Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins is back for 2023, with a brand-new cast of celebrities eager to compete.
The seven-part series, which kicks out today (Tuesday, September 26) and runs through Sunday evenings, will put new participants through some of the tough tasks that potential special forces applicants must go through during selection.
The cast includes 16 new celebrities, including former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, singer Gareth Gates, Olympian Perri Shakes-Drayton, and others, all overseen by an elite team of ex-Special Forces operators led by Chief Instructor Billy Billingham MBE QCB.
‘The SAS selection training follows the regimental ethos,’ Billy explained. Self-motivation and self-discipline are essential. The pursuit of perfection and the will to never give up.
‘Our recruits will be pushed emotionally, physically, and mentally beyond anything they have ever experienced.
‘The standards will never drop but most of the recruits will!!! No concessions, No excuses!! Only results …’
So, who is in the cast of the fifth series? Read on to find out.
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock will undoubtedly be one of the more contentious guests on the show this year.
Despite being the Member of Parliament for West Suffolk, Mr Hancock is no stranger to reality television, having previously appeared on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, which cost him the Conservative party whip.
When asked about his experiences on both shows, he described both as “very different,” yet both “tested my resilience.”
‘There wasn’t a much to do in the Australian rainforest, so I was always looking forward to the duties,’ claimed the 43-year-old.
‘The opposite was true on SAS where your physical and mental resilience was tested to its limits almost every minute of every day. Sitting down was a luxury!
Gareth Gates, 38, rose to popularity as the star of the 2002 series of talent programme Pop Idol, but he has mostly avoided appearing on reality shows thereafter, having had a traumatic encounter with the tabloid press early in his career.
Gates still has a stutter, which he has had from birth, and relies on breathing exercises to help him manage it. However, the singer-songwriter feels it has strengthened his mental fortitude.
When opting to participate in SAS: WDW, Gates stated that the programme “really intrigued” him since he “absolutely knew I’d be stretched both physically and mentally.”
Gareth Gates, 38, rocketed to fame as the star of the talent show Pop Idol in 2002, but he has generally avoided appearing on reality shows thereafter, having had a painful interaction with the tabloid press early in his career.
Gates still stutters and relies on breathing techniques to help him control it, which he has had from birth. The singer-songwriter, on the other hand, believes it has increased his mental fortitude.
Gates noted that he chose SAS: WDW because it “really intrigued” him since he “absolutely knew I’d be stretched both physically and mentally.”
Recently 18 months sober, Michelle Heaton has said, ‘I’m in competition with just myself. And it was the best challenge ever. So it was really only me. I had something to prove to, no one else.’
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Danielle Lloyd, a former Miss GB and model, characterised her experience on the SAS course as “life changing,” stating, “It’s made me positive and ready to take on the world.”
Danielle stated that, while she wasn’t the fittest heading into the show, she thought her best asset going into the course was her mental fortitude.
‘Obviously, my weakness is my kids,’ admitted the former model. ‘So when I thought about them, I really struggled and missed them since I didn’t have the habit of being at home with them. It was really difficult… but I was psychologically strong enough to get through it.’
Siva Kaneswaran, another SAS: WDW participant, was chosen in 2009 to join the lineup of the boyband The Wanted. Siva is a fitness enthusiast who visits the gym six times a week on average.
Siva has been open about how difficult he found the passing of bandmate Tom Parker from cancer in 2022 and recently said: ‘I saw the bravery that Tom had and what he showed in the band, and he really showed everyone what type of man he was and what he was made of.
‘He asked me the question and gave me the kind of inspiration to say, “what type of man am I? What type of person am I?” So that was one of the main reasons why I joined Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.
‘I wanted to challenge myself and discover a new part of myself and try and be more brave.’
Melinda Messenger, a TV host, confessed ahead of the show that she doesn’t go to the gym or work out other than walking her dog and going for a bike ride.
Also counting heights, water, and fire amongst her many fears, the Swindon-born 51-year-old revealed that she went on the show because ‘I love a challenge. I love to do or put myself in a situation where I have zero experience, where something’s completely new, I knew I was going to be totally out of my comfort zone.’
Montana Brown appeared on Love Island‘s third series in 2017. Montana stated before the concert that she wanted to challenge herself and step out of her usual comfy routine.
‘It’s such an opportunity to push yourself mentally and physically to the edge’, Montana said.
‘I kind of just was really curious as to how I was going to react to being so far out my comfort zone, and also doing things that I really don’t want to do.’
Jermaine Pennant, one of numerous former sports stars on the show, had over 350 appearances for 15 football teams and scored 25 goals.
When asked about his strengths, Jermaine replied: ‘definitely helping others, I’m a team player.’
Jermaine described his experience on the show as being ‘like no other.’
