Mike Tindall on his nose, his royal in-laws and The Jump

The former England captain and Zara Phillips' husband on why he's risking all for a reality TV show...

Quite understandably, he radiates distaste for the opinions of the newspapers. Of all this year’s Jump contestants, only Heather Mills, ex-wife of Sir Paul McCartney, appears to have a less charitable view of the fourth estate, telling anyone who’ll listen how “delighted” she is that journalists from Murdoch titles have been locked up after the phone-hacking scandal. 

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Tindall claims to ignore what he calls “the s**t” from the press, but admits: “It’s annoying that people assume that just because Zara works hard for her living and I worked hard for mine, we’re sweet and lovely. It’s not like that. Horses cost a lot of money, and what you read about her sponsorships is very far off the point.” So that £500,000 from Rolex? “Way off the mark.” 

He also blames the media for fanning the flames ignited by his antics at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, when he capped a raucous night out by being pictured smooching a woman who was not his new wife. He was in such an inebriated state that he later claimed to have no memory of the incident. He was eventually fined £15,000 by the Rugby Football Union, and never played for England again. Any regrets?

“No, not really. It’s easy to look back and say you wish it hadn’t happened. If you’d asked me do I regret going out and having a good time with the fans and all the boys – no. But obviously if I had known the spin-off from it all, I wouldn’t want that.” He adds: “Quite a big mountain was made out of a fairly small molehill.”

Despite his antipathy towards the media, joining its ranks is his goal. “The dream would be a contract with a sports TV network, doing rugby,” he says. “But that’s not easy to get. It’s a big year with the World Cup, and trying to get something through that, that’s where I’d like to see myself going.” He’s certainly got the most authentic rugby nose, I venture. “Definitely! So maybe it’s on radio that I’m destined to be.” 

The Jump begins on Sunday 1st February at 7pm on Channel 4, and continues Monday to Friday at 8pm

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Companion series The Jump: On the Piste begins on E4 on Monday at 7.30pm