Fame and Faith Songs of Praise


Fame and Faith

David Grant meets adventurer Bear Grylls, actress Danniella Westbrook and Lord Taylor of Warwick to discover how they deal with fame and faith in the public eye.


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Transcript


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MUSIC: "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love" by David Grant

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Those were the days when I was starting out on the path of

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fame and fortune.

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And I've come through it pretty unscathed, I'd like to think.

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Today, I'm meeting three famous faces

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who've each had to manage their fame.

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And have used their faith to see them through.

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Actress Daniella Westbrook, adventurer Bear Grylls,

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and the peer, Lord Taylor

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join me to explore the relationship between fame and faith.

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And we hear the hymns and songs they've chosen that inspire them.

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London's Dominion Theatre.

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It's the place where, in the early '80s,

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I played to full houses at the start of my pop career.

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Since then, I've worked in the world of television as vocal coach,

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talent judge and presenter.

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# Could it be I'm falling in love... #

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Coming back to this venue reminds me of that feeling of euphoria,

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of being onstage with an audience who were there to see me.

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It reminds me of how much I loved it.

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But what I didn't realise was that once you're in the spotlight,

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that time of being anonymous ends, you're often under scrutiny,

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and you can't turn back from that.

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Now, of course, fame has its many privileges, don't get me wrong.

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But it also has its responsibilities.

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And sometimes, its drawbacks.

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MUSIC: "Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode

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I'm looking forward to meeting three very different celebrities

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who have shared the experience of fame.

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To find out what it's like for them to have lived their lives in

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the public eye, and to discover what role faith has played

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in their journey.

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How do they balance the demands of fame with the very personal

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requirements of faith?

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Before we hear their music choices, our first hymn,

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from Arundel Cathedral, puts God very firmly in the spotlight.

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Being famous is an aspiration these days.

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In recent polls of young people, it often tops the list,

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ahead of being good-looking or rich.

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Our first guest really knows what it's like to have been

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famous from a young age. She's the actress Daniella Westbrook.

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Gotcha!

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Daniella shot to fame at the tender age of 15,

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playing the role of tearaway teenager Sam Mitchell in Eastenders.

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-She's gorgeous.

-He.

-Where did you get him?

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The trauma of her on-screen character was mirrored in her private life.

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Daniella fought a very public battle with drug addiction.

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And some saw her as an example

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of the excesses of celebrity gone wrong.

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I want to find out how Daniella's perspective on fame

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has changed now that she's found faith.

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MUSIC: Theme From Eastenders

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Daniella, what was it like to be a star at such a young age?

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It was weird, if I'm honest. Because I was just a normal girl from Essex.

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And getting into Eastenders

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literally two weeks before I left school was crazy.

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All I wanted to do was be an actress.

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So I was excited at the prospect of doing what I loved,

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more so than being famous.

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And then as time went on, the fame overtook doing what I love.

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Did fame rob you of the joy of acting?

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Yes, I think it did.

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I think because I just didn't know what to expect,

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I didn't know how to handle it.

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I hadn't been brought up in that side of life, celebrities,

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film stars, and going to premieres, and meeting Tom Cruise.

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You know, crazy things that just don't happen to kids.

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Did drugs play a part in that, at that point?

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How did that become part of your life?

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I was taking drugs within a few years of being at Eastenders.

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And that really showed in my performance.

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The partying side of it

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and the celebrity side of it was more important than the job.

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How bad did it get before you went, "I need to do something about this?"

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It got to the point where, in the end, I was pregnant with my daughter.

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And the doctor said to me that my liver, everything was giving up.

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And he said that I was going to lose the baby, I was going to die.

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And I was like... (EXHALES) I really don't want to die.

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I want to live.

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I've found the man I want to spend the rest of my life with,

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I've got a wonderful son, I'm about to have another baby,

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and the devil has got hold of me.

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This drug has got hold of me and I can't let it beat me.

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I know I'm worth more than this.

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I was like a possessed person at that time.

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And I had to flick the switch.

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Since those difficult years, Daniella has turned a corner.

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As a working mum, she has returned to the world of soaps.

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And unlike those early days, Daniella is now a Christian.

