Think you could survive The Challenge?
The 33rd series of the show is coming soon to MTV UK, and sees reality stars from around the world fight their way through gruelling, physical and mental challenges for their share of a $1 million prize pot.
Stephen Bear, Ashley Cain, Georgia Harrison and Kyle Christie, pictured below, are just some of the celebrities taking part, and all admitted the 10 weeks of filming pushed them to the brink emotionally and physically.
Cameras are rolling 24/7 - not just when they're taking part in physical challenges in the Namibia desert, but when they were back at the house all the contestants shared too.
From emotional breakdowns to poker table pranks, the reality recruits spoke to BT TV exclusively to reveal the Secrets From the Set. of The Challenge: War of the Worlds
You can watch The Challenge: War Of The Worlds on MTV (BT channel number 309/371 HD), one of the 60+ premium entertainment channels available for BT TV customers.
First reactions? The new recruits were absolutely ‘petrified’
Judging from the celebs' first impressions of the show when they arrived for day one of filming, it’s safe to say they haven’t watched previous seasons!
Because it sounds like none of the newbies had any idea what to expect, or the brutality of what was yet to come...
Georgia Harrison, above middle, who’s previously starred in reality shows including Love Island and Towie, tells BT TV she was absolutely ‘petrified’ on the first day.
She says: “I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was going to be smooth sailing, literally the second we got there, s**t completely hit the fan. Honestly, there was a challenge from day one, and it was one of the most intense ones we did. I was petrified from day one.”
Ashley Cain, who’s known as The Beast in reality TV circles, says his first day on the set of The Challenge was ‘crazy’, as he thought it was going to be a holiday! Maybe he thought he was applying for Love Island?
He says: “We turned up, in the desert, in the middle of nowhere, you couldn’t see anything, it was pitch back, cold.
“Then we wake up the next day and get told, unless you win this challenge you could be going home straight away.
“So it was intense from the get go. It wasn’t what I expected, and it gave me a great taste of what’s to come, because you don’t get any rest in there, and if you do have a rest... you’ve got to be prepared to fight the next day.”
One person who appeared unfazed by what lay in store was Celebrity Big Brother winner Stephen Bear - although as a self-confessed joker, he could be bending the truth!
Bear tells us: “I saw it as a holiday camp. I had the best time of my life out there. People on there really overthink things. I’m like ‘chill out, have a laugh, let’s have a drink!’”
The dangerous challenges bring the thrill factor
There’s a reason The Challenge is a massive success in the States, and one of those reasons is the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! factor of seeing celebs face their fears.
But if you thought the I’m A Celeb challenges were, well, challenging, this is a whole different ball game. Let’s just say these celebs would be able to breeze through eating cockroaches!
Harrison says her favourite challenge was one that involved being part of a plane crash simulation.
She tells BT TV: “Towards the end of the challenge, you had to jump out onto the water and you are so high up, it was literally like being on the set of a movie! It was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.”
Geordie Shore’s Kyle Christie clearly loves the thrill of the show too, as he’s returning for War of the Worlds as a veteran. He's appeared in the last two seasons of The Challenge, subtitled Final Reckoning and Vendettas.
Of his favourite challenge to film this series, he recalls: “When we were on a lorry travelling through the desert at 50mph, jumping from lorry to lorry.
"It was dangerous! I’m starting to think that the other cast members look at these challenges and think ‘I hope Kyle falls here'.”
And it’s not always fun and games, because the risk factor of the challenges often leads to nasty injuries.
Cain, a former footballer who's appeared on Ex On The Beach, was injured during filming and sent to hospital.
"There was one point where I’d been to hospital... I got a really bad injury so I didn’t think I’d be able to complete The Challenge," he said.
“I came back, I ended up digging in and winning, which got me immunity. It was a great moment for me.”
On the subject of injuries, Christie shared this video on Instagram of him returning to the UK after filming a previous season of The Challenge, where he documented his “fractured wrist, fractured cheekbone, two broken toes and torn cruciate ligament”:
Downtime? What downtime?
Like Big Brother, The Challenge films 24/7. All the contestants live together under one roof, with all the major blows up caught on camera to add fuel to the fire.
Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio, above, is one of the show’s veteran contestants, having appeared in the most seasons - 19 to be precise.
Of the set-up for filming in the contestants' home, he explains: “We don’t have any music, any books, any magazines. You are 100% in the game, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."
This adds to the mental challenge element of the show, where all the contestants are encouraged to team up with other members, or cause rivalries.
Both Christie and Bear tell us that the fact the cameras were continuously filming meant they couldn’t relax, and they used to just sit alone with their thoughts, which was scary at times.
Bear, who won CBB in 2016, says: “We couldn’t relax. It was like ‘right everyone, back to work’. It was 24/7.
“I suppose you just sit by yourself and stare at a wall, or go into the garden and look at the sky for an hour until someone speaks to you.”
Christie agrees: “There isn’t really any wind-down time, you just sit looking at the wall shaking, and thinking about it all, until the next challenge.
“These kids, Ashley [Cain] and Georgia [Harrison], they came full of life, but I was like ‘you don’t know what you’re in for, it’s hell in here’.
Self-confessed family man Cain agrees that relaxing was difficult in the house, because a lot of the contestants were ‘playing a game’ when they got home to try and ensure their safety.
