONA: …and I’ll stop the joke at DEATH!! [laughs]
How did you first meet?
DONNA: We met about nine years ago being supporting artists on an E4 series called Youngers. We were just messing about on set, as you do when you’re a background actor just waiting around a lot.
VERONA: We were doing really rude hand gestures, and that was our first meeting.
DONNA: Maybe like four years ago we both auditioned for the same role in a show called Dick in Ibiza. We didn’t realise we were going for the same part, but the producer liked us both so much that they rewrote the script and gave us both parts. So that was our first time working as a partnership. And ever since then we’ve been writing.
What’s the rivalry like between you and your competitors?
DONNA: Oh, there’s huge rivalry! We didn’t want them to win at all. We didn’t know what anyone else’s challenges were until we got to the studio, which made it better. We always thought whatever else we’ve got to pass our challenge
VERONA: Even if we die!
DONNA: There were a couple of scary challenges.
VERONA: We could have died of hyperventilation and hypothermia on some of the challenges.
DONNA: We had a challenge where we needed to sleep on the side of a cliff, which was scary. We had a challenge where we needed to cross the sea from Europe to Africa in a pedalo, and the water was shark-infested.
VERONA: There was nothing to protect us apart from a bit of plastic pedalo.
Did any of the challenges put your friendship to the test?
VERONA: Taking a pedalo from Europe to Africa. We went through the motions. We went through the motions of the sea. We went through the motions in terms of loving each other to hating each other. Crying. Laughing. Puking. It was all go in the big wide sea.
DONNA: It was the best and worst experience of my life. We were there for nine and a half hours on the water and it was nice to have a moment to look around and take in the world.
VERONA: It was so peaceful.
DONNA: But Verona got sea sick a lot, and because I was next to her on the pedalo, the stench was out of this world! It was not only going in my lungs, it was getting into my pores.
VERONA: If my sick was in my pores, you’d know about it!
DONNA: It was a tricky situation that one.
Would you say that was the hardest challenge you did?
VERONA: No! The hardest challenge was climbing down the side of a mountain. It was a sheer faced cliff. We were both just crying our eyes out. It was like there was no way of getting out of this but to go down the mountain. We had to do it.
DONNA: It was different fear. The pedalo was hard training. The cliff was emotional torture! It was absolute terror.
Verona: Sometimes you watch a horror film and see people attached to a mountain and the attachments start popping off, and that was in my head the whole time. I had visions of these attachments popping off like in films. That would have been great TV. These two girls going down the side of a mountain and then falling down a cliff. Kill two birds with one stone. Oh my god that works both ways!
Are you adrenaline-seekers in your day to day life?
VERONA: Donna is, I’m not
DONNA: Well, I get adrenaline just from meeting my mates to go to the pub. It’s all relative isn’t it?
VERONA: You need constant stimulation, don’t you?
DONNA: I need stimulation, yeah
VERONA: Whereas I’m more chilled.
Which celebrity panellist was the easiest to fool?
DONNA: I think Mel B was the most easy to fool. We gave her a little dance and I think that got her on side.
Is it hard lying to Mel B?
DONNA: Yeah, incredibly hard. We were born in the 80s so The Spice Girls for us was just something else. If you said to us 20 years ago that we’d be on stage dancing with Mel B… It was just a dream come true really. I’d like to say sorry to her one day.
VERONA: Yeah, Mel. We’re sorry.
Which celebrity was the best detective?
VERONA: Dane Baptiste was really good. He started playing the game as if it were Cluedo. His strategy was good, but we were just better.
DONNA: Emma Willis was really digging it out of us as well. We went through all the Challenges expecting Emma would be on our side, but in the studio, she wasn’t on our side.
Do you tell lies in your real life?
VERONA: No, because that would be sinful…
DONNA: There’s no point in telling lies, because you’re always going to get found out and you’ve got to have a very good memory to be a good liar, and we don’t.
What’s a true story about you that sounds like an outrageous lie?
DONNA: When I was on holiday as a kid, we stayed in a caravan and I was racing up the steps, fell over and got the caravan doorframe stuck through my head. They had to get the emergency services and unscrew all the door, and the caravan collapsed. You could see all my brain and everything. The frame of the door was through my skull. But I’ve got proof, because of the scars on my head.
This isn’t your first time on screen. Where might viewers have seen you before?
VERONA: You can see the back of my head on an aeroplane with Anthony Hopkins in a film called 360.
DONNA: I worked with Michael McIntyre on Michael McIntyre’s big show and I was Tracey in Hey Tracey on ITV2, which was really fun.
VERONA: And we’ve written and starred in Fully Blown which has just landed on BBC Three.
Were there any challenges that you’d love to do in future?
VERONA: We want to try wing walking. With me sitting on the wing and Donna flying the plane.
DONNA: I’d have to train to be a pilot. I think it would be possible!
Do you think the show send a positive message that people should push themselves to achieve the unlikely?
VERONA: We like people thinking “They look like they can’t do that” and we come back with “Bam! Who’s the bitch now?!”
DONNA: That’s why we really wanted to do the pedalo. Because we know that people might have looked at us and thought there’s no way at all these two girls could have pedaloed from Europe to Africa, and we wanted to prove everyone wrong. If this time last year, if anyone had said to me I was going to attempt abseiling down a cliff and pedalo to Afirca I’d have said not a sweet chance in hell. We wanted to get across that anything is possible, if you have faith and go for it.
VERONA: Also, there is one challenge where a little bit of extra flesh is shown and I hope it sends a message that it’s a good idea to wear a sports bra at all times because you never know when you might need to ride a horse…