Mel Giedroyc has comforted numerous budding bakers over their soggy bottoms on The Great British Bake Off and, now in BBC1’s Vertigo Roadtrip, which screens on Wednesday, May 7 at 9pm, she is offering a shoulder to cry on for five people who suffer from an extreme fear of heights. The one-off show sees her oversee proceedings as psychologist Dr Jennifer Wild take the team around the globe on a number of challenges to help them confront their fears.
TV & Satellite Week caught up with Mel to find out more…
What was the appeal for you?
“It is quite a similar thing to Bake Off, it is essentially human stories, it is characters put together in an extraordinary circumstances and it is how people react when they all have this extreme thing in common. It is quite fascinating to be thrown into their midst and to see what happens. There are 3½ million people suffering from this in the UK, it is phenomenal, I had no idea.”
Were you surprised how debilitating it was for them?
“Yes, we had little Jodie who is 19 and training to be a nurse and she has the rest of her life ahead of her, but she can’t really go up stairs if they have gaps in due to something that happened when she was a tiny girl. Then Louise had an appalling thing happen to her when she was left on the Clifton Suspension Bridge and has never been able to go over a bridge. People develop strategies to sidestep this huge elephant in their room, it is extraordinary.”
Do you think we are quite judgemental about people with a fear of heights?
“Yes I really do. It was interesting with Lee, one of our group, who is a very outgoing, gregarious estate agent and he has almost had to lead a double life really because he has had this awful fear that people might laugh at him and think he was a wuss.”
What is the main premise of the therapy?
“It is all about teaching your brain the tricks and techniques to put the rational before the irrational, which is hard for all of us. All of them were probably quite cynical at the start, they thought, ‘Come on what is a few days with this woman going to do when we have had a lifetime of this?’ But hopefully Jen has given them the skills to go ahead and progress in their day to day lives.”
Did it help them to be in a group?
“Yes the group idea was clever and Dr Jen, who normally works one on one, wanted to see if her therapy works more effectively because they are in a group. They got extreme support from each other because in their everyday lives they are going to be the only one with this so it was nice for them to be among friends who weren’t going to laugh at them or think they were a bit odd and I think as a group, since filming has finished, they have really stuck together and even went up The Shard together.”
What is next for you?
“Sue Perkins and I are in talks about doing something on live telly, which we are very excited about because live TV is our thing and it is where we started and what we love doing.”