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Matt Hancock pushes limit on Celebrity SAS after ‘adversity’ as health secretary

Matt Hancock said he wanted to push his limits on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins after emerging from a “challenging period as health secretary during the pandemic”.

The West Suffolk MP stars in the show’s biggest line-up with 16 famous faces, including Gareth Gates, Melinda Messenger and James Argent, being put through their paces in the jungle phase of SAS selection in Thung Ui, North Vietnam.

The gruelling Channel 4 show is returning to TV screens on September 26 with seven 60-minute episodes, featuring chief instructor Mark “Billy” Billingham, and his directing staff Jason “Foxy” Fox, Rudy Reyes and Chris Oliver.

Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo
Former health secretary Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo (Lucy North/PA)

Among the recruits for the upcoming series is Mr Hancock, who was health secretary for almost three years but resigned in June 2021 after it emerged he had broken his own Covid-19 guidance by kissing and embracing aide Gina Coladangelo in his office.

He said: “Being on SAS was like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. 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.

“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 44-year-old added.

Mr Hancock lost the Tory whip over his stint in the Australian jungle on the ITV reality show on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in 2022, which was criticised by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Gareth Gates
Gareth Gates (Yui Mok/PA)

Fellow Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins recruit Gates, who found fame on TV talent show Pop Idol, described the show as “an experience like no other”.

“I learnt very quickly that there is a difference between being gym fit and battle fit,” the 39-year-old said.

While TV presenter Messenger, 52, said : “It was incredible, the most intensely physically challenging thing I’ve done”, and former The Only Way Is Essex star Argent, 35, described it as: “The type of show that pushes you to breaking point.”

Also taking part are singers Michelle Heaton and Siva Kaneswaran, TV Personality Danielle Lloyd, former footballer Jermaine Pennant and former rugby player Gareth Thomas, as well as reality stars Montana Brown, Teddy Soares and Amber Turner.

Comedian Zoe Lyons, actress Kirsty-Leigh Porter, British Olympian Perri Shakes-Drayton and Paralympic gold medallist Jon-Allan Butterworth will also feature in the upcoming series.

The fifth celebrity series is a spin-off of the original SAS: Who Dares Wins which saw civilians put through military training exercises to test their physical and mental strength.

Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins returns to Channel 4 on September 26 at 9.30pm.