Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins made "a human being" out of former health secretary Matt Hancock, apparently.
The 44 year old has attracted so much vitriolic energy over the last couple of years – mainly thanks to his mid-lockdown jaunt to visit a secret girlfriend while the rest of the UK couldn't see their nearest and dearest – but by appearing in the last series of I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and this month's hellish SAS show, the politician is hoping to come out smelling of roses in the public eye.
"They were pretty rude. Calling me names, taking the p**s out of my surname, and God, it p***ed me off," Matt told The Sun of the popular programme's grizzled directing staff and instructors, who monikered him 'Matt Handjob'.
"But everybody has a view of me, and I’d rather people had a view of me as I really am. So with all my flaws on the show, when you’re under massive physical strain and you’ve been woken up in the middle of the night, you can’t hide. To make something like this work, you’ve just got to go all in. I went in as a politician and I came out as a human being."
Production on SAS took place in the jungles of Vietnam right before Matt's stint in the Australian rainforest last autumn, where he had a bitey run-in with a scorpion.
"I wanted to do it to test my limits," he revealed. "I’d just come through a pretty tough period being the health secretary in the pandemic and I wanted to push my limits in terms of resilience and physically. I took the attitude that you must absolutely throw yourself at what’s in front of you. You can’t hide your personality. There’s nothing to hide behind. So I wanted people to see that."
One thing he probably didn't count on was having the fist of ex-Premier League footballer Jermaine Pennant – best remembered for his stints at Liverpool and Stoke City – pummelling his face as the cast got involved with a game of murder ball, though.
Apparently, this crack to the jaw didn't really register because his adrenaline was fizzing so hard.
On reflection, Celeb SAS was "far more enjoyable" than he'd ever pictured, and was actually so inspired by his co-star's violence that he wanted "to get a shot in" of his own straight afterwards.
Even though he'd previously collaborated with the Special Forces in a governmental sense, the whole experience left Matt with a greater appreciation for the work the real guys do in the field.
Elsewhere in this year's cast is singer Gareth Gates, who went Instagram official with his dancer girlfriend Allana Taylor over the summer; Liberty X band member Michelle Heaton; The Wanted's Siva Kaneswaran; former Page Three model and Cowboy Builders presenter Melinda Messenger, and Miss Great Britain 2006, Danielle Lloyd.
Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins premieres September 26 on Channel 4.
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