win, son After Harry’s I’m A Celebrity trip spin-off of Jamie’s back with a road Their Own his hit show A League Of

Daily Mail Weekend Magazine - - CONTENTS - Kathryn Knight

Asate am cap­tain on sport­ing panel show A League Of Their

Own, Jamie Red­knapp has found him­self in some rum sit­u­a­tions. The show has run for 13 se­ries on

Sky and spawned two al­lac­tion US road trip spin-offs, which have seen Jamie team up with co­me­dian Romesh Ran­ganathan to sing a hit by pop star Stor­mzy live on stage, ap­pear on Broad­way in a per­for­mance of Aladdin and even frac­ture his wrist try­ing to break the world record for con­trol­ling a foot­ball dropped from the high­est al­ti­tude.

Ar­guably, even those pale in com­par­i­son to what he faces in the new se­ries, which sees Jamie on a Euro­pean road trip in which he com­petes in chal­lenges with ri­val team cap­tain An­drew ‘Fred­die’ Flintoff. They be­gin with a sail­ing race across the Eng­lish Chan­nel be­fore Jamie moves on to the next chal­lenge. Clad in teeny un­der­pants, a spray tan and lit­tle else, he had to per­form live at the Lido de Paris night­club. He ap­peared from un­der the over­sized dress of a cabaret dancer and writhed around be­fore pulling off a can- can! ‘I thought, “How on earth did I get here? I’m a foot­baller, now I’m ly­ing on the stage in the pitch black be­neath some­one’s skirt!”’ Jamie re­calls.

It’s just one of what the 45-year-old for­mer Liver­pool and Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur player calls ‘ sur­real mo­ments’ in the se­ries, presided over by James Corden, many of them fea­tur­ing celebrity guests. ‘I’ve played darts with An­thony Joshua, ab­seiled down a tower and sung Spice Girls songs with Geri Hal­li­well,’ he laughs.

To this we might also add hav­ing fake tan ap­plied to his up­per thighs along­side skimpily clad team­mates Alan Carr and for­mer crick­eter Kevin Pi­etersen – a pre­req­ui­site of their ap­pear­ance at Le Lido. ‘That was funny,’ Jamie laughs. ‘Nor­mally I’d be the one most out of my com­fort zone, but be­cause Kevin was there he was that guy. I don’t think Alan could be­lieve his eyes.’

The Red­knapps are a game bunch. Last month Jamie’s foot­ball man­ager fa­ther Harry emerged as the lat­est King of the Jun­gle on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity after charm­ing view­ers with his gen­tle­manly de­meanour. At 71 he’s the show’s old­est win­ner, but Jamie tried to talk his dad out of go­ing on the show at all. ‘When he told me, I tried to con­vince him it wasn’t a good idea,’ he grins. ‘But it’s been lovely. I was al­ways proud of him as he’s such a lovely guy, but I’m so pleased ev­ery­one else has seen that. You can’t hide in there so he just showed his true self.’ No doubt there were a few words after Harry pub­licly joked about set­ting up his son with In­be­tween­ers ac­tress and jun­gle run­ner- up Emily Atack, 29. The blonde had joked about Jamie on the show – at one point wink­ing at the cam­era and telling him to call her, some­thing to which Harry gave his bless­ing.

To­day Jamie laughs and says he took it all in good spir­its. ‘She’s a lovely girl and got on great with Dad,’ he says. ‘I’m very pri­vate so I’d never talk about re­la­tion­ships – I didn’t talk about my 19 years with Louise.’

Louise is for­mer Eter­nal singer Louise Nur­d­ing, Jamie’s for­mer wife and mother to their two sons Charley, 14, and ten-year-old Beau (named in trib­ute to Harry, who was born in Bow, east Lon­don). Their mar­riage ended in di­vorce last year but the cou­ple re­main am­i­ca­ble, with Louise – who’s shortly to star in new the­atre pro­duc­tion 9 To 5: The Mu­si­cal – call­ing him an ‘amaz­ing man’.

Fam­ily chat is off lim­its, but Jamie

‘I’ve had two ca­reers – I know how lucky I am’

says his chil­dren are fans of his on­screen an­tics. ‘Charley’s a bit, “Oh hon­estly, Dad!”’ he says. ‘When I go to his school to watch him play rugby, his mates want to talk to me about it.’

Like Jamie did with his own fa­ther, Charley tried to talk his dad out of do­ing A League Of Their Own. ‘I told him I’d been asked to do a com­edy show, a nd he sa id, “Don’t do it, you’re not funny.” So that was a nice vote of con­fi­dence,’ he laughs.

He feels he’s eased into the role. ‘For two or three se­ries I was a bit of a mute, then I re­alised it doesn’t mat­ter if you say some­thing stupid,’ he says. ‘I’m not a nat­u­ral co­me­dian but it’s one of those shows where if you get it wrong it’s funny, if you get it right it’s funny. It’s lib­er­at­ing. It’s made me more con­fi­dent do­ing foot­ball work. You show a dif­fer­ent side to your­self that seeps into other stuff.’

Part of the show’s pop­u­lar­ity is the com­pet­i­tive ban­ter be­tween Jamie and for­mer Eng­land crick­eter Fred­die Flintoff, all bull­doz­ing ‘can do’. ‘He’s a huge al­pha male,’ says Jamie. ‘ He’s fear­less. I think about things more, I’m the guy who doesn’t want to ab­seil with­out know­ing what’s what. But that’s why our re­la­tion­ship works. And the com­pet­i­tive bit is for real. I lost at ta­ble ten­nis last night and I can’t stop think­ing about it now.’

His joc­u­lar on-screen chem­istry with Fred­die is now an equally strong friend­ship. ‘He’s one of my best friends, but it didn’t hap­pen overnight,’ says Jamie. ‘He’s one of the soft­est, most car­ing guys you’ll meet, but you have to win him over. Once you crack his shell he’s as soft as you like. It took me about four se­ries to do so, but he’s one of my clos­est friends. I en­joy the din­ners we have off-cam­era as much as the day job.’

The show has led to other last­ing friend­ships. ‘Jack White­hall, who’s just left the show, is like a lit­tle brother. And James Corden is a to­tal gent. I speak to him often.’ Lit­tle won­der Jamie is so glad he ig­nored his son’s coun­sel and did the show. ‘ I’m as proud of it as any­thing else I’ve done,’ he says. ‘ I’ve had two ca­reers in a way. I worked all my life to be a footba l ler, then I’ve got an­other bril­liant job. So I know how lucky I am.’ A League Of Their Own: Euro­pean Road Trip, Thurs­day, 9pm, Sky One and NowTV. Episode one is avail­able on Sky On De­mand and NowTV.

Jamie with boxer An­thony Joshua and (right) as a boy with dad Harry

Jamie with his ex-wife Louise

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