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Duncan James on 'The Celebrity Circle' — 'It messes with your mind!'

Duncan James in Celebrity Circe
Duncan James in The Celebrity Circle. (Image credit: C4)

Singer, actor and entertainer, Duncan James is one of twelve famous faces taking part in a celebrity version of Channel 4 reality show, The Circle, where there will be plenty of fun, fakery and some serious mind games.

The six-part celebrity special, which is raising funds for Stand Up To Cancer, sees the celebs, including Denise van Outen, drag artist, Baga Chipz , Radio 1 presenter Melvin Odoom and Loose Women duo Nadia Sawalha and Kaye Adams, live in complete isolation in a London apartment block and communicate with one another only via messaging as they compete to be named most popular player. But while some will play as themselves, others will "catfish" and adopt a fake persona.

"None of us have any clue who else is in the show beforehand, who is real and who is pretending to be someone else. It’s the weirdest thing ever to be part of. It totally messes with your mind!"  says Duncan who shot to fame as one quarter of successful boy band, Blue.

Here Duncan James tells us why he wanted to be part of the show, what he was most nervous about and how he's been keeping busy in lockdown...

What made you want to do The Circle?

Duncan James: "I wanted to make myself useful! I was busy touring with The Rocky Horror Show before lockdown and I’ve felt so useless being stuck at home all these months. I have to say, I absolutely loved the experience and knowing it was for a good cause made it all worthwhile. Everything is about Covid right now but people are still getting cancer every day."

Have you had experiences of cancer with friends and family?

The celebrity line up for The Celebrity Circle 2021

Duncan James is among twelve celebs taking part in The Celebrity Circle for Stand Up To Cancer.  (Image credit: Channel 4 )

DJ: "One of my best friends, Nina, lost her sister. I remember going with Nina to the hospital when her sister, who was in her 30s, had just been told she had inoperable cancer. Three months later she was dead. It was so awful and made me see just how quick and devastating cancer can be."

What were your preconceptions of the The Circle and were you nervous beforehand?

DJ: "I’d watched it before and the thing I was most worried about was having no phone, no TV and the isolation. I thought, ‘Am I going to go completely out of my mind?’ It’s the perfect show to be made during lockdown because everyone is stuck in their own little rooms. Thankfully there were lots of activities and challenges to keep us busy and I enjoyed doing a lot of cooking."


Nadia Sawalha and Kaye Adams in The Celebrity Circle.

Loose Women duo Kaye Adams and Nadia Sawalha. (Image credit: Channel 4 )

Did you have a game plan and could you tell who was 'catfishing'?

"I decided to play as myself but you have no idea who is faking. I’ve known Denise (van Outen) for years and when she referred to me as ‘Dunc’  I was pretty sure it was really her but you start analysing and questioning every single tiny piece of communication. It’s the strangest show to be a part of. For all I knew there could have been another member of Blue living next door to me!"


Baga Chipz in The Celebrity Circle

Drag artist Baga Chipz pretends to be TV personality, Kim Woodburn, inside the Celebrity Circle.  (Image credit: Channel 4 )

Was there a lot of flirting via the messaging?   

DJ: "I told my boyfriend, Rodrigo, beforehand that I would put my status as ‘Single’ so  I could be flirty to try and get information about the other celebrities. I don’t want to give too much away but there was one celebrity in there who was a catfish and whose alter-ego was incredibly flirty. When I found out their true identity at the end of the show I was like, ‘Oh My God!’ I was amazed!"


How have you been finding lockdown?

DJ: "I’ve been living back at my mum’s in Surrey since last March because I didn’t want her to be on her own. It’s been lovely but you know I’m, 42!  I like my independence so it’s been challenging too. I’ve worked my way through every box set on Netflix and I’m addicted to Married At First Sight: Australia."


Denise Van Outen in The Celebrity Circle

Actor and entertainer, Denise van Outen plays as herself.  (Image credit: Channel 4 )

You starred in Hollyoaks for two years. Would you ever fancy doing more soap in the future?

DJ: "I loved Hollyoaks, it was a great learning experience, plus I got to live in Liverpool and experience a whole new city. With soaps you become part of a big family and in that respect I would love to do another one. But I just don’t know, I really enjoy musical theatre and singing too. It’s Blue’s 20th anniversary this year and we had plans to celebrate with a tour but Covid has scuppered all of that. Until we get some normality back, who knows what I’ll be doing!"

The Celebrity Circle for Stand Up To Cancer starts on Tuesday March 9 at 9.15pm on Channel 4