Time Crashers: Meet the celebrities

Ten famous faces leave the 21st century behind and crash-land into different moments in British history in Channel 4's new show

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Kirstie Alley, Fern Britton, Louise Minchin, Zoe Smith, Meg Mathews, Keith Allen, Greg Rutherford, Charlie Condou, Jermaine Jenas and Chris Ramsey are thrown into unfamiliar and unpleasant situations in Channel 4’s new reality show Time Crashers. Below, they explain why on earth they agreed to take part.

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Fern Britton, 58

Famous for: Presenting ITV’s This Morning with Phillip Schofield until 2009 and doing a turn on Strictly Come Dancing

Why should TV fans tune in to Time Crashers?

Oh, I think because it’s very informative, but I think it’s going to be very funny as well.

What was your favourite era?

Funnily enough, it was the Victorian time. We were fishwives and fishermen, and we were down on the east coast somewhere, and it was bloody cold and wet and windy – it was really good graft, and we all worked as a team…

Was the fact that it wasn’t a popularity contest important to you?

Yes. I have nothing against those shows as a viewer, I love – my big secret crush – Celebrity Big Brother, I love it. So I have nothing against those shows, but I personally would not like to take part in them. So this is different because it had a real essence of learning something as well, and working as a team.

Chris Ramsey, 29

Famous for: Stand-up comedy and panel shows like Mock the Week and Never Mind The Buzzocks

It was tough, but did you have a good time on the show?

We did, and it was tough, but I’ve got mates that work on building sites 9-5 and I couldn’t do that, so even in this day and age, and without even going to third world countries or migrant workers who have to basically work until they die. So it was tough, If you ever whinged about it, you had to keep it in your mind that this was an experience. If I was actually in those time periods I would have been executed every single time. So it’s like, ‘You’re lucky to be alive, mate!’

Did you agree to the show because there was no pitting people against each other like other shows?

Yes, massively. I would never do anything like that. They were like, ‘Look, it’s not going to be like anything you’ve seen before, it’s going to be historically accurate, so you might learn something, Geordie boy!’ My immediate thought was, ‘If Katie Hopkins is in then I’m f***ing leaving immediately’. There was no one in there like that at all, which was just great.

Kirstie Alley, 64

Famous for: Playing Rebecca Howe in Cheers

Why did you agree to do this show?

I wanted to get involved in it because we had just had a death in our family and the person that passed away was a risk taker and a daredevil. I wanted to carry on his legacy. I also felt that I had become a little less adventurous in my life, taking the same kind of roles, and I just thought I needed to something adventurous. I didn’t know I was going to be a servant all the time, I thought I was going to be Maid Marian, how wrong was I?!

How did you cope, being bossed around in every era?

I really didn’t cope very well. If I really was a servant in any of those eras I totally would have just run off to the nearest town and become a barmaid or a hooker. I kept saying ‘I would not do this, I would go to town and be a hooker’.

Would you do it again?

Hell no! Well maybe if we could Time Crash into periods where I could be royalty all the time – that probably wouldn’t be fun to watch but it would be fun for me.

Louise Minchin, 46

Famous for: Co-hosting BBC1’s Breakfast

Were you a bit of a rebel while you were doing this show?

Maybe I am a bit. I like to question things and stand up for myself, and if I find something that’s unfair, I find it difficult not to argue. I don’t think any of my colleagues, or my family, would be surprised by that.

What was it like washing clothes with urine?

It was disgusting, it stank, and you had to get your hands into it – you didn’t have gloves on or anything, it’s not like they had Marigolds in those days! So your hands are in the urine, scrubbing the nightgowns to get them clean, and then you are meant to dry them on bushes.

Why did you sign up to this show?

I thought it would be really fascinating. I am not a historian but I do my job because I am interested in stories, and I wanted to experience first-hand what history was really like and how tough things were compared to life in the 21st century.

Zoe Smith, 21

Famous for: Winning gold in the Women’s 58kg weightlifting at the 2014 Commonwealth Games

What was your worst moment?

I think it was just being presented with the bucket of two dead pheasants. Not ideal.

And your best moment?

I think the best moment was at the very end when we had the burning man festival, and we were all stood there, the whole team, it was a kind of reflective time, thinking how far we’d come… it’s something that will stay with me forever.

Has this made you realise how good we’ve got it in the 21st century?

Oh, entirely, yes! I think I’d have died, to be honest. Obviously it’s what you’re used to, so if you were born in the Edwardian period, and plucking pheasants because you were young and poor, it was a fact of life, I guess you would’ve got on with it. I guess it’s the equivalent of doing a crappy commute or something now – it’s really quite unpleasant but hey, you just get on with it

Meg Mathews, 49

Famous for: being the former Mrs Noel Gallagher

Were there moments when you thought ‘what am I doing?’

