“When you get older, younger people just look through you,” says 71-year-old Nancy Ashmawy, ahead of the release of her new six-part series for Sky 1 HD. We don’t think she’ll have that problem for too much longer…
50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy follows the Irish mother on a Karl Pilkington-meets-Jack Nicholson’s-Bucket-List-style adventure, in which Nancy’s son Baz goads her into gambling her pension in Las Vegas, snake charming in Morocco, bounty hunting in LA and using a stun gun on him, just for the craic.
“It all started around my kitchen table while we were having a cup of tea,” says Nancy, “all the big decisions at home are made over a cup of tea.” After hearing about some skydiving nuns on the radio she said to her presenter son Baz: “I’d quite like to do a skydive.”
“I was quite dismissive of it at first,” explains Baz. “We do that with our own parents, we dismiss them. At the same time, I think elderly people are treated a certain way, and it’s wrong, it’s not fair and it’s judgmental.”
Baz started to look into whether his mother could do a skydive and realised that 70 and 80-year-olds had previously done them. “It kind of snowballed from there,” says Baz, who later signed his mum up for a six-part TV series and activities including shooting machine guns, scary roller coaster rides, flying jet fighter planes and driving a mustang. “I’m a nervous driver at the best of times,” jokes Nancy. “When I was younger I never allowed the radio on in the car so I could concentrate.”
Some of the stunts Baz keeps secret for the show, and tries to convince his mum to try them on the spot. In true Karl Pilkington fashion she point blank refuses to get involved in many of his more ridiculous ideas. “If mum doesn’t want to do something, she just won’t do it,” says Baz. But to his surprise, she often steps up to the plate.
Nancy comically straddles crocodiles, goes zip-lining and attends a ladyboy show. She also jumps into the shark-infested sea, despite not being able to swim and being petrified of water, and completes a skydive after eating a panini.
“Watching it back, she’s a pretty amazing woman,” says Baz. “It’s a great story about a mum and son together.”
Nancy hopes it will inspire a generation of pensioners to go on their own adventure. “I hope people that are my age, will think – if she can do it, I can do it,” she says. But before your fling yourself out of a moving plane, Nancy offers some valuable advice: “If you ever want to do a skydive, never eat a panini beforehand.”
50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy begins at 9pm on 25th August 25 on Sky 1 HD and Sky 1