'If you're on the edge of a ledge and there's 400 metres of nothing below, you are going to panic'
Jumping off cliffs? Abseiling down waterfalls? BBC One's new Saturday night offering Prized Apart is an adrenaline-filled battleground - with a twist
In a world where celebrities munch on maggots and people battle it out to survive life on a desert island in the name of small screen entertainment, it seems Saturday night game shows need to, well, up their game.
Gone are the cuddly toys, gentle challenges and affectionate rib-poking of yore, and in their place are heart-racing pursuits and on-the-edge-of-your-seat jeopardy.
This is what it now takes to grab the public's imagination - and new to the arena is BBC One's Prized Apart, which comes laced with nerve-racking challenges.
In the six-part prime time show, 10 couples compete in a series of stunts and terrifying tasks to win a hefty £100,000 prize.
Making life even harder is the fact that the couples will be separated - for up to six weeks without any contact - with one partner working as a "studio player" in the UK, where Emma Willis will be quizzing them, while the other will act as an "adventurer" in Morocco, with Reggie Yates supervising the action and encouraging them to complete the hair-raising challenges.
"The show is adrenalin filled and all about adventure, but part quiz show as well," explains mum-of-two Willis, who is married to Busted singer and former I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! winner Matt.
"It's something that I've always wanted to do. Who doesn't love a quiz? It was a no-brainer for me," adds the 39-year-old.
So what else is there to know? Let's find out...
To begin with, the adventurers work as a team, but in the later stages they'll compete as individuals. As an opening gambit, the groups will trek across part of the Sahara Desert, with the winning team going through to the next round and the three slowest facing an additional survival challenge to stay in the game.
The adventurers really do have their work cut out in the survival tasks. Though they vary week to week, they are all extremely gruelling. One, for instance, sees the intrepid contestants abseiling down North Africa's tallest waterfall. While all this is going on, the partners of the three lowest placed adventurers must then fight to keep their partner in the competition by answering a set of general knowledge questions in a head-to-head round. If they succeed, their adventurer can continue in the game. But with just two places up for grabs, one of the three couples will have to leave the competition.
Marooned in Morocco and faced with some hair-raising challenges, it's little wonder the contestants out in the field have formed tight friendships off the back of the show. But equally, so too has Willis' team. "Our contestants in the studio were all rooting for each other, even though they're competing against each other," she explains. "They created this little bond that the guys in Morocco had as well. They were meeting up every week, and staying in contact in between. There was a real camaraderie going on." It's understandable, considering they were separated from their partners - with no contact - for the duration. "And throw kids into the mix as well ... it's tough for them," Willis adds.
Star From Afar
While Willis and Yates were both thrilled to be part of the series, and to finally have the chance to work on something together, they do have one regret - filming in separate locations meant they didn't have much time together. "We've been desperate to work together for a long time," explains Yates (32). "We share managers as well, so it should be a lot easier than it has been to find projects, but this was just the perfect fit. It's been lovely. The only unfortunate thing about it is..."
"We're never together!" Willis chips in. "The only time we're on screen together is the final. That was the only moment we had to banter together on stage," adds her co-host.
While the adventurers are battling canyon swings and abseiling down tall buildings, the presenters were quite happy to console and cheer from the side-lines. Yates admits he would struggle with "the heights". "Jumping off of something into nothing isn't fun," he reasons. And while Willis would be up for the challenge, she's pragmatic about her limits. "In my brain, I'm fearless," she explains. "So I'll go up something high, go really fast down, I'll jump off anything, but in reality, I would be terrified," she confesses with a laugh.
"I think it's one of those things where you can be up for things and willing to give it a go, but the minute you're stood there on the edge of a ledge and you've got to grab a bar with 300-400 metres of nothing beneath you, you're going to panic."
Prized Apart, BBC One, today, 7pm