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TV Interview

Sam & Mark ('Total Wipeout: Celebrity Special')

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Sam & Mark ('Total Wipeout: Celebrity Special')

Rex Features

Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes first found fame in the second series of Pop Idol way back in 2003. The cheeky duo lost out to Michelle McManus in the finals, but they have gone on to have a successful career as children's TV presenters after abandoning the world of pop. Nixon and Rhodes are two of the celebrities taking part in the first ever celebrity edition of Total Wipeout. We caught with them to find out how they got on.

What made you want to get involved in celebrity Total Wipeout?
Mark: "It was just good fun. Going to Argentina was a big bribe. We've watched the series and always thought, 'I'd love to have a go at that'. So we're both really grateful we got that opportunity really."
Sam: "As Mark said, you watch it on the telly and it looks awesome. And it is all for charity so it's a good fun and a bit of a laugh really."

Did anyone get hurt?
Mark: "Yeah, there was a few hairy moments to say the least. I think there were 20 of us that went over for the two shows. And I'd imagine that around five or six of them have come back worse for wear. There were a few injuries. Me and Sam were quite fortunate with that - I don't think we were in there for long enough to do ourselves any damage."

Who is the most competitive out of you two?
Mark: "I think it is pretty easy to answer that one. It is me. I am probably the most competitive person in the world. Not just between and me Sam, I mean between me and everybody."
Sam: "We are both quite competitive, but Mark has that slight edge on me when it comes down to it."

Do you think it is possible to complete the big red balls segment of the show?
Sam: "We've seen it been done! When we were out there one of the production team showed us a clip on his camera of a guy who made it across all the balls. He literally just ran across at full pelt."
Mark: "I still reckon he had a wire attached to his back. Or there was some camera trickery involved. It is just so, so difficult."

Which celebrities would you like to see taking part next year?
Mark: "I'd like to see Chris Eubank on it. You know when they stand on the top and give a big talk about what they are going to do. I would love to hear him do that. Or the Queen!"
Sam: "I think Ricky Gervais should do it. That would be well good."
Mark: "Well there is your three. The Queen, Ricky Gervais and Chris Eubank. It doesn't get any better than that really. We should be booking these shows."

You guys found fame on Pop Idol. Do you still find it strange watching people go through that experience on The X Factor?
Mark: "Of course. It happened six years ago now, but it is still in the same studio, the Fountains Studios. It smells the same, feels the same and everything is still very similar to when we did it. When we spoke to all the contestants they were all so lovely, but there was so much pressure on them - I think we could relate to that."

Do you think The X Factor is less about the music and more about making good TV than Pop Idol?
Sam: "I think it has always been part of it. They are all Saturday night entertainment shows. You need an element of entertainment within them to keep them fresh. But you can't deny that the shows have found great singers like Will Young and Leona Lewis. You can't deny the show's power in the music industry. Everything in the Top 10 - Cheryl Cole, JLS, Alexandra - comes from the show."

John & Edward have been tipped to have TV careers like yourselves. Do you think they have got what it takes?
Sam: "I think so. I think the thing with John and Edward is that they've got to play to their strengths. Their strength would be a big combination of music and TV. Something like High School Musical, they would be brilliant. I see them more as actors than TV presenters. Something like S Club 7 used to do. Those series - I think kids would love that. Singing, dancing, acting, they would be brilliant at that."
Mark: "They are going to make a lot of money whatever they do. They will do very well for themselves."

Do you agree with me that they should bring back Pop Idol with Waterman, Chapman and Foxy?
Sam: "Awww! It would be nice, wouldn't it? I think Pop Idol was very different to what X Factor is now, but if you had them both it would dilute things too much. And then people would turn off. There would be a bit of overkill there I think. If X Factor wasn't about then it could, but we can always watch American Idol over here, which fills the gap a little bit for people who miss it."
Mark: "Yeah, I don't think it has gone completely out of people's minds, but some people do have very short memories. Me and Sam get people coming up to us and saying, 'Oh you are the guys off X Factor', which is quite funny."

Total Wipeout: Celebrity Specials air on Boxing Day at 6pm and January 2 at 7.15pm on BBC One.

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