Matt Hancock has described his role in the upcoming series celebrity SAS: Whoever dares wins as “one of the hardest physical and mental things I have ever done.”
The former Tory politician, who was health secretary during the Covid-19 pandemic, is returning to reality TV after his surprisingly successful term I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!.
Hancock will appear in the fifth season of Celebrity SASa star-studded edition of the reality show that challenges contestants to see if they can pass the grueling SAS selection test.
Speaking about his time on the show, which returns on Tuesday, September 26, the 44-year-old independent MP said he came to a point of self-reflection while filming in Vietnam.
“To be present SAS was like nothing else I’ve ever experienced,” Hancock said.
“It is one of the hardest physical and mental things I have ever done. It really opens your eyes and lets you look inside yourself.”
He continued: “Having endured the most difficult period as Health Minister during the pandemic, I wanted to push myself to the limit. It’s safe to say the course tested my resilience!”
Hancock filmed Celebrity SAS Before I’m a celebrity, and told MPs’ register of interests that he was paid £45,000 for his appearance on the Channel 4 show. He was reportedly paid around £400,000 for his time in the jungle.
In July, Celebrity SAS‘s head instructor Billy Billingham revealed that he and his team “really took aim” at Hancock during filming.
“You’d think he’d be an asshole, but most of the time he wasn’t,” Billingham said The sun. “But when anyone shows an attitude, he understands it, and when he tried it he was completely devastated.
“In the interrogation he is destroyed, absolutely destroyed. At the time I thought, ‘Oh wait, maybe that’s a bit much?’ But no, he deserved it.”
He added: “The idea is that every single contestant leaves either on day one or a better version of themselves and with Matt Hancock he still has a long way to go.”
Also join in Celebrity SAS: Who dares wins are singers Gareth Gates, Michelle Heaton and Siva Kaneswaran; TV personality Danielle Lloyd; presenter Melinda Messenger; footballer Jermaine Pennant; rugby player Gareth Thomas; reality TV stars James “Arg” Argent, Montana Brown, Teddy Soares and Amber Turner; comedian Zoe Lyons; actress Kirsty-Leigh Porter; Olympian Perri Shakes-Drayton; and Paralympian Jon-Allan Butterworth.
Hancock, the independent MP for West Suffolk, served in various roles in the Conservative cabinet between 2015 and 2021. He was Minister of Health from 2018 to 2021 and was widely criticized for the government’s handling of the pandemic during this time.
He stepped down from the role in June 2021 after he was caught on CCTV violating his own social distancing guidelines while kissing Gina Coladangelo, a consultant with whom he had an extramarital affair.
Hancock subsequently returned to the Tory backbench, but lost the post in November 2022 when it was announced he had joined the cast of I’m a celebrity.
Despite significant criticism from politicians and viewers that a sitting MP appeared on the show, Hancock won over many viewers and came third.
Celebrity SAS: Who dares wins The show returns to Channel 4 on Tuesday September 26th at 9.30pm and continues on Sundays at 9pm from October 1st.