IT'S THE OTHE REDKNAPP!
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
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