Paul Danan: This Is Sparta


You know, weight plates don’t lie, and that’s why I used to get on with them so well. They tell you how things really are. It doesn’t matter how good or bad things are going for you outside of the gym, 100kg is a 100kg and that’s that. This is something Paul Danan knows and something I’ve spoken with him about.

You remember Paul Danan, right? He played Sol Patrick in Hollyoaks and on 2006’s Celebrity Love Island he was the comical bane of Sophie Anderton, who coincidentally is my favourite coke-head/escort/model ever (love you Soph). As a character he was engaging, as himself he is compulsive viewing. Never was there a celebrity who was more fitting for an attempted teasing. Especially since he had been sort of sidelined in the industry as a result of an incident in 2007 where, while tasked with turning on the Christmas lights in Preston, he shouted to the 3000 strong crowd, ‘Come on you motherf**kers…make some f**king noise!!’

So, back to the gym. It was in July this year that I was training in Legends Gym, Dalston (#legends #lightweightbuddy #nocontract) when I noticed a hulking Paul Danan racking up the bar for some bench presses. As I passed him he asked if I would spot him as he did ten reps of 140kg. This guy was serious and focused, training on his own, not there to talk shit, but just lift and go home. I liked that. His muscles were large and clearly defined. He reminded me of the character Boyka from the Undisputed films.

We spoke about training and our goals, and I said I recognised him from the telly. I think he was a bit sheepish for a while then, but we laughed about Celebrity Love Island and he relaxed again. He is a nice, engaging guy. He told me he runs a drama school, but then out of nowhere dropped a bomb. He said he could get me some ‘sauce’ if I was looking to go ‘nuclear’. I must be careful here, but I think he was offering me steroids. I looked him in the eyes and said, ‘mate, the only supplement I take is pain’. We laughed, but the awkwardness was there now and I made my excuses and left for the rower. I decided then that I would try to get him on Celebriteasing.

This is Sparta!


About a week later I sent this email to his management agency:

I’m hoping for some information on the availability of Mr Paul Danan in 2014.

The show I have in mind for Mr Danan is called This Is Sparta. It would involve residents of Sparta Street in Lewisham, SE10 living and training in the manner of Spartan warriors.

I’ve admired Paul since Hollyoaks and have actually had him in mind since 2005 when I felt he really showcased his no nonsense approach on Celebrity Love Island. I believe he would be a perfect host (potential co-host if Michael Wilson, formerly Cobra from Gladiators, comes through) for the show. I think Paul has a real approachability that would harmonise perfectly with the residents who get involved with the show. Much like Dermot O’Leary on X-Factor I think.

I would be grateful if you could let me know if this is something Paul would consider and if so what his availability is for next year.

I heard nothing for about a month, and then the agency head got in touch asking if it was still relevant and could I please send over a programme synopsis. I willingly obliged:

This Is Sparta

Have the excesses of modern living made us soft? Does the average person in the street have what it takes to become a fearsome warrior? Taking average, everyday residents from Sparta Street in Lewisham, London, SE10, this show follows ten men and women as they are trained to behave, live and fight like the famous warriors of Sparta, made famous by the Hollywood blockbuster 300. Historians, dieticians and personal trainers will all be on hand to assist their transformation, but can they do it?

I don’t believe there is a jobless TV presenter alive who wouldn’t want a piece of that pie. It’s like the Daz challenge on ‘roids. Knock on your door and promise you an eight pack and killer instinct. Where do I sign?

Paul’s agent was slightly more reticent than that though. And that’s cool, because I like the chase. I heard nothing back for a week so I told her I had a meeting coming up with Firecracker (a well-known production company) about the show and wanted to know if Paul was on board.

Hi, has this actually been commissioned? What are shoot dates please?

Oh please woman, stop wasting my time. We both know that he wants the gig. Stop playing at being a seasoned pro and tell me what I want to hear. Of course I didn’t mail her that. I figured this was more fitting:

The show hasn’t been fully commissioned yet. I am hoping to secure this at my upcoming meeting and from experience have found that they are usually more forthcoming when I present a holistic program rather than more conceptual ideas. Proposed shoot dates are February to June 2014. Thanks.

And of course I got what I wanted. It pays to be polite:

At this point, Paul is free & keen. This can obviously change but that’s the situation as it stands. What previous shows have you produced/had commissioned?

‘Free’; well I knew that. ‘Keen’; now that’s a word I like. I soon had an image of his cheeky grin enveloping his face as he read the WhatsApp message that told him that this could be his ticket back to the big time. I could practically see his swollen frame rippling as he chuckled to himself about his imminent return to the VIP area at China White. But then something struck me. What manner would his steroid-fuelled rage take when he realised another lead had come to nothing? Who would fall within his path of destruction. The man can bench 140kg for ten reps, he is capable of some serious damage. He could throw a fridge or something. Scary.

For this reason I decided not to reply. While I still wondered if this awesome show idea would ever come to life, my attention began to shift towards contemplating the morality of Celebriteasing.


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