“Be careful about conclusions you draw about people you’ve never met. I looked at the list of people and I was like, man, are you serious? This for a month? I’m actually a bit ashamed of that”.
Like most comedians, funny man and snowboarding enthusiast Marcus Brigstocke is not largely known for his frank, philosophical remarks. Many will recognise the serial satirist from Have I Got News For You or Love Actually, whereas ski and comedy fans may know him from setting up the hugely successful Altitude Comedy Festival in Mayrhofen, Austria, near Innsbruck where The Jump is set.
It seems the new show is bringing out a wonderful, softer side to him rarely seen with professional comedians. Obviously inspired by his experience so far, he was keen to tell me a story about his familiarity to snow sports before joining the show.
“You know I used to ski years ago, and stopped all that for snowboarding which is easier and more fun. Big spongy carpet slippers, only one piece of equipment to worry about...”
“There was a day that was both devastating and awesome in equal measure. My 9 year old son worked incredibly hard all week at ski school in Val D’isere. ‘I’m gonna bring you down The Face , one of the greatest ever downhill courses. I started picking up speed, and he stayed right with me. Then I was going pretty much as fast as I can go, and he said ‘am I alright to go now dad?’ and he just shot past me. It’s devastating.”
Contestants, including Essex girl Amy Childs and Olympic hero Steve Redgrave, have been training hard with Warren Smith and former Team GB skeleton racer Amy Williams. It tests celebrities on Winter sport disciplines, including downhill ski and the bone-shatteringly scary skeleton bob, in which they slide down a course head first. But scariest of all is apparently ‘the jump’ itself.
“The Jump is other worldly in terms of how scary it is. If you ski, you’ve probably done small kickers or little off-piste jumps, maybe hit a mogul with a bit of enthusiasm. This is different. Your ski’s get slotted in rails, and you can’t see anything you’re going to land on until you’re above it and in the air. I’m not an adrenaline junkie or anything like that…” “When I landed it I punched the air, and as soon as I was on my own, I felt tears stream down my face. I just turned to jelly and started crying. Unlike many of the other contestants, I’m still scared of the jump in a very visceral kind of way.”
“Darren Gough, Laura Hamilton and Anthea Turner are fast becoming very good jumpers. Sinitta put skis on her feet for the first time a few weeks ago, and she’s been off the jump. She’s a lovely lady, but she’s not what you think of as a daredevil, adrenaline junkie or whatever - She does it with quiet determination. Same with Amy Childs, star of reality world. She learnt to ski a few weeks ago. The first day she put speed skis on, and coach said, ‘point down, tuck down, build your speed’, and she just nailed it. The video you see of her going ‘oh my god, oh my god’ – she gets a lot better than that.”
The mere thought of Sinitta or Amy Childs scorpioning themselves in the head or face-planting the snow may sound like comedy gold for some sniggering viewers. But not for Brigstocke, who seems to have taken a shine to his new group of buddies.
“I’m not here to collect stories on the people here. I’ll be interested to see how facing fears affects the next few stand up shows I do.”
“Stand up is about exploring ideas in a fearless kind of way, but it’s a bit different to physical danger. But yeah there’ll definitely be material, if only making reference to the race suit they’ve got me in. Not a good look for a man of my size.”
To many fans of Altitude, this “new material” could make an appearance at the next festival in March.
“I can’t wait. A bunch of clowns up in the mountains, jumping around on our boards during the day, jumping around on stage at night... I’m out of the business side of Altitude now which suits me better. It makes me so proud that the festival is out there. This is for skiers and comedy lovers.”
It’s not been all about the laughs though on set. Any sport that instigates fear of this magnitude has an element of danger – viewers may have been disappointed to see a few rumoured contestants missing in the live show on Sunday night.
“There’s a couple of injuries I can’t tell you about, because we’re not sure how It’s going to affect taking part in the show. But I can tell you we’ve had Sam Jones (Flash Gordon) have his entire shoulder rebuilt. Then we have 2 broken bones possibly 3, bruising like I’ve never seen on anybody, and a ruptured hamstring I can confirm I’m in good shape though.”
Injuries aside, it seems the show has brought an otherwise misfitting group of celebrities together, in what could turn out to be a great bit of TV. I ask Brigstocke what he has learnt since starting the show;
“On a serious note, fears overcome makes you feel very good and those things are worth pursuing. On a further philosophical note – be careful about conclusions you draw about people you’ve never met. I looked at the list of people, and I was like, man, are you serious? This for a month? I’m actually a bit ashamed of that. These are actually really awesome people. I’ve shared with them some profound moments of overcoming some full-on fears. Oh, and I’ve learned to skeleton bob.”
…and the golden question. CAN HE WIN?
“It is possible. I’m not a very good jumper. Ultimately it comes down to that. With the other disciplines, I’m in the top 3. To play for the win is not what the cool boys do. I wanna win, I wanna get to the final.”