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So the journey from addiction and being close to the point of death

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to the you now, what role did faith play in that journey?

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I've always believed in God. Always. I just didn't know him.

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Throughout my using and my darkest times, I did used to speak to God.

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When you're alone and at your depths, I think people do that in any case.

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Whatever they are going through and life.

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Even if they're not spiritually aware.

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At their darkest moments, the person they call upon is God.

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And I did that a lot.

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And then in my last stint in treatment,

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in Arizona, I was pregnant with my daughter.

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I couldn't sleep and I went out into the desert.

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I just stood there looking up, and I was like, God, if you're there,

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if you have a plan for me, then you need to show me

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because I'm ready for your help. It's your will, not mine.

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And I need to go with it. I can't do this on my own.

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My way doesn't work and if you have a plan for me, I don't care

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if it's not acting, I don't care what it is, I just need to live.

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I want you in my life and, if you'll take me, I'm ready.

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Are people surprised when they discover that you have faith?

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People found out I had faith when I was in America

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and I was already well into being...like two years.

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I'm still a baby Christian. I'm still a work in progress, and we all are.

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None of us are ever going to be perfect.

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Back in England they were like -

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Oh, my God, she's gone from a drug addict to a crazy Christian.

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You know what, if you want to label me, label me. That's cool.

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But walk a mile in my shoes and then judge.

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I used to be a big person for judging until I came into the Church.

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And that was one thing I had to check myself on constantly,

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not to judge others.

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But what does fame mean to you today?

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And how has faith influenced what you think fame is?

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Actually, what I realised is, fame is the biggest addiction there is.

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Everybody wants it. Whether they say they do or not. Most people want it.

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Most people, when they've got it, don't know what to do with it.

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And then they either want more or they want to get rid of it

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because they don't like it.

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I realised through my faith that actually using your status,

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whether it be as an actress or whatever that may be,

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can actually do a lot of good for a lot of causes.

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What kind of person are you today?

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I think I'm more honest. I'm more selfless, which is great.

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I'm just a mum that tries to do the right thing.

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And I just feel like I'm turning the page into a new chapter

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of my life now with my faith.

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And moving into my 40s this year,

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it feels like a great new chapter's about to start.

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It feels like life's just beginning.

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What role does God play in your life?

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God's my father. And he always will be.

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He's my parent, he's the person I speak to in my time of need,

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he's the person I trust in.

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Sometimes I just think my way's better and it never is.

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And God will always be my father.

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And that's just the way it is for me.

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Are there any pieces of music that you go -

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yeah, I can identify with that?

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I'm more of an Evangelistic church.

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So I'm quite rocky and I love praise and worship.

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I love seeing people be free and lit up in God.

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It feels great.

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One famous face who rediscovered his childhood faith as a teenager

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is better known for his extreme adventures, risk-taking,

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and his action-man image.

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Christened Edward but known by his nickname,

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Bare Grylls is famous for his TV show Born Survivor

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which has a global audience of more than a billion.

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OK, this one is going to be a mission.

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But Bear hasn't had an easy ride.

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And he's had many close shaves with death.

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I want to know whether being a Christian

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gets in the way of his tough-guy image.

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You are known worldwide. Was fame something you set out to find?

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No. No, it's been a kind of a monster that's crept up.

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But no.

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All I ever wanted to do as a kid was climb trees

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and then fall out of them and get muddy.

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I think if somebody had told me as a seven-year-old that

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I could have a job that essentially was that,

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I would have thought, heaven, you know?

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But I always take it with a big bucket of salt.

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Don't get involved in too much of the glitzy stuff around.

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Are people ever surprised that an action man like you is a Christian?

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People have lots of different reactions.

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I think there is a stereotypical image of a Christian,

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and to be honest, I grew up with that as well, as a kid, so I threw

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the baby out with the bathwater and thought Christianity is boring,

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when, actually, the heart of Christianity, of this person,

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Jesus Christ, was the most totally wild, free,

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unreligious person you'll ever meet.

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Bear, how would you describe your faith?

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I think I've always tried to keep my faith simple

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and not to let it get religious or overcomplicated.

