Jay McGuiness: 'Celebrity Hunted was more intense than Strictly!'

Jay McGuiness Celebrity Hunted
(Image credit: Colin Hutton)

Jay McGuiness battled with nerves on 2015's Strictly and things are getting scary once more for the former Wanted star, as he takes part in C4's Celebrity Hunted. Jay reveals all about going on the run... and what he REALLY thinks of this year's Strictly line-up

Former Strictly champ Jay McGuiness talks to What's on TV about being a Wanted man as he goes on the run for charity…

Why did you want to take part in Celebrity Hunted?

"I just love the show. I think it's so exciting to watch. I don't really like stressful TV but this has got an adventure vibe to it, which I like. And then when I knew it would be one or two people, I just knew I had to do it with someone from The Wanted and Siva was available and I knew we'd have fun. It was great having my partner in crime with me."

Jay McGuiness and Siva Kaneswaran

Jay and former bandmate Siva Kaneswaran get ready to run... but can they avoid being captured by the 'hunters'?

The show sees you and Siva going on the run across the UK, all the while trying to avoid being captured by a team of 'hunters' made up of ex-police and army personnel. Did anyone help you try and stay 'under the radar'?

"We start off with a lot of help from our old team, our tour manager and our keyboard player and then we go and explore the Scottish Highlands. At times it felt like we were walking around with a giant bullseye on our heads drawing the hunters to where we were. But I think we got through it with the help of some really cool people we met."

Like who?

"We met some really awesome people. There were five-year-old girls giving us advice and 72-year-old men who would put us up in their back garden in a tent or spare bedrooms, or point us down a fishing trail that no one else knew about. We got lucky a few times."

Didn't you also have help from fans of The Wanted?

"Yes we did! Our fans are the best; they’ll go above and beyond and they're so much smarter than us. We made lots of mistakes while we were on the run but our fans certainly helped us out of a few pickles."

Celebrity Hunted gang

Celebrity Hunted gang (L-R): Steph and Dom Parker, Anneka Rice, Siva Kaneswaran, Jay McGuiness, Spencer Matthews and Jamie Laing

Did you ever worry your fans might get a bit over-excited and give away your whereabouts on social media?

"No, I reckon they'd be devastated if they knew they'd blown our cover. Back in The Wanted days, our fans would get into hotel rooms and they knew what flights we were on and everything. When they told us how they used to find out where we were I was gobsmacked. There would be a network of teenage girls coordinating a chase to find us, so having them on our side on this show was epic. I understand the thrill of fandom now!"

Did you have to resort to wearing disguises to try and remain undetected?

"Yes. I ended up wearing a grey beard, which started off pretty convincing but got steadily worse as time went on. It's easier for me to go unnoticed as there are millions of average-looking white guys who look like me, whereas Siva looks like an Egyptian Prince!"

Although it's a TV programme, did you ever feel genuinely scared about being 'Hunted'?

"We tried to keep away from any crowded places. I think we walked through a town once and my legs were shaking. It was really scary. If Strictly and Hunted were on TV for the same length of time, Hunted would absolutely be more intense. I'd say 90 per cent of this show was pure enjoyment, the other 10 per cent was sheer terror!"

Jay and Siva on the run

Jay and Siva know they need to keep moving if they're to avoid being caught

Speaking of Strictly, what do you make of this year's line-up?

"I think Aston's great and I reckon he's gonna get better. I think Mollie King is so endearing; hopefully people will warm to her and support her all the way. Then, on the professional side, I really want Oti to do well. She did so well last year getting to the final [with Hollyoaks' actor Danny Mac]. She's such a good dancer."

As Strictly's 2015 champ, what advice would you give the Class of 2017?

"Oh, I could sit down with them for an hour and say 'do this' or 'don’t do that'. But I would say the main thing is just follow your heart. I think it's tempting sometimes to put on a face where you're like: 'Oh, this was a great rehearsal' even if it wasn't, because you want to be positive. Instead, I'd say, just go out there and be like: 'I had a really tough week this week and now I'm gonna do my best' and then people can see reality. The attractive bit of reality shows is the real stuff. So I think follow your heart and just be as real as you can."

Strictly 2015 winners Jay and Aliona

Jay lifting the glitterball trophy with his professional partner Aliona Vilani

Why are celebs always so keen to sign up for Strictly do you think?

“Well, you definitely get a skill out of it and also Strictly doesn't knock anyone down; they try and build everyone's confidence up. Everyone that comes off that show always says: 'I had such a great experience' and I think it's just a positive show. It's not like the Big Brother house, where they try and create tension; Strictly just wants to entertain people. I loved doing Strictly 100 per cent. I thought it was brilliant."

You're still dancing aren't you? You're on tour at the moment in Rip it Up…

"Yeah, I've done nearly 20 shows and it's with Strictly pro Natalie Lowe and 2012 champ Louis Smith. It's just a roaring show. We've got a live band and they absolutely smash it. Strictly nudged me into doing theatre and I've really enjoyed that."

jay and aliona jive

Jay and Aliona's Pulp Fiction-inspired jive was a huge hit with Strictly fans

So you must have a whole new fanbase now?

"Yeah, it's really opened it up. I used to avoid going anywhere on bank holidays and weekends because there'd be loads of teenagers around and I'd get lynched in a shopping mall. I used to love a quiet pub lunch on a Tuesday afternoon, but now the old dears come up and they're like: 'Ooh, I loved your waltz'. But I love it – mainly because there's less screaming, it's more cuddles and conversation now."

Finally, Celebrity Hunted is in aid of C4’s Stand Up to Cancer – why is it a cause that's close to your heart?

"All the people we met that helped us on this show were either suffering from cancer or had somebody in their family who had passed away from the disease. We met an eight-year-old girl who had cancer; kids can be so cruel and she was obviously 'different' at school for very heartbreaking reasons. People in my own family have passed away from cancer. It's 2017 but cancer is something that can haunt everyone's life whether you live on a council estate or you’re royalty. There's nothing you can do really, there's steps you can take to stay healthy but there's no guarantee you'll never get cancer. It would be nice if we had one."

Celebrity Hunted starts on Tuesday October 10 at 9.15pm on Channel 4.

Victoria Wilson
Feature Writer for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and WhatToWatch.com

With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for WhatToWatch.com, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!