The truth is, you know you’re going home in two weeks – it would be a different matter if I was living on the streets. That said, when I first moved to London, I lived on the streets for two years when I was 17/18. I lived in squats in Brixton; I slept in cars, so I know that I’m never going to go back to anything like that. We are lucky, and I am so grateful that I know that I’m going back home.

How did you feel about the outfits?

The corsets killed me, you can’t move in them. The material is rough, the corset is rough, and the shoes aren’t built for any comfort whatsoever. Those corsets weren’t like lovely, lacy, sexy numbers, they were very authentic, original bras that were so uncomfortable – thick, starched cotton, nothing sexy about them!

Which celebrities would you choose to do it next time?

Me! I would do it again! I wish they did it around the world. That would be amazing. Who would I pick? How about Gazza, Eamonn Holmes and Holly Willoughby. And Lorraine!

Keith Allen, 61

Famous for: His acting and musical careers, as well as his kids, Lily and Alfie.

Were you shocked at how badly servants were treated?

Yes! It was just the formality of it all, the format of their lives and the categorisation of what they did. But then people seemed to like that because it was like being institutionalised, some people find comfort in that. There is comfort in that for me because once you have recognised what the institution is you can go about undermining it, which is fun!

If you had to pick an era to live in, which would it be?

I quite liked being in medieval times and being an equerry looking after the horses because it meant you could rise above your station. You could work towards becoming a knight. I think any time where you were given the opportunity to improve your lot was worth it.

If there was a second series would you be up for it?

Knowing what I know now, probably! I did suggest that they should do another series of Time Crashers through the empire so at least you would get out to Jamaica, Australia, or South Africa as opposed to the f***ing Pembrokeshire coast!

Greg Rutherford, 28

Famous for: Winning long jump gold at the 2012 Olympics, 2014 European Championships, and 2014 Commonwealth Games

Was the show harder than you thought it would be?

Yeah, you can watch it on TV and have preconceived notions of how tough it’s going to be, but until you actually do it you genuinely have no idea. It was incredibly hard, it wasn’t like we shot for a couple of hours and then went for a break; it was intensive the whole way through. We lived exactly the way people in those eras would have done.

Why did you want to do this show?

My favourite subject at school was history and it’s still a part of my life which I’m keen to learn about. I’m a massive geek at heart, so when this opportunity came up it was exactly the type of thing I knew I would love to have a go at. It was right up my street and a bit of a no-brainer to be honest with you.

Charlie Condou, 42

Famous for: Playing Marcus Dent in Coronation Street

Why did you want to do the show?

I’ve said no to a  lot of reality TV stuff, but this felt more to me like a documentary in the sense that it was genuinely much more about the period in history that we were going into, about you people lived and about how we lived in that time, though I didn’t realise quite how hard it was going to be.

Has the experience made you take a step back from it all?

Yes definitely. I’m not as bad as I was, and it’s not the end of the world when your battery dies, and you’re on the tube and you’re like, ‘Oh my God! How am I going to play Candy Crush now?’ – but it isn’t as bad as all that, so yes I am much better…

Why should people watch Time Crashers?

I think it’s really interesting, not necessarily seeing how a bunch of celebrities deal with different periods of time, but just to see how it was and how things have changed so much. It doesn’t feel like one of those celebrity shows; well, not for me anyway. I think it will be fascinating for people watch and see how times have changed.

Jermaine Jenas, 32

Famous for: Playing football, including for Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, and QPR

Was the show a big test for you, seeing as you’ve only ever been involved in football?

I was massively out of my comfort zone. That was one of the reasons I wanted to do the show and why I was attracted to it.

Would you say the experience has changed you in any way?

I think it’s given me more confidence. I have kind of drifted into this world of television after years in sport, so constantly being on film, dealing with weird situations in an uncomfortable environment, dressed like an idiot, but I did it! Also, the relationships I managed to build on the show with people I had never met, that has boosted confidence. I just can’t believe that I almost passed up the opportunity to do it because I thought it was too far out of my comfort zone.

Presenter: Tony Robinson

Famous for: Presenting documentaries like Time Team, and playing Baldrick in Blackadder

 Resident Historian: Cassie Newland

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Famous for: Being a historical archeologist, and appearing on shows including Coast, Time Team, and The Genius of Inventions

Time Crashers starts on Channel 4 on Sunday 23rd August at 8pm

Louise Minchin on skinning a deer and washing with urine in Time Crashers