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Matt Hancock says he felt ‘relief’ after being paired with Jermaine Clement in SAS: Who Dares Wins challenge

Former health secretary was paired with ex-footballer Jermaine Pennant for punch-up

Tom Murray
Monday 25 September 2023 20:00 BST
Matt Hancock punched in the face by ex-footballer on SAS: Who Dares Wins

Matt Hancock has revealed what went through his head when he was paired up with ex-footballer Jermaine Pennant for SAS: Who Dares Wins’s famous boxing challenge.

The former health secretary, 44, competes in the forthcoming fifth season of Channel 4’s Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, which airs on Tuesday (26 September).

In one segment, Hancock goes head-to-head with Pennant in a challenge that sees two opponents punch each other in the head without evasion until they’re told to stop.

“He’s a former England footballer and he’s no softy,” Hancock said of the former Liverpool FC winger, 40.

“At the same time, I was relieved that I wasn’t being paired with somebody even bigger. Or a woman. But I thought, this is a bad moment!”

He continued: “It didn’t hurt nearly as much as I expected actually, being smacked in the face. The bravery some people showed sticking at it, especially when there were unequal bouts. I remember [paralympic cyclist] Jon[-Allan Butterworth], absolutely ferocious. It was unbelievable watching him. That was absolutely incredible. What a guy!”

Contestants are given full protective headgear and gloves for the fighting challenge; however, they are often matched against multiple opponents.

Matt Hancock on ‘Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins’ (Channel 4)

Pennant previously spoke about unloading on the current MP for West Suffolk during a press launch for the new series.

“My first thought was, ‘Oh yes,’” he said, adding: “That was without a doubt the first thought. Then after that it was, ‘Do not lose’. It was imperative I won because I would not be allowed to walk the streets again if I didn’t. I was just very grateful that I won and I saved face.”

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Hancock was the UK health secretary during the Covid-19 pandemic and resigned in June 2021 after being caught on CCTV breaching his own social distancing guidelines while kissing his advisor Gina Coladangelo, with whom he was having an extra-marital affair.

The ex-politician filmed Celebrity SAS before taking part in ITV’s reality survival show I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, which aired last year. He declared in the MPs’ Register of Interests that he was paid £45,000 to appear on the Channel 4 show, while reports claimed that he was paid as much as £400,000 for his time in the jungle.

Hancock previously described his time on Celebrity SAS as “one of the toughest physical and mental things” he has ever done.

“It really opens your eyes and makes you look into yourself,” he said, adding: “After coming through the most challenging period as Health Secretary during the pandemic, I wanted to push my limits. It’s safe to say the course tested my resilience!”

Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins returns on Tuesday 26 September at 9.30pm on Channel 4, and continues on Sundays from 1 October at 9pm.

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