Ben Hanlin is hoping to win over audiences as one of the contestants on this series of Dancing On Ice, but his previous job as host of Tricked, a prank show, made him pretty unpopular with some celebrities, including fellow DOI alumni.
Hanlin was chatting to Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time and revealed his prank on Gemma Collins nearly backfired – on her manager.
As part of the prank, the GC was asked to be the face of a beer brand called The Bear and to appear in a TV advert.
“We basically hired an animatronic bear that looked like a real bear, and we strapped her to a tree and then the bear started going nuts and attacking her,” recalled Hanlin.
“She gets free, she storms off. I put my head out of this bear suit and go, ‘It's me’. And I'm thinking she’ll go, 'Oh, you little scamp, you.' She didn't say that.”
After swearing at Hanlin, the TOWIE star stormed off and got into her car, forgetting that her mic was still on.
“We can hear her and she's going [to her manager], 'Why do you think this is funny? Oh, you're fired, you're done.'
“And then you hear people go, 'Yeah, you might want to finish the scene and go back, otherwise we can't really pay that fee.' Funny enough, we finished the scene.”
Hanlin said extreme reactions are part and parcel of pranking people but that thankfully the pair have since made up.
“You are winding people up and you don't know how they're going to react,” he told Kate. “But do you know what? She has forgiven me. She was brilliant.”
Collins wasn’t the only celebrity Hanlin managed to wind up in a spectacular fashion. One prank he did with boyband Blue resulted in lots of complaints to ITV.
Hanlin explained that the basic premise was Simon Webbe from Blue was in a caravan that went over a cliff. “They've got no idea they're being filmed,” laughed Hanlin. “I'm undercover. I go, 'Oh, let's get you into wardrobe.' It's a caravan. Caravan starts moving.
“As it starts moving, Lee Ryan – you've got to check this out – does the best Phoebe from Friends run ever! Starts chasing it, going 'Get out, get out now, you're going to die!' It goes over the cliff. Smashes. Lee Ryan drops to his knees and starts crying. We had to edit that out a little bit... And then we popped up out some hay bales and went, 'It's just a gag!'”
The former CBBC presenter said the stunt really shook the boyband up and they needed a little bit of help to get over their ordeal.
“We went to the pub afterwards,” Hanlin said. “They had to knock back some whiskys just to steady their nerves because they were like, 'I thought my friend had just died,' but it’s Blue, so it's allowed, isn't it?”
Hanlin appears on the new series of Dancing On Ice, which airs on 5 January 2020.
Hear Ben Hanlin talk more about his magic and why he’d love to do a magic show with Jesus, alongside fellow Dancing On Ice star Matt Evers, in the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.