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Respect Fair City's Ryan Andrews says surviving Hell Week was 'toughest experience' of his life

'I won this show but the broken rib meant I could hardly get up the stairs and it took six weeks of recovery'

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Fair City’s Ryan Andrews.

Fair City’s Ryan Andrews.

Fair City’s Ryan Andrews.

Fair City star Ryan Andrews said surviving RTE’s Ultimate Hell Week – The Professionals was the toughest experience of his life.

And the 28-year-old actor said his fiancée Michaela was so distraught at what he went through that she cried through every episode.

Ryan, who has played Sean Cassidy in the soap since 2008, was just one of three celebrities who survived the gruelling course along with rugby player Peter Stringer and reality TV star Marc O’Neill.

TV viewers saw the Dubliner walk away exhausted but proud following the final show on Wednesday night.

And the star, who broke a rib on the show and who had to watch his dad Jimmy battle for his life with Covid earlier this year, said he was proud of his achievement.

He joked that now he would have to deal with the real hell week of planning a wedding.

“When you go through something so tough and hard, when you come out the other side it's all worth it in the end,” he said.

“There is a sense of relief. It’s a weird process because we filmed that months ago and we have had to live with that never telling anybody what happens.

“My fiancée and my mam and dad probably didn't realise how tough it was. There is respect going on now. It's the proudest thing I've ever done.

“I won this show but the broken rib meant I could hardly get up the stairs and it took six weeks of recovery.

“I went through a lot of torture, a lot of pain, but Michaela didn’t really understand.

“But when she saw the show she really was crying every episode. She said, ‘Why didn’t you just stop?’ So, it's an emotional rollercoaster for other people but she is really proud.

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“It was 100% tougher than I thought. Normally you go into things going, ‘Oh, it won't be that bad.’

“But it’s a lot worse. And you can't prepare for it, jumping out of helicopters and burning buildings, getting one hour sleep and no food. It was torture.”

He said there were times he thought he would not make it, particularly after he broke his rib in combat.

But he said ultimately it came down to who you were and what you wanted from the show.

“And I wanted to complete the course and that’s what I did.

“I thought the broken rib would hold me back and I was so annoyed and frustrated that something so simple and stupid was going to stop me.

“But in the end it actually got me through because I thought, ‘I'm not going to let this stop me.’ I got so stubborn and resilient that's how I got to the end.”

Viewers saw his lowest point when he had an emotional breakdown” during an interrogation after having a balaclava put over his head.

“I was talking all about my dad who had Covid and that reminded me of him not being able to breathe on a ventilator. All this stuff came out of nowhere.

“I didn't know I was going to talk about it but I was so emotionally tired, that was my lowest moment of the year let alone in the show.

“But I always say when you get to the lowest point the only way is up and that's what happened after that.”

He said the camaraderie between all the contestants was amazing.

“That’s what keeps you going and that's really the reason I stayed. We started off with 18 people and as people left, the smaller the group the tighter it got, the closer the bond.”

Ryan said he trained specifically for the show, using weights and working out in the cold. Although he couldn’t do a marathon he was ready for what the show threw at him.

“Mentally, I was strong going into it. There are a lot of people stronger and tougher than me but mentally I was the strongest.

“I went out to Fair City during it and the respect levels were just through the roof. They were all saying well done and how proud they were which was really nice.”

His chosen charity for the show was the Mater Foundation because the Dublin hospital had saved his dad’s life.

“He was in ICU for 10 days and a ventilator for six days. They basically saved my dad and they were so special.

“They helped myself and my mam and my brother so much. The support they showed my dad and all my family was incredible.

“They go through hell every single day and in particular the last two years with Covid so I wanted to show my support.

“My dad is brilliant. He’s back at work, back cycling, back to full health and back to laughing and joking.

“It’s the most remarkable recovery from where he was. When you come home from something like Hell Week you know what you want and who you want to spend your time with.”

The actor said his next project was preparing for the Olympia panto with Michaela, where they first met aged ten, and where they will be both appearing in Olly Polly and the Beanstalk.

And then it will be wedding planning after getting engaged two months ago.

“Finding a date is quite tough because of Covid. From Hell Week to wedding planning is very similar,” he laughed.

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