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TV Interview

Incredible Mr Goodwin: 'Life or death makes people sit up and listen'

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It's not everyday that I end an interview by watching the interviewee munching on a smashed-up lightbulb. But Jonathan Goodwin, the star of Watch's new daredevil TV series, isn't an ordinary man. He's brave, incredibly skilled and also possibly slightly crazy.

On his new TV show The Incredible Mr Goodwin, Jonathan will perform stunts that include putting a live scorpion in his mouth while handcuffed, testing his reflexes on a bear trap that would snap off his arm, dangling off buildings with only two fingers and hanging off a helicopter by only his toes. So you probably see what we mean by "slightly crazy".

The Incredible Mr. Goodwin

© Watch / Steven Neaves

The Incredible Mr. Goodwin



"I've never really had a proper job. I started when I was seven. It's been part of my life for a very long time," says Goodwin.

"My dad gifted me a book about Harry Houdini when I was seven and I just become obsessed. I was fascinated by it. I guess like any 7-year old who loves the character of a superhero - but what particularly appealed to me was that he was real and he didn't wear his underpants outside of his trousers."

Goodwin started his first stunts on a family canal barge holiday when he asked his dad to tie him up with a rope. "Sometimes I would get out and sometimes I wouldn't," he laughs.

"And then I started taking locks apart and holding my breath in the bath, little things like that."

Other than Houdini, Goodwin lists movie stars Buster Keaton and Douglas Fairbanks as his idols ("They were doing extraordinary things long before health and safety was even a term") and has used a movie stunt for the climax of his show's first episode.

Mimicking a John Wayne movie stagecoach stunt, Goodwin climbs all the way around and underneath the outside of a speeding car.

"Except instead of front to back which would be easiest, we went sideways. It's quicker, but much more dangerous. That was very, very intense," he admits.

Watch an exclusive clip of The Incredible Mr Goodwin:



Obviously having such a bizarre job doesn't come without some problems, namely insurance and getting his stunts through endless red tape.

"Harry Houdini would never have got through health and safety," he jokes. "It's a fight everyday. Every single stunt went through a huge amount of process.

"There were very many things we did that we couldn't get insurance for so we couldn't do it. It's a bit of a tussle."

He adds: "I did once try get personal life insurance to cover my work and they just laughed at me on the phone."

And things do go wrong for Goodwin. During filming for the series he suffered a shallow water black-out while tied up in a canal lock being filled with water.

"It's more scary actually for people who are watching it - if you black out underwater you don't really know about it," he said.

"But I've seen the footage and it's pretty grim. I feel pretty sorry for the person who tied me up. I knew that one was going bad pretty quickly."

Watch the trailer for The Incredible Mr Goodwin:



Goodwin takes his art incredibly seriously and probably wouldn't be here today if he didn't, but that doesn't mean he lacks a sense of humour.

Joking about what superpower he would most love, he teased: "I'm a big fan of schadenfreude. I would like the ability to make people fall over without touching them.

"You know how occasionally you'll see some idiot walking down the street riding a bike without holding onto the handlebars? Sometimes you just want to see them stack it. It's a really random superpower, but I would use it wisely."

Daredevil Jonathan Goodwin attempts to escape from his blazing straitjacket as he hung high in the air from the EDF Energy London Eye.

© PA Images / David Parry/PA Wire

Jonathan Goodwin's London eye straitjacket junt



His sense of humour and his ability to relate to viewers makes him a different kettle of fish to rival daredevil David Blaine.

Commenting on the American illusionist, Goodwin argued: "When he stands on a pillar in Times Square or in some ice, most people don't know if that's hard or not. It's not relatable. I love creating moments of drama that people can understand.

"I liked his close-up magic better. When he moved into the endurance feats, for me he lost me a bit. But he's an amazing chap and he really throws himself into all his projects."

Analysing why people are fascinated by his act, he concludes: "Houdini said, 'People will come to see you die' and I don't think people have changed that much in 100 years.

"Entertainment has changed quite a lot, but life or death is something that will make people sit up and listen. It's my job to give them that."

The Incredible Mr Goodwin starts on Thursday, March 7 at 9pm on Watch.

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