'I'm looking forward to being the most able bodied person for a change' | Chris McCausland on Channel 4's Afraid Of The Dark © Channel 4

'I'm looking forward to being the most able bodied person for a change'

Chris McCausland on Channel 4's Afraid Of The Dark

Comedian Chris McCausland is taking part in the new Channel 4 reality show Scared Of The Dark, in which eight celebrities are sent to live in a bunker designed to block out any light.  Over five successive nights, 50 infra-red cameras will follow the contestants as they get to grips with living in pitch blackness. Below, McCausland talks about whether his blindness will prove an advantage, and here’s the first couple of minutes in which host Danny Dyer sets up the premise:

Chris McCasuland interview

Why did you want to be involved in Scared Of The Dark?

Do you know what? It sounds interesting. I think in a way, I am, I suppose, maybe the control group in this experiment, but still susceptible to a lot of the same issues as everybody else socially in terms of deprivation.

I'm blind but I don't see black. I still see light and space, I still have an awareness of the space around me, not in terms of objects and things, but in terms of the room and whether there might be something in front of me.

It just gives you that awareness that you're taking that away from me. I'm a slave to my iPhone like everybody else. So on paper you go, ‘Well, I should nail this’. In one area I should be more practically adjusted.

It'll be quite interesting to see how quickly everybody else gets to that point. I'm quite looking forward to being the most able bodied person for a while. It doesn't happen often.

Can you explain your condition, because you weren't born blind, were you?

No. I mean this is really boring, but retinitis pigmentosa is the thing I have, RP, it's called. It's hereditary so I was born with it. It's genetic.

So basically I was born with a genetic condition and my eyesight deteriorated, I would say, at a steady rate. At such a slow rate that you never notice it going, but you look back and you realise that three years ago you could maybe do stuff that you can't do now.

I used to be able to see, all through my childhood, to the point where I had a normal childhood, except I couldn't see the blackboard in school and was crap at hide and seek.

But Liverpool in the 1980s was very much: get out of the house after breakfast and don't come back until your mum shouts you in the street for your tea.

People go, ‘Well, when did you go blind?’ And it's very hard to say because when your eyesight deteriorates steadily, you stop being able to do different things at different stages. So you stop being able to see in the dark, or seeing dusk, or see your computer screen, or read a printed book, all of these different things happen at different times.

But I kind of say late teens to early twenties, that kind of five year period from maybe 16 to 21 is when the bulk of the useful stuff just went.

How did that impact you?

It's difficult when you're losing your sight so subtly. There's never a moment you've got to deal with. So if somebody has an accident and the next day they're disabled, they've got a huge moment of trauma and they've got to come to terms with that.

But when you're losing your sight noticeably slowly, it's just kind of a constant phase of frustration and denial really. And you don't realise that you can't do things until maybe something happens that you realise, ‘Oh, maybe I shouldn't do that any more.’

The last time I played football, I put myself in hospital and I thought, ‘Well, that's my football days done.’ But each of these things happen separately. And when you grew up with a very normal childhood and you're in your early twenties, you want to be cool or trendy.

So there's a huge refusal to get on board with the whole blind thing, I think. You know, like using a stick. I was never comfortable with it. I think as a result I'm still not comfortable with it. I'm still not good at it.

I think I'm not comfortable with it now because I haven't got the confidence because I was so resistant to it through my twenties that I've never really got massively on board with it all. But luckily we’ve got Uber now!

How are you feeling about being locked in a bunker with a load of people that you've never met before?

Do you know what? I love doing TV shows. The good thing about the TV shows I've been doing is I'm used to working on the live comedy circuit and just working with a hell of a lot of stand-ups. And when you do your tour, it's very isolating as well.

But when you're doing TV you end up working with people from all kinds of different entertainment, or sporting backgrounds, and music, and stuff like that.

I've been doing stand-up for nearly 20 years and the last few years have been really, really exciting to work with people who are musicians and actors.

But the other thing about doing these shows is you're just in and out. You turn up, you do your few hours, you have a drink afterwards, and you go home. And then that's kind of it until maybe randomly you see them again.

So this feels like it's going to offer something that I don't normally get. I don't know who's going to be in it, but I'm just hoping there's going to be some people from the 80s or the 90s that I know.

[After McCausland gave this interview it was revealed that the other contestants were boxers Nicola Adams and Chris Eubank, former footballer Paul Gascoigne, singer Max George,  TV personality Scarlett Moffatt, reality star Chloe Burrows and actress Donna Preston]

Any type of celebrity you hope won’t be in there?

I don't know. I've never watched reality TV so I don't know anyone. I think I only know one person off reality TV because I've done something with them. I hope there's somebody like a rocker, old school. I'd like to be mates with Jason Donovan. That would be so cool, wouldn't it?

What do you think you're going to bring to the group?

I think everyone will be funny. I think everyone will bring comedy. This is the problem with comedy, isn't it, is that everybody's got it. I do something that everybody's kind of got inside them anyway.

Not everybody's got musical ability in them or sporting ability. But everybody I'm sure will be funny. I'd like to get on with people. I'm quite laid-back, I'd like to think so anyway. So I hope I'll bring a little bit of humour and calmness to everybody else's frantic terror.

Do you think we’re going to see a few mishaps of people touching things they shouldn’t?

Yeah, well I've gone to shake hands with plenty of people and poked them on the wrong bits!

You're going to be filmed 24/7, have you got any Bad Habits that are going to come out?

Apparently I eat in my sleep. I'm not looking forward to that being televised. Not physically. I mean, I'm not at the fridge. I kind of lie in bed and I think I'm sucking on a Werther's Original or something like that.

The thing is, I hate social media. I do it from duress from my agent.  But I hate that kind of opening your whole life to the world. With this you are  revealing maybe bits of you that you would normally keep away from the cameras. Did he just pick his nose and eat it?

You’re going to be doing challenges in there, do you think you'll get competitive?

I don't know whether we're working as a team, whether we're working against each other, whether it's kind of like the Hunger Games and I've got to survive, I have no idea.

So if we're meant to be working as a team, I hope it works. I'm used to working on my own, aren't I? I'd like to think I'm a really good team player. But the truth of the matter is, there's not a lot of evidence to suggest that.

Would you consider yourself a prankster?

Yeah. I reckon. It's a little bit of the Blitz spirit thing, isn't it? You take the piss, and you play pranks and take the piss out of people that you get on with and like, don't you? So I suppose if we're all doing that, that's a good sign, isn't it?

Do you like being famous and in the spotlight?

I enjoy doing TV shows. I can't bear to watch myself on them, but I enjoy doing them. And I enjoy that opportunity to be on things, and have these different experiences, and build my profile through these opportunities. I love that aspect of it. But outside of that, I kind of quite like to wear a hat and keep my head down.

What's the best bit of advice you've been given about coping with being famous?

God, do you know what? Best piece of advice I've been given is to be nice to people because it's a privilege to have them know who you are, really. Saying that though, if you put a hat on and keep your head down, they might not even notice you're there.

• Scared of the Dark stars on Channel 4 at 9pm on Sun and will run for five nights across the week. Here's a trailer...

Interview courtesy of Channel 4 Press

Published: 11 Apr 2023

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