Tom Parker may have skied his way to third place on this year’s series of The Jump, but the singer has revealed he initially turned down the Channel 4 show because he was nervous of public criticism.
“I got offered to do the show and I said no originally,” the former The Wanted band mate told RadioTimes.com just days after arriving home “in one piece” from the series’ Austrian base.
“I wasn’t really keen on doing that kind of platform TV,” Parker explained. “I kind of talked myself out of it. The reality TV stuff is a completely different thing to the music industry. I think it was fear of that public interest, that room for criticism from people. The spotlight’s really on you because you’re on TV. It was fear more than anything.”
But Parker said he’s really glad he (quite literally) took a leap of faith, going back to show bosses at the end of last year to bag the final reserve space. This, as a result of numerous injuries among the other competitors, quickly turned into a full-time slot.
“I was surprised. I thought people would be a bit more judgmental maybe. I don’t know why I thought that. People were really supportive, which was good. I’m glad I got the opportunity to do it.”
Scooping the bronze medal (or should that be bronze cowbell?) behind Superman star Dean Cain and champion and former rugby pro Ben Cohen, Parker admitted it’s given him the bug to do more reality TV.
“I was a bit on the fence about it. Then I got to meet twelve amazing celebrities that I probably never would have got to meet, and I got to learn a new skill for seven weeks, so it really has changed my mind.”
Does a stint on Strictly Come Dancing beckon? His former band mate Jay McGuiness is the reigning champ after all.
“The sequins probably not. I’m literally awful at dancing,” Parker laughed. “I’ve had the meeting before and as much as I’d enjoy the show, I want to go into something knowing that I’d probably be alright at it. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to being good at things.
“My girlfriend is a dancer and she was just like: ‘You should never do that show, ever. You’ve literally got two left feet, you can’t teach you in that amount of time,’” Parker revealed. “The jungle maybe… the jungle would be a really good experience as well actually. Who knows? If the right thing comes up then I think I’ll be a lot more open going forward.”
Although he’s certainly not open minded about eating bugs.
“I’ve got a really sensitive gag reflex,” Parker joked. “It sounds weird but I really have. That could get in the way, but I think it would probably make funny TV. Me being sick on live TV – that’d be hilarious!”
The Jump itself came under increased criticism this year due to the number of injuries among the cast, the most worrisome that of former Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle, who needed surgery to fuse fractured vertebrae in her neck after a fall in training. A review of safety procedures was ordered just two weeks in, “in light of the number of injuries this year”.
But Parker would like to see the Davina McCall-fronted show return for a fourth outing.
“I think the criticism can be justified this series because so many people got injured. I understand why people were concerned about it: people were dropping like flies at one point. But on the other hand, I can only go off of my experience and my experience was happy and joyous and I was really looked after by literally everyone on the show.
“I don’t actually think the show did anything wrong,” Parker added. “It is a dangerous show. When you sign up for it, you know what you’re signing up for. You’re skiing and you’re chucking yourself sixty feet down a jump. But I think we all got the appropriate training. We started on a little tiny baby jump and literally worked our way up to it.
“I really, really hope it does [come back]. I loved the show and had such a great experience and met a lot of good people.”
As for recording, Parker’s been back in his studio producing as well as working on his own music. The Wanted have been on “pause” for around two years now and he insists everyone’s happy doing their own thing.
“When you’re in a band for five years shit just gets real tough. Same with the One Direction thing. They could have probably gone on for another ten years if they’d wanted to. They were that big. But when you live in each other’s pockets for five years non-stop, there’s only so much and then you go ‘Do you know what? I just need some time on my own.’
“I do genuinely think it was the right time to say let’s just put a pause on this and do our own thing. It genuinely is a pause. We all do genuinely get on. But I’ve said before, when you leave a band and do your own things as individuals, everyone wants to see where they fit within the industry. I spoke to Max [George] yesterday. We speak as much as friends probably speak. I’d probably like to speak a little bit more.”
In fact, Parker sounds like he’s having a bit of a ‘yes man’ year, and isn’t planning on focusing on just one thing.
“I said at the beginning of the year that I’d like to experience different things, whether it was presenting or theatre, or things I’ve never thought about before. I want to expand my mind and try a few different things, so I’m a bit of an open book at the moment.”