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I think the one thing my Christian faith has done for me

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is it's given me that kind of core and that backbone

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and that secret strength of having been found,

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and that's something that brings with it a quiet confidence that has

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sustained me and helped me so much on high mountains

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and on remote jungles and all these difficult places.

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So, Bear, which hymn says something about your faith?

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Well, I always love the hymn Lord Of The Dance,

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and again, for me, it's been a life lesson to realise that our Lord

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isn't the Lord of church and behaving better and being religious.

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He is the Lord of the dance, and it's about being free

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and it's about having that raw, moving, real personal faith.

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Bear's TV career almost didn't happen.

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Trained as an SAS soldier, he was on leave from duty in 1996

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when a freefall parachute jump went badly wrong.

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He broke his back in three places

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and spent the next year in military rehab.

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Suddenly, your world's ripped apart,

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because you can't move and you're strapped up in this place,

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and the doctors didn't know

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if I was going to be able to walk again properly,

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but I think where my faith has really come into its own

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is it was a real guiding light for me, saying, "You're going to be OK."

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So after you recovered, and after you were able to walk again,

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you became the youngest person to climb Everest.

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Why did you do that?

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I suppose Everest was my proving ground, to prove that I wasn't out.

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You know, just because like's not me sideways, I'm doing to get

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back up, and actually, that, I think, has been

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a great lesson for me of life, is that the rewards don't always

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go to the best or the brilliant, they go to the dogged.

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And I remember just collapsing to my knees, you know,

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and it was a powerful moment for me.

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So you go to these extreme places. What keeps taking you back to them?

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What takes me back to all of these wilds

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and the extremes is that it's one thing in my life that I'm good at.

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When I'm in a jungle, I'm up a mountain, I come alive.

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I feel a kind of strength there, and life becomes much more raw.

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That fluff gets blown away.

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Have you had some near misses?

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I've had too many near misses, and they're times I'm not proud of.

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There have been numerous close shaves with being bitten

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by nasty snakes and pinned in big rapids

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and falling down crevasses and parachute failures, you name it.

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But I try and focus, always, on getting home,

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and I try and forget about the bad times.

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How do you reconcile making these extreme programmes for TV,

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and your responsibilities as a father and as a husband?

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I think it's hard.

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I don't think I've resolved that, and I think it's always a struggle

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in my life, but at the same time, it's my job, it's what I'm good at.

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We don't take crazy, unnecessary risks.

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We plan things, we consider them well,

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and as you say, nothing's worth dying for.

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At the end of the day, it's a TV show.

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When people see you on TV and they see what you do,

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what do you want that to ignite in them?

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I want them to realise that life is precious,

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and life is best lived boldly.

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You got to grab with both hands, don't be scared to have dreams,

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don't listen to the dream-stealers who tell you you're crazy,

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and to go for it, and understand that the key ingredient is

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always that determination to keep going.

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Tell me the about hymn that you've chosen.

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I've chosen Lord Of All Hopefulness, just because when I go to church

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and I hear that, it feeds me,

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you know, to hear that this Lord of all hopefulness is with me

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at the start of the day, and through our business and when we're running

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around and we're facing dangers, and I come away really super grateful.

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When you're in a position of power and a Christian, you're always

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under scrutiny, both when things go well and when things go wrong.

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Lord John Taylor of Warwick made history in 1996

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as the first black Conservative peer in the House of Lords.

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The immigration debate is, too often,

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sadly encouraged by the media.

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He made history again in 2011, when he was the first peer

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to be given a custodial sentence during the expenses scandal.

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I want to find out what it's like to be a Christian in the world of

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politics, and what happens when a man who has faith is sent to prison.

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What happens to faith then?

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You've spent a long time in the spotlight.

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How did that story evolve?

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Well, it was amazing, really,

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because I was the first black person to achieve many things.

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I was the first black Conservative peer in the House of Lords,

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so the media picked up on that, and that fed upon itself.

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Everything I touched turned to gold.

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I had an amazing time, and I was literally mixing with popstars,

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and people were asking for my autograph.

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Tell me about that kind of tension between fame and politics.

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It is an issue.

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I had probably a good 16, 17 years of people telling me that,

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you know, I was going to be a Cabinet minister,

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I was going to achieve this, achieve that,

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and you are put on a pedestal, and your ego is built up.

