Olympic gold medallist Tessa Sanderson is one of five stars taking an on-screen holiday together in Celebrity 5 Go Barging. She tells Georgia Humphreys about the highs and lows of boating in France with presenter Penny Smith, actor Tom Conti, gardener Diarmuid Gavin, and singer Tony Christie.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO BE PART OF ‘CELEBRITY 5 GO BARGING’?
When they said the people who were going, I thought, ‘Hmm, OK, this will be interesting!’ And also, I thought it’d be a great idea, just travelling up the canal. It was immense fun. I’ve never done anything like it.
IT MUST HAVE BEEN QUITE DIFFERENT TO YOUR NORMAL HOLIDAYS?
Absolutely! I’ve never shared a room for so long with anyone, apart from my own family of course. I wanted to test myself, and see how I’d live in such proximity. It was a good challenge.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF THE SHOW?
What really, really was challenging was the locks. Oh god! There was a section that I will never forget, called The Nine Locks. It was like going round Hyde Park roundabout ... all the different entrances, you have to make sure you get through and get it right.
Then, physically, you have to make sure you hold on to that rope, so the ship doesn’t drift away or you get trapped in the door or something like that. It was very, very physical.
YOU AND PENNY HAD ONE BOAT, WHILE TOM, DIARMUID, AND TONY WERE ON THE OTHER ONE. WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEING IN CONTROL OF A BARGE?
It was a little bit scary the first time I had to go through [a lock], and I thought: “I’m never gonna do this.” In all honesty, Penny did most of the driving. But, at the end of it, I felt that I could do it, and I did manage to get through a couple of locks quite confidently. I’ll pat myself on the head — it’s not an easy job and, even though you’ve won an Olympic
gold medal, hey, that doesn’t solve anything! This is a totally different environment.
HOW DID YOU GET ON WITH ALL YOUR CAST-MATES?
It was a perfect bunch that I was cast with, to be honest. Lots of fun, different characters, great humour. I loved working with Penny. And then the boys as well, I just thought it was a perfect casting because Tony is very mild-mannered; Diarmuid, mad, crazy gardener, but a lot of fun, always up and going in the morning; Tom, smoothest actor you can find. I am so glad I watched Shirley Valentine because oh, he’s so adorable!
HAS THE EXPERIENCE MADE YOU WANT TO DO MORE REALITY SHOWS - MAYBE ‘I’M A CELEBRITY... GET ME OUT OF HERE!’, OR ‘BIG BROTHER’?
Absolutely, I think that I could take that on. That sort of jungle life [in I’m a Celebrity] wouldn’t frighten me anymore. Some of the bugs maybe would be a massive challenge for me — but that’s a good show. And Big Brother would teach me about living close in that environment with other people. You would have to really be on your guard I’d say... you’d have to learn to keep your temper. Whereas here [on Celebrity 5 Go Barging], it was a bit of an even keel.
HOW DID YOU FIND BEING AWAY FROM YOUR FAMILY FOR TWO WEEKS WHILE FILMING?
The second week, it was my twins’ fifth birthday. I had to do a Skype call and I saw them and all the people in my house, and I felt a little bit choked at that. It’s hard when you’re away doing something, especially when you’re close to your family... but there was still communication with them. And that made the whole thing seem much more homely.
WOULD YOU TAKE THEM ON A BARGING HOLIDAY NOW?
Definitely! This is one up on my
husband — he’s always wanted to drive a boat by himself, but I’ve beat him to that one. And the kids, I think they would love it. I don’t know if I’d do it for more than [a week], because it can get a little bit tedious. But a seven-dayer, I think would be lots of fun.
Celebrity 5 Go Barging is on Channel 5 on Fridays at 8pm