In theory, a programme like Bear Grylls: Mission Survive should attract the highest calibre of celebrity.
Unlike Big Brother or I’m a Celebrity, it’s more than just a popularity contest. Unlike Strictly, there’s no strange systemic need to sex everyone up for the dads. And unlike The Jump, you know that people aren’t watching purely to see you ruin your spine on a rock. Besides, this is Bear Grylls. His famous friends are legendary. He’s had Channing Tatum and Kate Winslet on his show. He’s had Barack Obama on his show, for crying out loud. The man knows how to book.
Then again, if you watched the first series of Mission Survive last year, you might know enough to modulate your expectations a little. There was an Olympic athlete, yes, but also three actors, a Loose Woman and Brian McFadden’s wife. And she ended up winning.
However, even though a 12-day survival trek through punishing terrain – Costa Rica last time, South Africa this time – sounds like the sort of impossible-to-replicate experience that most people would drop everything for, series two of Mission Survive has again failed to summon anyone of real importance.
But hey, someone’s got to win. So here are the contestants ranked in order of impressiveness, from worst to best.
You’ll know Jason as one of the judges from Dancing on Ice. He was the mean one, who constantly spouted haughty spite to distract everyone from the fact that his hair and beard looked like they’d been applied by an airbrush artist working from a drawing of damp candyfloss. If ever there was a man who appeared to lack the staying power to survive a trek with Bear Grylls, it’s him.
Best known for his role as hapless manual labourer Sammy The Chamois on Noel’s House Party, there’s little to suggest that Morrissey would be able to cope with 12 days of brutal heat and terrifying terrain. Yes, he starred in the 2012 Danny Dyer comedy Run For Your Wife, which might suggest a natural affinity for hellish environments, but I’d argue that the opposite is true. He’s stared into the face of true horror once, so he’ll be in no rush to do it again.
Alex is a professional footballer, so we can expect to see endless pampered bleating, gauche displays of material wealth and – if things get really bad – wobbly iPhone footage of a racist orgy. But wait! Alex Scott is a female professional footballer! Does that affect her chances? To be honest, God knows.
This year’s winner of the What The Hell Are You Doing Here? award, Barks is best known for her role as Eponine in the Oscar-winning adaptation Les Misérables. Mission Survive might seem an odd choice for a soft-handed thespian, but look at her Les Mis experience. She endured months of close proximity to both Anne Hathaway emoting at full tilt and Russell Crowe’s singing voice. She must basically be all scar tissue by this point.
There’s something about Michelle Collins that suggests she’s seen things. She won’t be easily shocked. She knows her own worth, and she’ll scrap to high heaven if she’ll get what she wants. Nothing Bear Grylls can throw at her will slow her down, unless one of the challenges involves doing a convincing northern accent, because I saw her on Coronation Street once and Jesus Christ.
On paper the out-and-out winner. Former England footballer Stuart Pearce is the physical representation of indomitability. He knows what it’s like to slowly grind out a punishing yet satisfying rise through the ranks. He knows how to harness a feeling and use it to push him to ever greater things. He … look, he seems like he might have a temper on him, and it’d be funny to see him telling a snake to piss off. That’s all.
It’s hard to escape the feeling that former Waterloo Road actor Chelsee Healey is appearing on Mission Survive simply because it’s a paid entertainment show, and she’s gunning for the full house. She’s been on Strictly. She’s been on Pointless. She’s been on Get Your Act Together. She’s been on I Love My Country, for God’s sake. To be fair, if the woman can survive both Get Your Act Together and I Love My Country, she’ll probably find the South African wilderness a piece of cake. She will win this.