Splash!’s Keith Duffy: ‘My belly flop hell!’

After playing hot barman Cairan in Coronation Street and singing to thousands of pop fans as a part of boyband Boyzone, Keith Duffy knows all about pressure. But he’ll need to be at his best to win a place in the Splash! semi-final this Saturday (ITV)…

Why do you think the first series of Splash! made such a splash?
“Viewers loved it because they were seeing famous faces starting as novices and through hard training becoming advanced divers. It’s the same this time – the level of dives some of the celebrities are achieving is unbelievable. It’s an incredible progression. It’s about defying the old saying that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. People are fascinated by that transition.”

What made you so keen to take part?
“At my age [39], I don’t often get the opportunity to learn a new skill like this. I’ve always admired divers, and I fancied seeing if I’ve got what it takes to learn a really challenging new discipline. And as an added bonus, I can now use this skill to show off on holiday in front of my kids!”

Run us through the experience of going off the 10-metre board…
“It’s pretty scary, I can tell you. It reminds me of the early days with Boyzone when I did a bungee jump from 400 feet in Florida. The first feeling you get on the 10-metre board is one of unbalance and dizziness, to the point where you feel you’re being dragged over the edge. You have to keep one hand on the rail to give you balance. That’s an important part of the transition from being totally terrified. You have to get used to being up there. Although I heard the amazing Tom Daley say that you don’t ever get used to it and that you always get butterflies in your stomach at that height.”

What does Tom add to the show?
“He’s a credit to himself and his family. To be so successful at his age is astonishing. He so dedicated. I spent time in Plymouth watching him. When we were all shattered after a very hard session, he would go off to do his own training. That made me realise the discipline you need to win an Olympic medal.”

What have you learned from him?
“He’s taught me to have a very positive attitude. I’ve learned that there’s no point in taking on a challenge if you don’t believe you will be capable of it. So I have to approach diving off the 10-metre board in a very positive frame of mind.”

Any mishaps when diving?
“I have done a couple of belly flops, and they’re really not very nice. It’s like someone hitting you very hard with a wet fish. I don’t want to do that again!”