SAS TV challenge star Helen Skelton aided by Leeds Rhinos to prove who dares wins
SOME rugby league skills she never even realised she possessed came to the fore as daring Countryfile star Helen Skelton got physical in Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.
The TV and radio presenter is starring on the Channel 4 show which sees former Special Forces soldiers, including Ant Middleton, put celebrities through an adapted version of the torturous selection process cadets must pass to join the Army’s elite regiments.
She joined the likes of former world champion boxer Tony Bellew, reality star Katie Price, Strictly Come Dancing favourite Brendan Cole and ex-England striker John Fashanu for the gruelling week-long ordeal on remote Scottish island Raasay.
As the wife of Leeds Rhinos and England scrum-half Richie Myler, you would imagine the 36-year-old would be au fait with all things rugby.
But Skelton told The Yorkshire Post: “There was a funny moment filming when we’re playing ‘murder-ball’ and fighting for a tyre. I completely misunderstood, though, and thought it was proper rugby.
“I kept screaming ‘defend the line, defend the line!’ Tony Bellew kept saying ‘we only need the figgin tyre, we don’t have to stop them scoring!’
“Stupid things like that happened. At one point, I flipped over Yasmin Evans, from BBC Radio 1Xtra, and was holding her down. They were saying I watched too much rugby being married to Richie.
“I tried explaining that I don’t actually really take much of it in – but obviously I do!”
She got advice from Rhinos’ head of physical performance Chris Black to prepare for the challenges.
“He told Richie that I should do all this different stuff beforehand,” said Skelton.
“It’s funny, though, as the one thing I muck up on is the only thing on Blackie’s training schedule that I didn’t do.
“I thought I’d be fine but he put it in for a reason; he’s a massive fan of the show and knew it’d come up. I should have paid more attention to it!”
The Cumbrian is best known for her time on Blue Peter from 2008 to 2013 when she completed numerous incredible mental and physical challenges, such as kayaking the length of the Amazon River alone and being the first person in history to reach the South Pole on a bike.
It should, then, be no surprise she was quickly installed as favourite to win Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins which airs on Monday nights.
“I wanted to do it as it’s been years since I’ve done anything like that,” said Skelton, who has two young sons with Rhinos star Myler.
“I think when you become a parent everything changes – and so it should. I did think ‘can I still do that?’
“But as soon as I agreed, I felt there was more pressure on me as people did seem to think ‘she’ll be amazing’ and there was more expectation. It’s different when you have kids. I really noticed it with Lauren Steadman (British Paralympian).
“She’s amazing and kept saying things that I’d say when I was in my Blue Peter days like ‘what’s the worst that can happen… they’re not going to let us die!’
“But when you’re a parent you are more aware of things like that as you’re more aware of the consequences.
“If I break my leg, I can’t play football with the kids. I put my back out, I can’t pick my kid up out of his cot.
“It was a different mindset for me and I found it a lot more stressful than I thought I would.
“But I just wanted to do it as it’s pretty cool isn’t it? Jumping out of helicopters and abseiling down big buildings… who wouldn’t want to do that!?”
Meanwhile, Myler, 29, is desperate to get back into action with rugby league being shutdown since mid-March due to coronavirus.
Skelton added: “Rich definitely has a new appreciation for stay-at-home parents; when I get in from work he says it’s been exhausting but I say ‘you run into blokes head first so how is this exhausting?’
“We’re renovating our house (in Leeds) as well so that’s keeping him busy. Before lockdown, some of the (Rhinos) boys – Mikolaj Oledzki, Tom Holroyd and Muizz Mustapha – would come around and help.
“It was really nice of them and I don’t want to be that person who’s saying ‘What are you doing!?’ but they are definitely bull in a china shop territory.
“I wanted to keep a lovely 1850s exposed, original Yorkshire Stone wall but they all took the plaster off so aggressively that it all had to come out.
“In the nicest possible way, he’s saving us money by doing it himself – but it’s probably actually costing us!”
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