Dom Joly: Trigger Happy Island

Left to right Aston, Karen Danczuk, Mark Jenkins, Zoe Salmon, Josie Lang, Bdear Grylls, Ollie Lock,

Left to right Aston, Karen Danczuk, Mark Jenkins, Zoe Salmon, Josie Lang, Bdear Grylls, Ollie Lock, Dom Joly, Thom evans, Lydia Bright and Dawn Harper - Credit: Archant

The Island was hell from the moment we jumped off the boat…

So finally the moment has come. Sixteen years after it first aired on Channel 4- Trigger Happy is back. It’s been a long journey through the weird world of show business. After I ended the first run of Trigger Happy I moved to the BBC for a supposedly enormous financial sum (sadly, grossly exaggerated) and then, three series later, moved on. I made a travel show for Sky drinking my way around the world. Then I became a travel writer, newspaper columnist, pig-owner, hot-air balloonist, got marooned in a couple of jungles and have finally came back to what I do best- dressing as a squirrel.

Totally by chance, a show that I did with Bear Grylls is also airing at the moment. In The Island with Bear Grylls on Ch4, I’m marooned on a deserted island in the Pacific for two weeks with nothing but what I’m standing up in. It was the single hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I wrote a column in this magazine some months ago about how I’d been eaten alive by sandflies and had to be economical with the actualite as to why I’d been in Panama. For this, I apologise but I wasn’t allowed to tell anybody until the show aired. I hope this won’t ruin our friendship going forward?

The Island was hell from the moment we jumped off the boat and swam away from ‘Barely There Grylls’ (he was helicoptered away to another franchise almost instantly). I remember complaining to other castaways how we were only doing two weeks and that we would be cheated of the full experience (the ‘civilian’ version does three weeks). Oh how little I knew! Time dragged so slowly and days felt like years on that ghastly island. The one thing that television can’t convey is the awful drudgery and boredom of being slowly starved and bitten to death. The human mind has a curious way of wiping these memories away so that you only remember the highlights. Watching the show, I almost felt like returning. It must be a bit like childbirth – after a while you forget all the pain and hardship and feel like popping another one out?

On Twitter people always find things to rant about. I was made President of the Island in the first episode. After someone had done something good – I jokingly told them – “you may have the pick of the women of the island.” This did not go down well with one woman who accused me of being from the 1970s and “demeaning women.” I tried to explain that it was a joke, in the context of me being a tribal chief and… but I shouldn’t have bothered. The number one rule of showbiz is that you can’t please all of the people all of the time… sometimes, you can’t please any of the people any of the time.

I was quite shocked by how much we all (especially me) swore. I don’t actually swear that much (my comedy is totally clean). I do, however, swear when nervous. I think you can ascertain that this was a pretty nervous two weeks, but I do apologise to anybody who was offended. I behaved like a bloody idiot.

Worst of all, was Channel 4 using a shot of my bare bottom, eaten to bits by sandflies, being used as a trailer for the show. It was only on about my fifth viewing that I realised that it was my bottom. I’d been incredibly uncomfortable sleeping on the island but had presumed that it was because of the hard forest floor. I had no idea it was so bad. You can imagine how proud my poor kids were to have their father’s spotty arse on telly every night. That’s showbiz kids.

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As they have to endure the Island – now it’s a double whammy with Trigger Happy coming back. It’s a toss-up as to what you want least in your father – to see his bare arse on telly or to watch him run around in a squirrel/sheep/dog costume? Whatever, it’s my job and somebody has to pay the bills. If you fancy it, do check it out – I’m rather proud of it… unlike my poor kids.

All New Trigger Happy is to be found on All4 – check it out.

Follow Dom on Twitter! Find him @domjoly