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But, you know, we all fall short of the glory of God,

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and I recognise that now more than ever.

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What's it like being a Christian in this world?

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Difficult, because we are held to a high standard, I'm aware of that.

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The big battle is you try and do the Lord's work for him,

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and often I've got in the way of the Lord,

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and I think, in a way, he's telling me, "OK, step back.

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"You've tried it your way. Now let me help you."

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Are there any hymns that you listen to that encourage you?

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Amazing Grace, I think, is my favourite, because grace is amazing.

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It's undeserved, we can't earn it.

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It's a gift, and that gift was given to us literally 2,000 years ago.

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As well as a rising political star,

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Lord Taylor became a TV presenter and media pundit.

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Then, two years ago, he made the headlines again,

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but for the wrong reasons.

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Lord Taylor of Warwick has been found guilty

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of making false claims for Parliamentary expenses.

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Any reaction to the guilty verdict, Lord Taylor?

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'Sentencing him to a year in jail, the judge said Lord Taylor

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'had thrown away a life of public service.'

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Well, it was a shock.

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I actually wasn't expecting that verdict,

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and of course, you feel as if your world has crashed,

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and I remember saying to God, "Well, what now? What do you want of me?"

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And I believe he said to me, "Faith."

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You know, Hebrews 11:6.

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"It is impossible to please God unless you have faith."

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What did you learn about yourself

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and about God through this experience?

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I know he can use me, because I've been through a tough time.

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If you look at the Bible, it's a story of failures, you know.

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David was a great leader, but he failed in many ways,

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but God used these men despite their failures, and that has really

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encouraged me, the fact that God is a God of a second chance.

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Lord Taylor spent three months inside Wandsworth Prison,

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before returning to his job as a peer in the House of Lords.

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I found, in prison, some amazing kindness, actually.

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Yes, there was a bit of mickey-taking, you would expect that,

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you know, "Does my Lord want claret with your dinner?"

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You know, that's fine, and you laugh, you go along with that.

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Did you ever feel,

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going in, as though you had somehow been a bad rep for God?

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Done bad PR for God?

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I think that's my biggest problem, actually,

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and I'm still wrestling with that, because it's easy for people to say,

0:29:380:29:42

"Call himself a Christian? Look what happened to him."

0:29:420:29:45

And I felt I'd let God down, but I believe he's reassured me

0:29:450:29:50

that I can never let him down, because it's not over.

0:29:500:29:54

He is going to use the experience I've been through for something good.

0:29:540:29:58

Has this difficult experience

0:30:010:30:02

changed your perception of fame and faith?

0:30:020:30:06

Well, it's reinforced that fame is fickle, it really is.

0:30:060:30:09

I mean, fame is not something to strive for,

0:30:090:30:13

because you can be up one day and down the next.

0:30:130:30:16

You can use fame, but try and use it for good,

0:30:160:30:19

not just to massage your ego.

0:30:190:30:20

In terms of faith,

0:30:200:30:22

there's no doubt that it's emphasised even more to me

0:30:220:30:27

that faith is vital, and I feel that God is toughening me up,

0:30:270:30:31

in many ways, perhaps through the experiences I've been through.

0:30:310:30:34

The relationship between fame and faith isn't always an easy one.

0:33:080:33:12

Faith can be a rescue, a challenge, or a comfort,

0:33:120:33:15

and as we live our lives, neither fame nor faith stays the same.

0:33:150:33:20

'Next week, Connie Fisher goes home to Pembrokeshire

0:33:220:33:25

'and meets others who have returned to the land of the fathers.'

0:33:250:33:29

'She'll be kayaking into coves

0:33:290:33:30

'and carrying a cross on a coastal journey.'

0:33:300:33:33

'Music comes from John Owen-Jones

0:33:330:33:35

'and the congregation of St David's Cathedral.'

0:33:350:33:38

Subtitles by Red Bee Media

0:33:540:33:57

David Grant meets adventurer Bear Grylls, actress Danniella Westbrook and Lord Taylor of Warwick to discover how they deal with fame and faith in the public eye, and to hear the hymns that inspire them.


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