Neil Morrissey, by his own admission, likes to be “fat and pissed”. His arrival on Bear Grylls: Mission Survive therefore feels a little bit like he’s been booted out of the pub at closing and this was the only place people were continuing the night. But that’s what makes him instantly likeable. He’s not signed up to the 12-day gruelling trek across South Africa thinking he’s the next top adventurer, he’s just going to give it a go: an ‘everyman’ we can all get behind.
He also rather amusingly equates the idea of winning with his Bob the Builder Number Ones. He knows full well everyone will be yelling, ‘Can Neil fix it? Yes he can…’ as they climb mountains, skin animals and – because this is a Bear Grylls show – drink their own pee.
Early on in tonight’s premiere Morrissey decided it would actually be far more appealing to be bitten by a snake and end up in a warm hospital. “I’m going to be looking for snakes today, saying ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough!’” he grinned. And with a hailstorm hitting them within minutes of setting off, followed by Grylls yelling at him for wearing the wrong jacket – “It was bloody raining and freezing, I would have put an old sack on!” – you can see why.
But for all his claims he’d rather be in the boozer, when push comes to shove Morrissey’s clearly got a survivor instinct in him: as Grylls himself describes it, an ability to be chirpy when things are grim. During a zip-lining challenge on tonight’s show, for example, Morrissey nearly snapped his finger off. But he laughed it off almost as though it was a paper cut. “First blood, as Bear would say,” he grinned. Although he did later admit he wished he hadn’t been so calm about it at the time.
“How stupid to say on camera that I’m not going to sue,” he laughed to RadioTimes.com “I should really sue! It’s still bloody sore. It’s discoloured and I know it’s there. That’s a forever reminder,” he added, squeezing it gently.
He does an excellent impression of Grylls, too. All puffed up chest and booming voice: “FIRST BLOOD!”
“I’m surprised Bear didn’t rub some on his forehead,” he laughed.
But for all his class clown antics, Morrissey clearly has victory in mind – and, if he can forget about the pain, would do it again.
“I suspect it’s a bit like childbirth: you don’t really like going through it but once it’s all over you lose the memory and probably would do it again. Yes it pushes you, and yes it was testing and tough but would I do it again? See, probably. I’m saying no, no, no, but if I had to I would.”
That’s a champion right there, right?
Bear Grylls: Mission Survive continues Thursdays on ITV