He says: “If you weren’t interested in doing that, it was like you were in a house with people who are all competing against each other, who have all got different motives and different agendas. So sometimes it was hard.
“I found it quite difficult. I had good friends in there, but it’s not like being at home, and when you’re in Africa, competing against 20-25 different people, who have all got an agenda to beat you or get you out, sometimes it can get quite lonely.”
However Bananas says that being in the house without any devices gives the contestants an opportunity to get to know each other better.
He says: “In 10 weeks, I get to know people better than friends I’ve had for 10 years”,
Nany Gonzalez, another veteran contestant, adds: “We don’t talk with our friends nearly as much as speaking to each other in The Challenge house [when we’re filming]”, while Harrison says she “made friends with everyone” during filming.
Bear, the poker table prankster
If you’ve watched Celebrity Big Brother, Ex On The Beach or Just Tattoo Of Us, you’ll know that Stephen Bear is a wind-up merchant, and likes nothing more than being the class prankster.
And he certainly played up this reputation during filming.
Towie's Georgia Harrison, who is thought to have struck up a romance with Bear during filming for the show, reveals to BT TV: “Bear did dive head first through a poker table to piss everyone off. It was Kyle [Christie]’s idea!”
Bear later admitted to us that is indeed what he did, because nobody wanted him to play poker - so he decided to ruin it for everyone else.
He explains: “What happened was, nobody wanted me to play poker, and I’ve gone in there to play poker, they didn’t deal me in, and the people behind them, they dealt them in.
“So I’ve gone downstairs and been like, ‘if I’m not playing poker, nobody’s playing poker’. When you see what I did, you’ll be like ‘wow!’ I ruined it for everyone. It was amazing.”
As annoying as Bear must have been to have around on the show, his arrival - along with the rest of the British newbies - injected some much-needed energy into the house.
Bananas, the self-confessed ‘face of the franchise’, says: “There was this great injection of new blood. We’re so cynical because we’ve done this [show] so many times.
“It’s like showing up to go into battle, because you just know it’s going to be a slog. It’s going to be 10 weeks of mental and psychological warfare.
“They come in, getting ready every night, they don’t know what they’re in for. They’re having such a good time!"
Emotions run high as you’re cut off from the outside world
It’s hard to believe anyone could survive The Challenge, so it’s no wonder emotions got the better of some contestants at times - especially as they had to endure the show without support from friends or family.
Harrison, above left, admits to BT TV: “I cried about 10 times yeah, I cried a lot. I think I’m even crying in [The Challenge] advert, thanks MTV!
“I think it was because of all different things. The stress, I think romance can get to you while you’re out there and make you very emotional, also the fact that people are going home, you know?
“It’s never nice to see a friend go home. I’m quite empathetic so I can relate to people’s emotions and I can’t help but cry. I’m a crier.”
Christie sympathetically agrees: “The things you go through with other cast members, you’ll never go through that with anyone else in life, so it is very emotional in there.”
Having been in The Challenge for 13 years, Bananas, below, reckons that having your phones taken away is a ‘mental challenge’, and plays to the format of the show.
He tells BT TV: “It messes with your head, when you’re isolated, and you don’t have an outlet to the outside world. The Challenge becomes your world.
“The rules keep changing too, every week there’s a new twist and turn. You never know what’s going to happen, there’s constantly new curveballs, and it’s constantly changing.
“It’s about staying on your toes and showing up every day to compete. You’re competing for a lot of cash in a very, very stressful environment, with a lot of mean and hungry humans. It’s crazy what that causes. The television that that causes is pretty spectacular.”
Cain admits that he found it ‘difficult’ not being able to speak to friends or family. He tells us: “For me, I’m a massive family man, I like to speak to my family, my girl, and that’s what I do every day.
“So being out there, I felt isolated, because you get one call a week or every two weeks, for 10 minutes. That’s it.”
Of the phone calls you’re allowed, Harrison says you’re on your guard that you don’t reveal too much about what’s going on in the show, as not to jeaprodise your choices.
She says: “[Friends and family] are asking you questions, and you can’t even tell them what you’re doing. You’re just like ‘Tell me about you, because I can’t tell you anything about me!’”
Kyle adds: “They give us the call at 11pm on a Saturday night. All my friends and family are out at that time! I had to ring my mum at the pub.”
Although there was one person who, again, seemed unfazed about being unable to speak to loved ones - Bear.
He says: “I loved [not being able to call home]. I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I didn’t even want my phone! It’s good to be away from people wanting things. It was amazing.”
But once you finish the competition, the contestants agreed it’s weird adjusting to non-The Challenge life, and felt ‘institutionalised’.
Harrison says: “ I didn’t know what day it was when I got home. Being away from home for so long, with no phone, no connection to the outside world, you get institutionalised! I had a big girls’ sleepover for my birthday [when I got home]!”
Ashley adds: “[When it finished] I was glad to be in a nice, safe environment, with no sand. I began to hate sand, because there was sand everywhere! Plus I could wake up and think I’m not going to be hung 500ft in the air down a cliff today.”
Kyle concludes: “You don’t know what to do with your freedom when you get out…”
Watch the trailer for The Challenge: War Of The Worlds
The Challenge: War of The Worlds premieres Wednesday, April 17 at 9pm on MTV (BT channel number 309/371 HD).
MTV is one of the extra entertainment channels available for BT TV customers.