‘If someone’s going to get an opportunity to do it, I would tell them – be prepared. It’s going to be tough, but it can be life-changing’, the former pro footballer said.
‘If you go in there with a mindset that you want to push yourself, you want to see where you are mentally, you want to see what you can handle and what you want to get from it, or you want to get past any trauma, any demons that you’ve been holding onto throughout your life, this will strip everything away from you. If you go with a good mindset, it can be life-changing.’
James ‘Arg’ Argent
James “Arg” Argent rose to prominence in the 2010 series of The Only Way Is Essex. Arg, on the other hand, confessed that he hasn’t seen any reality TV since leaving TOWIE.
One of the rare exceptions was seeing Joey Essex, Ferne McCann, and Jeff Brazier’s experiences on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, which he credits with turning him become a fan of the show.
Having struggled with addiction, Arg hoped his heart and determination would be his most significant assets on the show, saying: ‘I wasn’t doing it for the money. I was literally doing it because I really wanted to push myself and really achieve something and have another goal.’
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Gareth Thomas is best known to sports fans as an ex-Welsh rugby international, but he has also built a name for himself as an HIV awareness activist.
Gareth was the first out homosexual professional rugby player when he came out in 2009, before admitting in 2019 that he was HIV positive.
The former rugby player thinks that his involvement on SAS: WDW would help to eliminate some of the stigma associated with HIV.
While he said he felt he didn’t have anything to prove, Gareth said: ‘I feel I had something to represent, because I think people have personal reasons to do it, the bigger picture was the purpose of understanding that I represent the community of people, whether it’d be with my HIV status, or whether it would be with my sexuality that have maybe stereotypically assumed not to go down this kind of pathway.’
Teddy Soares, one of numerous reality TV personalities to appear in the fifth series of the Channel 4 show, finished third with his then-girlfriend Faye in 2021.
Teddy felt like the timing of his appearance on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins ‘came at a perfect time as ‘mentally I was in a space where confidence was an issue, I was feeling lost, and vulnerable.’
The Love Island star said, ‘It’s something that I’m really proud of, to be able to prove to myself that I can go the distance, I can push myself, and I can do things that are far out of my comfort zone.’
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Amber Turner, the second cast member from The Only Way Is Essex to take part in SAS: WDW, has been a regular on TOWIE since 2017.
Amber wanted to discover more about herself by participating in the programme, and she admits, ‘I’ve always had a bit of a rush for adrenaline.’
‘Even though it might not look like it. I did love every minute of it,’ The TOWIE star said, ‘I would honestly do it again. If they’re doing a second one, I’ll happily join!’
Zoe Lyons, 51, believes she is probably fitter today than she was at 30, and she wanted to see if she could pass selection despite being one of the older recruits.
Despite being gassed and crawling with heavy bags, Lyson characterised the event as “completely unforgettable,” adding, “I’m incredibly fortunate that I got to participate in the show.”
Kirsty-Leigh Porter of Hollyoaks stated she wanted to do the SAS training to “test who I am as a person.”
The 34-year-old from Manchester said that ‘I feel like as you get older, you get a bit lost as to who you are, who I used to be, who I am as a mother, as a partner, as my character Leela, you kind of get lost amongst it all so I wanted to break contact with every day life strip back mentally and physically and face me and see what my limits and boundaries are.’
With such lengthy filming days on Hollyoaks, Kirsty found it difficult to prepare for the show, so she undertook weight training and running in preparation for her role on SAS: WDW.
Perri Shakes-Drayton, a GB Olympian who won gold with her team in the hurdles in 2012, is another sports figure taking part in SAS selection.
Perri was determined to make it through selection despite suffering multiple injuries throughout her career.
A fan of the show, Perri said, ‘When I got the call, without even knowing where I was going or anything, I thought, “I’m going to do it!”
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Jon-Allan Butterworth MBE
Jon-Allan Butterworth, the final athlete to compete in SAS: Who Dares Wins, is no stranger to the military, having served as a senior aircraftman with the RAF in Iraq.
Jon-Allan became the first British Military athlete to win a gold medal in cycling after losing an arm in a rocket assault.
The cyclist he wanted to show the audience that a disability doesn’t need to hold you back, saying ‘my military career was cut short, I wanted to see whether I have what it takes to survive in a world the DS think is normal.
‘It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that showed me that I have the mental strength to go further than I ever thought. And after losing my military career when I did, it was a nice reminder to just be back in that world again, to feel that camaraderie with the others. In a very weird way I enjoyed every minute of it.’
Stream or watch Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins live on Channel 4: Tuesday, September 26, 9.30pm, continuing on Sundays at 9pm from October 1.
Source My Celebrity Life.