Tonight ITV launch a new ‘reality series’ Drive in which a bunch of ‘celebrities’, me included, tackle some terrifying driving challenges for no good reason bar the fun of participation. To say it was scary would be to undervalue the word. Knee deep in mud, sliding at speed around racetracks, hurling cars off precipitous obstacles or making them ‘jump’ were just a few of the delights we had thrown at us.
There’s a presumption with a TV show that it will be sanitised danger but in the case of Drive I can assure you, from grim experience, that’s not true! Everyday I was on the verge of tears, or paralysed by terror at what lay ahead. Having undertaken one of the Worlds Most Dangerous Roads for the BBC with Angus Deayton (we’re reunited on Drive as you’ll see), which you can look at via this website, I found I had a taste for adventure driving in exotic places. I’m not sure I have the same taste for competitive stunts! As you’ll also discover later in the series, I suffer more wear and tear than my gearbox. Anyway far be it from me to divulge the shows secrets.
Now the driving is over the real terror is how I’ll be cast, for with a reality show you have no control over the ‘persona’ they’ll hone in on. In the course of one day we are all happy, angry, frustrated, amusing, hysterical, impatient, fearful and so on. Being on a show like this involves having the full gamut of your emotions edited down from a huge stock of footage. I suspect I’ll be Grumpy, which I was on many occasions, but hopefully not to the exclusion of any other emotions!
When they asked if I’d join the team I leapt at the chance having stalked Chris Evans to no avail for a job on the new Top Gear. I LOVE driving have done since the day I passed my test, first time, at age 18, and felt the freedom it represented. Two weeks later, licence in hand I headed for France and spent two weeks behind the wheel trying to become a better driver. Down A roads and along the coast, up terrifyingly steep mountains and speeding down the Route Du Soleil, I found I had a taste for the open road, wind in my hair and no specific destination. Nowadays my adventures tend to be limited to family roads trips to Scotland in our beloved Landrover Discovery and a cheap hire car on foreign holidays.
Anyone who’s read The Wind in the Willows will recognise my driving style from that of Toad of Toad Hall, barely able to see over the steering wheel but aggressive, speedy and enthusiastic!
Log on tomorrow for my post-mortum on the first episode. DRIVE ITV 9pm