The former health minister said his physical and mental resilience was tested “to its limits almost every minute of every day” during his time on the reality series.
Ahead of the forthcoming series’s release on Tuesday (26 September), Hancock, 44, revealed he came close to quitting the programme after “having my rib broken” during the jungle phase of SAS selection in Thung Ui, north Vietnam.
He said: “I was determined to keep going so I just kept my mouth shut so I wasn’t medically discharged.”
Hancock, who will appear alongside 15 other recruits on the Channel 4 show, previously said he wanted to push his limits after emerging from a “challenging period as health secretary during the pandemic”.
He was health secretary for almost three years but resigned in June 2021 after it emerged he had broken his own Covid-19 guidance by kissing and embracing aide Gina Coladangelo in his office.
The MP for West Suffolk, who has been a fan of the SAS series “for years”, said he was in “pretty good shape” ahead of the show having completed a 100-mile walk of Mont Blanc and an “intensive fitness programme”.
But he said: “Being on SAS was like nothing else… it’s one of the toughest physical things I’ve ever done and it really opens your eyes and makes you really look into yourself.”
Hancock said he had dealt with antagonistic UK media during his career but the SAS directing staff “pushed my buttons, especially early on”.
“They push your buttons to get the rise, and then they show you the consequence of that and so you learn not to,” he said.
“It’s part of the training, and actually it’s a really important lesson in life in not rising to somebody when they have a go. I didn’t feel like I struggled with it.
“I don’t know if that comes over, but I don’t suffer fools gladly. They are definitely not fools and I had respect for what they were doing.”
The politician also reflected on being paired with ex-footballer Jermaine Pennant for a challenge that sees two opponents punch each other in the head without evasion until they’re told to stop.
Hancock lost the Tory whip over his appearance on I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!. He described the reality programmes as “very different” but “both tested my resilience”.
He said: “There wasn’t a lot to do in the Australian jungle, so I was always looking forward to the tasks.
“The opposite was true on SAS where your physical and mental resilience was tested to its limits almost every minute of every day. Sitting down was a luxury.”
Additional reporting from the Press Association