Matt Hancock says Celebrity SAS appearance made him ‘look into himself’: ‘It really opens your eyes’

Matt Hancock has described his stint on the forthcoming series of Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins as “one of the toughest physical and mental things I’ve ever done”.

The former Tory politician, who was health minister during the Covid-19 pandemic, is returning to reality TV following on from his surprisingly successful stint on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!.

Hancock will appear on series five of Celebrity SAS, a star-studded edition of the reality show where competitors are challenged to see if they can pass the gruelling SAS selection test.

Speaking about his time on the show, which returns on Tuesday 26 September, the independent MP, 44, said that he’d come to a place of self-reflection during filming in Vietnam.

“Being on SAS was like nothing else I’ve ever experienced,” Hancock said.

“It’s one of the toughest physical and mental things I’ve ever done. It really opens your eyes and makes you look into yourself.”

He continued: “After coming through the most challenging period as Health Secretary during the pandemic, I wanted to push my limits. It’s safe to say the course tested my resilience!”

The cast of ‘Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins’ (Channel 4)
The cast of ‘Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins’ (Channel 4)

Hancock filmed Celebrity SAS before I’m a Celebrity, and declared in the MPs’ Register of Interests that he was paid £45,000 to appear on the Channel 4 show. According to reports, he received around £400,000 for his time in the jungle.

In July, Celebrity SAS’s chief instructor Billy Billingham revealed that he and his team “really went at” Hancock during filming.

“You might think that he’d be a c*** but for most of the time he wasn’t,” Billingham told The Sun. “But if anyone shows any attitude, they get it and when he tried it, he got f***ing smashed.

“In the interrogation bit, he gets destroyed, absolutely destroyed. At the time I thought, ‘Oh, hang on, maybe this is a bit much?’ But no, he deserved it.”

He added: “The idea is every single contestant will either leave on day one or will leave as a better version of themselves and with Matt Hancock, he’s still got a long way to go.”

Hancock on ‘I’m a Celebrity’ (ITV)
Hancock on ‘I’m a Celebrity’ (ITV)

Also taking part 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; actor Kirsty-Leigh Porter; Olympian Perri Shakes-Drayton; and Paralympian Jon-Allan Butterworth.

The independent MP for West Suffolk, Hancock served under various roles in the Conservative cabinet between 2015 and 2021. He was health minister from 2018 to 2021, during which he was widely criticised for the government’s handling of the pandemic.

He resigned from the roled in June 2021 after he was caught on CCTV breaching his own social distancing guidelines while kissing Gina Coladangelo, an advisor with whom he was having an extra-marital affair.

Hancock then returned to the Tory backbench, but lost the whip in November 2022 when it was announced that he had joined the cast of I’m a Celebrity.

Despite significant criticism from politicians and viewers alike, that a sitting MP was appearing on the show, Hancock won over many viewers and came third place.

Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins returns on Tuesday 26 September at 9.30pm on Channel 4, and continues on Sundays from 1 October at 9pm.