Treasure Island with Bear Grylls: Interview with BenCategory: Press Pack Article
Why did you want to do Treasure Island?
I just wanted to push myself. Whether that be marathons or climbing mountains, I wanted something that was really going to push me to my limits. The last time I attempted a marathon I never saw it through because mentally I wasn't in the strongest frame of mind, I’ve had a relationship break up which put me down a little bit. So I wanted to prove to myself that no one is controlling my destiny. I wanted to show I'm mentally strong again.
What were you most nervous about once you got your spot on the island?
I was nervous about the unknown, about what laid ahead, how I was going to adapt in the environment and what the other islanders were going to be like. I wouldn’t say I have any phobias, I mean, I think I’d have something to say if I saw a snake, but I’m not scared of that stuff, so I wasn’t worried about that side of things.
How did you feel when you met Bear Grylls for the first time?
It was quite empowering actually because obviously he's got such a big status in society, hasn't he? Most people know who he is and what he does, he’s huge all over the world. I was anxious and I was desperate to prove to him and myself that there is more to this double glazing salesman, that I’ve got a bit of heart. The best advice Bear gave me was the faster you adapt, the more chance of survival you have, the more chance you have of making it the full five weeks.
What did you make of the other islanders when you met them for the first time?
I was a bit shocked to be honest because it was like they couldn't have got a more random bunch of people if they tried! You had a neurosurgeon, a royal marine, you had plumber, you had a Lord, a journalist, a granny from Scotland, you had all sorts of people from all different walks of life, it was crazy. Everyone was really pleasant to begin with, I mean, you know occasionally when you get put into that environment you can always recognise people you might clash with.
Did you bond with anyone?
Yeah, Jack and Irene. Meeting Jack was like having a best mate on the island, he had a really calming way about him and was so positive. I can be very opinionated when I want to be but he was really good at telling me when I was in the wrong. That is what you want in a friend, someone who fights your corner but at the same time, slams you down when you're not necessarily doing things the right way. Then with Irene it was like having my nan with me. She just made me feel comfortable. I think initially me and Irene got on because I was there to look after her, but as I went on, she ended up being there looking after me!
What did you think about the introduction of money to the island?
That was really interesting because it changed the agenda for many people. You just found yourself being a bit more cautious around people. If someone was going for a walk on their own you couldn’t help wondering if they were looking for money or hiding some.
What was your thoughts on what you should all do with the cash?
I applied for the show not knowing about the money, that being said, at the time of doing the show had just I found out I was going to be dad which I know is quite an expensive thing. So had there not been money on the island, I don't think I could have gone financially. So I flew out there knowing that I wanted to walk away with as much money as possible. As my relationship grew with people on the island, my attitude towards money for the first time in my life completely changed.
In what way?
Well, I live quite a fortunate life back home, prior to going on the island. I have a good life by anyone’s standard. I live in a luxury apartment in Salford Quays, I drive a sports car, I buy such things like Rolex watches, I go on several holidays a year. My attitude to money was that I could have had anything, but when I came off the island my attitude had changed. It was about two weeks after I got home that I realised I just wasn’t driven by money anymore. Within two weeks of being off the island my sports car had gone, my watches were sold and I developed a new respect for money. Something in me changed. I guess being on the island made me realise what’s actually important in life, money is not everything and although I'd still say I work hard for money, and I'm still driven to earn it, I've got a lot more respect for it than I have had in the past. I realised I didn’t need money to feel content. Going into the show I wanted to walk off with all the cash, sod everyone else, but then I got to know everyone and that all changed. It went from being all about me to wanting everyone to walk away with an amount of money that will have a positive effect on their life.
How did you feel when you found out people had been hiding money?
To be honest it was more the way they did it than the fact they did it at all. So Marco and Ivar were the first to find a lot of money and I really feel that whoever found cash in the first few days should have shared it with everyone as we were all trying to find our feet on that island. They found the money and Elissa was with them at the time but had hurt her leg so was resting, she was literally feet away from them and they hid it from her. Emily and Elissa did the same to Cat. I was really disappointed that the money found in the first few days wasn’t shared but, I guess, at the same time I respect where people were coming from and why they didn’t want to share it. The reality is five weeks on the island can have a huge impact on your life. For the rest of your life. So I understand.
Do you think that money brought out the greedy side of people?
It brought out the best and the worst. Jack wasn't bothered about the money, Jim wasn't either. I think if I could go back I would have found more and shared more, to be honest. I was happy with the money I walked away with in the end, however, looking back I would quite happily have the shared some of my money with my partner in crime Jack to ensure we walked away with the same amount.
What was the food situation like?
My diet at home is shocking by the way, I'm used to Nando's, McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, fish and chips, pie, mash and gravy, this is what I'm used to, that's my every day sort of food. So on the island the hardest thing about it was that food wasn't on tap! We didn’t do too badly on the food front. Mano made a net so he managed to get loads from the sea, Jack caught a sting ray one day, which was good. We had winkles, oysters, all sorts of stuff. Then one day we caught and killed a goat, that was incredible.
Why did you drink your own urine?
I've been watching too many Bear shows! He told us the faster we adapt the easier it would be to survive. Now I suppose I was a little naive because I was drinking my own pee and there was about 20 coconuts with coconut juice in them nearby. But, I was willing to give it a go! I drank a bottle of my own wee. Urine actually looks like apple juice, but it tastes nothing like it!
How did you entertain yourselves on the island?
We had karaoke nights, we played rounders and we just talked about each other’s lives. When you're at home and you've got the TV you don't speak to people as much as we used to, you know what I mean? So even just listening to people's stories about certain things in their life, there was Mano talking about saving a child, or Elissa telling me about a famous guy who dropped into her DMs. She never did tell me who that was, annoyingly.
Did Ivar tell you about his royal family?
No, he was quite modest, to be honest with you. I think he spoke to some of the others in more detail but not me. I just found it strange that someone from that world was on the island with us, it’s not what you expect.
How much weight did you lose?
I lost three stone! I looked like a skeleton when I got off the island. I looked a mess but my teeth looked really white because I was so tanned! Fast forward three months, and you know the three stone that I'd lost, I've found it! I wouldn’t change my time on the island for anything, it was life changing and the best experience you could ever have. I’m proud of myself for having found that sheer stubborn resilience to keep going, to do things you don't want to do, you know, to not stop even when you want a Nando’s!