New Series - Celebrity Shark Bait

Four celebrities with an appetite for danger travel to South Africa for the challenge of their lives - to immerse themselves in the waters of Shark Alley - home to hordes of Great Whites.

In Celebrity Shark Bait, a one hour special for ITV1 celebrating the 30th anniversary of the film Jaws, the stars face their fears in an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience which leaves them hungry for more.

Richard E Grant, Amy Nuttall, Ruby Wax and Colin Jackson are lowered into one of the deadliest stretches of water on the planet to face the biggest shark of them all – the Great White – which can grow up to eight metres in length.

The sharks have no regard for famous faces – leaving the nervous celebrities to face the five day trip with a mixture of excitement, fear and dread!

Amy, who has never dived before, is determined to complete the challenge. Upon arriving in Cape Town she says: “I will face my fears. I am scared of sharks and the sea. I think it’s a really good opportunity. I want to be able to go back and say I’ve swum with sharks.”

Colin, who also has no diving experience, reveals: “I’m scared of water…I’m hoping I can control all my nerves and fears.”

Ruby, an experienced diver, says: “Because some of my experiences in life are heightened realities I have to keep upping the ante in a positive way…this will really up the ante!”

Richard, who has dived before, says swimming with sharks will fulfill a lifelong passion for him. He had a previous encounter as an eight-year-old while he was on holiday in Mozambique. While out on a motor boat with his family the engine cut out and as the evening, and darkness, drew in a shark began circling the boat.

He reveals: “We were all absolutely terrified we were going to be eaten.”

As well as facing a shark dive in a metal cage – like hundreds of tourists do in South Africa every year – the unwitting celebrities will also be guinea pigs for a new cage made out of Polycarbonate which has only been tested twice before.

The celebrities have several days to prepare for the task ahead. For Amy and Colin this includes learning how to dive and going into a deep freezer so they can experience the extreme temperatures they will face in the water.

The stars also meet three locals - retired fishermen who have had close encounters with sharks - who offer advice on surviving potential attacks and the celebrities start to realise the dangers which lie ahead.

And if that wasn’t enough to make the celebrities nervous, just three days before the scheduled dive a storm begins to gather momentum which could make the water too choppy.

With a small window of opportunity the schedule changes and the celebrities are suddenly told that they will have to do the dive. However once they get out to sea the conditions worsen and the celebrities decide not to take the risk.

The big day finally arrives, the waters are calm and there’s no escaping for a second time! Ruby is first up, despite protestations that she would prefer not to. She jokes: “I would like Amy to have her wish and go first and if they don’t eat her they won’t want any of us because she’s the freshest meat we’ve got.”

As she is lowered into the water in the cage she spots a shark. Screaming and breathing very quickly, a frightened Ruby shouts out:”There’s a shark oh my God oh my God…my feet are going to stick out of the cage.”

The other celebrities on the boat above look even more nervous as they can hear her screams.

She is hauled back onto the deck and tells them: “Did you hear my screams? It’s incredible. Nothing prepares you for when it goes by.”

An excited Richard then gets ready to go next telling them: “I can’t wait. I’ve been waiting for this all of my life.” He is then submerged in the cage and spots a shark. He says: “That is an absolutely beautiful thing.” Once on the boat he says: “It was absolutely wonderful. I just loved it. Thankyou.”

Colin also does his dive and returns to the boat in awe of the creatures.

“I didn’t expect it to be like that. It was just phenomenal,” he says.

Amy is the last to dive. Once in the cage she screams: “The cage is moving. Oh my God there’s the shark!”

Back safely on the boat afterwards she says: “I’m so proud of myself.”

It’s celebrations all round for the stars but then they are told that there’s an extra challenge ahead. There’s a chance to get even closer to the sharks with a specially designed cage made out of clear Polycarbonate which will offer uninterrupted views of the big fish. However with more bad weather on the way there’s only time for two celebrities to take part.

Richard and Ruby agree to take the plunge and both go into the cage together. Ruby is amazed: “I could live down here!”

Richard is also suitably impressed: “It’s a dream Ruby.”

Ruby says afterwards: “I didn’t want to leave it I’m so in love with it.”

The excited pair then swap notes. Ruby says: “That was the biggest high I’ve ever had. It’s magnificent and it doesn’t care about you!”

Richard says: “Coming back to Africa 40 years later and going in the water with a Great White Shark was a perfect full circle. So thanks very much for having me.”

Ruby adds: “It’s jaw dropping. It’s Jaws dropping!”

See Celebrity Shark Bait on Bite Night, Sunday September 4, at 9pm on ITV1 which also features the documentary Sharks On Trial and Steven Spielberg’s Jaws
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