AJ Pritchard says Strictly Come Dancing was harder than Celebrity SAS training
AJ Pritchard has said he feels Strictly Come Dancing is harder than Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins after becoming one of the contestants to pass the Channel 4 endurance show.
The 27-year-old professional dancer was announced as one of four contestants to have succeeded in completing the course during Sunday’s finale after surviving a host of gruelling challenges.
The series saw 14 celebrities put through military training exercises to test their physical and mental strength while battling the heat of the Jordanian desert.
Alongside Pritchard, EastEnders actress Maisie Smith, former The Only Way Is Essex star Ferne McCann and reality TV personality Calum Best also passed the course led by chief instructor Rudy Reyes.
Asked whether he found his time on Strictly, where he was a professional dancer for four series, or Celebrity SAS more challenging, Pritchard told the PA news agency: “It’s a really hard one.
“I think for me, SAS was so therapeutic and so beautiful and I feel like I achieved what I wanted.
“But Strictly itself, being a professional dancer you are a life coach, you are the driving force, you are the person that puts it all together and holds it together when it’s going wrong so mentally and physically, Strictly is a hell of a lot longer at six months.
“And probably if SAS was for six months it’d be hard but Strictly for being six months is harder than SAS. I have to be open and honest about that.
“You are a life coach through and through – therapist, taxi man, everything else that comes along with it.”
He added: “Emotionally when you’ve got somebody on a rollercoaster every single week being happy, sad, happy, sad – it’s hard to keep it up.”
Pritchard began the Celebrity SAS course alongside his brother and fellow professional dancer Curtis but he was eliminated in episode four.
He said that after his brother left he felt like he had to complete the course for the Pritchard name.
He said: “When Curtis left he obviously gave me a massive hug and he was like ‘You make sure you don’t stop for anything’ and that one sentence in itself was like ‘I’m behind you. You’ve got double energy now’.
“That sort of brotherly love and kind of commitment. I knew he was on my shoulder the whole way right to the end because that energy is unspoken but for it even to be said out loud is really emotional. I think that’s why I was so upset when he went.”
The series saw Pritchard open up about how his ex-girlfriend Abbie Quinnen suffered serious burns following a botched YouTube stunt.
During the interrogation sessions he was quizzed by former soldiers Billy Billingham and Jason Fox on the impact of the incident.
Reflecting on how Celebrity SAS had helped him, Pritchard told PA: “The reason why I went on the show was to deal with a situation of not being afraid to make decisions in a split second.
“And to actually be really open with Billy and Foxy there in that mirror room was so rewarding for me to actually watch it back.
“Because even if you go to therapy and you talk about a situation, or even if you talk to your friends and family, you talk about it.
“And watching it back and hearing myself talk and hearing the tremors in my voice and how raw it was and how open it was for me… it was really quite therapeutic to see that back.”
The original SAS: Who Dares Wins sees civilians put through military training exercises to test their physical and mental strength, and the celebrity spin-off launched in 2019.
This series also featured former footballer Ashley Cain, Love Island winner Amber Gill, Olympic sprinter Dwain Chambers, taekwondo Olympic gold medallist Jade Jones, boxer Shannon Courtenay, Paralympic high jumper Jonathan Broom-Edwards, Towie star Pete Wicks, Olympic javelin champion Fatima Whitbread and Brookside actress Jennifer Ellison.
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