Gareth Gates hopes facing fear of stammering on Celebrity SAS helps others

Gareth Gates has said he hopes not being held back by his speech impediment on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins encourage others to push themselves out of their comfort zone.

The 39-year-old singer, who was the only recruit out of the original 16 to pass the 2023 course, has lived with a stammer since he was a child.

During the military-style series, he opened up about how he was bullied growing up and completed challenges which tested his speech impediment.

Gareth Gates has lived with a stammer since he was a child (Pete Dadds/Channel 4/PA)
Gareth Gates has lived with a stammer since he was a child (Pete Dadds/Channel 4/PA)

He said: “There’s a real difference between being gym fit and being battle fit.

“I’ve always been of the mindset that you should train as much as you can, but not being able to converse with people makes me feel very weak, so I never expected to be the only one to pass the whole course.

“That was the last thing I expected because of my insecurities. But to hear that has proved something to myself and I hope people who have any form of affliction at home watched that and think that if he can do it, then so can I.”

Gates reached the final stage of the course alongside former health secretary Matt Hancock, TV personality Danielle Lloyd, Olympic track and field athlete Perri Shakes-Drayton and Love Island star Teddy Soares.

In Sunday’s finale of the Channel 4 show, the last five competitors took part in a resistance to interrogation challenge, which saw Soares and Drayton removed from the course.

The final trio had to complete one last test of endurance, carrying heavy objects through deep water before hanging from a bar suspended in the air for as long as possible.

Gates, who found fame in 2002 as the runner-up on TV talent show Pop Idol, was declared the only recruit to pass the course by the directing staff (DS).

During the show, he revealed to the DS that he was verbally and physically bullied about his stammer when at school.

A stammer or stutter can present itself as a person repeating sounds, making sounds longer or when a word gets struck, according to the NHS website.

Gates said his “tough” experiences growing up made him “mentally strong”, which he feels helped him during the course.

“It was tough and my speech was at its worst there,” he added.

“I’m not great at confrontation or being put on the spot but I just had to somehow dig deep and I managed to tap into that. And I think that’s what got me through it.

“One of my greatest achievements from Pop Idol was that I heightened the awareness of stammering and also gave anybody who has any form of affliction hope that they can achieve everything that they’ve dreamt of and that they can be the person they want to be, even though they have these things that hold them back.

“So one of the things I wanted to achieve from taking part in Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins was that same thing, and the amount of messages that I’ve received while the series has been on air, saying how much I’ve inspired people to never give up, makes me realise that I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve.”

The singer added that the course has made him a “much stronger person”.

“That fact that I passed, so effectively won the whole thing, proved to myself that I am strong and that I’m not that same, cowering young boy who used to hide in the corner,” he added.

“I have actually grown into a man now and I can handle anything.”