Treasure Island With Bear Grylls

Treasure Island with Bear Grylls: Interview with Elissa

Category: Press Pack Article

Why did you want to do Treasure Island?

I really wanted the challenge! I’ve done the show before called Desperate Scousewives

and I didn’t want to be painted as this airhead from that show. I’m actually not the glamour puss that they made me out to be on that show. That image has followed me around for years, this image of me with big hair, fake nails and eyelashes. There is more to me than that, so I wanted to show people that I have got grit and I have got determination. Of course I like the look of being pampered, preened and all of that but I am a savage underneath, believe me!

How did you feel about going back to basics?

I was really looking forward to that side of things because I am always the one that tells everybody, my friends and family, to get off their phones. I can go days without looking at my phone which is unbelievable, some days I am on it constantly but then there are the days when I’m not even interested. It’s not like I felt like I had to prove anything because I knew I could go six weeks without my phone. It was amazing to have no phone, no TV, no creature comforts, it was a real experience.

What did you make of Bear Grylls when you met him?

I thought he was very down-to-earth, very genuine, he’s just Bear, what you see is what you get! He gave us a load of advice when we were on the boat about to be dropped off at the island, the best bit of advice was he said we should all stick together. He just told us all to dig deep because this was going to be a life changing experience for all of us.

What were you most nervous about before going on the island?

Oh my God! I was just so nervous about getting lost in the jungle, that was all I could think about, well, until I found out about the money! I watched as many episodes of the previous series as I could to prepare myself for what it was going to be like once we got out there, but I don’t think you can really prepare yourself properly. The biggest thing for me though was not having a razor on the island, I was so nervous about that. I was like, “I’m not having hairy legs and pits on the island!“, so for a month before we were going to go out to Panama I grew every bit of body hair that I could and then the night before we went to the island I had a full body wax! Seriously, I didn’t let any lad near me for a month! If you have ever had a bikini wax you know how painful that is, so doing all your bits was painful. Inflicting that kind of pain on yourself is next level! I just thought if I could do that I could do anything on the island!

What did you make of the other islanders when you got out there?

Before I got out there they asked me what my ideal man would be like, I was like, “He has to be tall, fit, strong, and vegan!” So I turned up on the island and met Marco for the first time and it was like they put my ideal man on the island with me! Straight away I thought I was in for five weeks of loving! He just seemed like the perfect man because he is tall, strong, an ex-marine and he is vegan too! What more could a girl ask for? We got on really well for the first week and then it all came crashing down. As soon as I realised I couldn’t get him wrapped round my little finger I just wasn’t interested anymore.

Were you annoyed he wouldn’t speak to you about the royal family?

Yeah it was so annoying because I had so many questions! I watch the Crown all the time on Netflix, so I had loads of questions about the royal family and what they were like, what’s it like in the palace and all of that! But I quickly realised he wasn’t going to answer any of my questions, not to me anyway!

What did you think when you found out there was going to be money on the island?

It wasn’t just about survival then, it became about money, it turned into a massive treasure hunt! I was just not interested in the money until I got out there and I knew it was around me and then I became obsessed! I thought it would be a nice problem to have but I wanted to concentrate on food, shelter and a fire first, but that all went out the window! I genuinely thought having seen how hard the show is that everybody would only be interested in making sure camp was okay, but we all became consumed by the money. Emily said to me that she wanted to go and find some money and I quickly realised that I could leave this experience with some cash in the bank.

You decided to hide some of the money you found, how did you feel about that at the time?

Yeah, so me and Emily decided we would keep whatever we found and not share it with any of the others, I had no qualms about doing that at all! I just treated it like putting the money in the bank, I had to find somewhere to keep it safe. We knew that we were allowed to steal money from each other if we had the chance so I made sure that I kept it with me all the time by cutting a hole in my backpack and stuffing it inside. It was a good job we did because Irene said she would’ve stolen it if she’d found it!

How did you feel when you found out others had hidden large sums of money?

I just thought fair play to them, I said to a few of them on several occasions that I knew how hard it was to find money on that island so I wouldn’t begrudge anyone keeping it if they found some. I was fully supportive of what they were doing because I was doing exactly the same! Anyone who says that they would have shared the money if they had been in our position is lying, I just don’t believe them, I think they would’ve done the same.

Were there any other divides in camp?

Oh yeah, you had the brains and brawn in that camp and they stuck together! That was Ivar and Marco. Ivar was a genius when it came to working out where everything was on the island and Marco could smash his way through anything. So the fact that those two hooked up with each other when it came to the money meant that the rest of us didn’t really stand a chance! I think it was a bit of an unfair advantage but fair play to them. Other than that there wasn’t really many divides, we were all in the same boat. There was talk at some point about the camps dividing as pressure around the money built up but I wanted to keep the camp together, I thought it was better that way. So that’s what we did. Irene didn’t like that either because she felt safer when Marco was in camp, she thought he was always going to protect her and look after her.

You dislocated your knee early on, that must have been painful?

Oh it was horrendous! I’ve done it loads of times in my life, it always seems to slip out and it’s so painful. I didn’t know how bad it was but I didn’t want to be taken off the island so I just had to take it easy for a while. That was why I was really annoyed that I was being called lazy because if you had seen my knee you have seen it was the size of an elephant’s! I couldn’t do anything about it. It was genuinely a very bad injury so the fact that they were having a go at me really pissed me off!

You were vegan when you went out there, how did you cope with the food situation?

I follow a plant based diet at home but that’s purely for aesthetics because I want to look thin all the time. But you just couldn’t do that on the island because you would’ve starved to death. Whenever we had food you just had to eat it no matter what it was in case that was the last bit of food you would have for a while. Honest to God I would’ve punched you in the face if you had tried to make me eat seafood before I went on that island. But now it’s all I eat! I eat fish every single day now. We also killed a goat while we were on the island, it wasn’t very nice to be honest because obviously we are used to seeing our meat packaged in a supermarket and not being killed in front of us. But Ivar did it and as he’s a farmer, he knew what he was doing so it was done as humanely as possible. None of the girls wanted to watch it happening but I did, it was educational. I was fascinated and horrified at the same time.

What was the hardest moment for you?

I think it was the sandflies. I woke up one morning covered in bites, they were all over me and it made me feel like my skin was on fire. I was itching so bad and on top of that I had really bad diarrhoea, I hadn’t washed my hair in God knows how long, I was a mess. So you’re there really needing the loo but you don’t want to go because if you do you’re going to have to expose your bum and it’s going to get covered in bites as well. It was horrific! Some days I just hated every second and couldn’t wait to get off the island. But I was never going to leave until Bear came back to get us, I’d set my mind to it however hard it got.

How much weight did you lose while you were out there?

I’m not joking, I looked amazing. I’d hit my dream weight. I was tanned so my teeth looked really white, honestly I thought I looked amazing! I wish I could get back to that weight! I lost nearly 2 stone and I didn’t have much to lose when I went out there! I know I’ll never be that weight again in my life!

How would you sum up the experience?

Oh it was amazing, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I recommend that everybody does it once in their life, I would do it again! I came back with so much clarity on things in my life, it made me realise what’s important and what’s not. I came back and I realised who in my life is important and who I can let go. I’ve got no tolerance anymore for the minutiae of peoples day-to-day life, it’s all nonsense and it doesn’t matter. I know what matters in life now and what doesn’t.