Finishing line | 

RTE’s Ultimate Hell Week axed after five seasons as three celebrities pass gruelling final

The recruits over their last five days overcame each and every hell week challenge to make it to that stage

This year's line-up for Ultimate Hell Week

Left to right, David Gillick, Billy Holland, Setanta Ó hAilpín and Eric O'Donovan

The final four recruits speak to a DS

Eugene MastersonSunday World

RTE’s Ultimate Hell Week will not return to our screens after five seasons on air, the broadcaster confirmed last night.

The announcement was made after last night’s finale which saw three celebrities manage to pass the course after impressing over a gruelling week of challegend.

They were athlete David Gillick, rugby player Billy Holland and GAA star turned Aussie Rules sensation Setanta Ó hAilpín

The only one of the four finalists who didn’t pass the course was boxer Eric Donovan.

Speaking after the show, Jamie D’Alton, Executive Producer and Series Director of Ultimate Hell Week, confirmed it won't be returning.

"We are sad to announce that tonight’s episode of Ultimate Hell Week will be the last ever,” he said.

"Over five series across RTE One and RTE Two, 124 recruits have taken on the Hell Week challenge.

"We are enormously proud that for many of the recruits it was a hugely rewarding, sometimes life changing experience.

"It takes serious courage to sign up for a one-way ticket to Hell and every one of the recruits should be proud to have worn the Hell Week armband."

He added: “Massive congratulations to those who managed to pass the course. It takes superhuman effort to get to the end but they all displayed the qualities the DS were looking for; brave, dogged and determined while showing great honesty, teamwork and integrity throughout.

Left to right, David Gillick, Billy Holland, Setanta Ó hAilpín and Eric O'Donovan

"Huge credit to the incredibly hardworking production team who put the show together. It’s a big show, all shot live, in one continuous take and everybody on the team went above and beyond to pull the series off.

"Special mention to the men in black, the DS who are fantastic ambassadors for the Ranger Wing. And finally, thanks to everyone who watched the show and for getting in touch on social media.”

The recruits over their last five days overcame each and every hell week challenge to make it to that stage, including numerous rigorous physical and mental tests.

Surviving on two to three hours of sleep a night, they endured cold-water events, height tests and claustrophobic challenges as well as various trials of strength, stamina and determination.

Throughout the final episode tonight, viewers saw the final four recruits give The Hell Week course their final push on the last day in order to pass.

And finally the DS staff decided the recruits to pass The Ultimate Hell Week course: Billy Holland, Setanta Ó hAilpín and David Gillick.

Ray Goggins said on Billy passing: “Number 4, you came on the course after the back of your incredible rugby career, your leadership, your commitment to the course, your empathy, your kindness, your ability to put yourself on the line for you and for every else on the team was amazing to see. You hold all the values we hold dear. So, I’m happy to tell you, you passed the course.’

Billy said on passing the course: “Very thankful it’s done, very proud I completed it, other than the birth of my three kids and getting married, it’s the best thing I’ve done as an individual. Really proud of what I managed to achieve this week.”

The DS’s then met Eric Donovan (Number 12) and gave him the news that he didn’t pass the course.

The final four recruits speak to a DS

“ I told you at the start of the week, the qualities we look for in our candidates. It’s not just a question of survival and barely getting through the tasks. You have some outstanding qualities that we really really respected, your physical attributes were off the scale,” he was told.

“Your performance on Foreman Aftman was superhuman, it was amazing. But you consistently showed us that you couldn’t be affective carrying out simple tasks. So, unfortunately, Number 12 for that reason, you have been removed from the course, I have to take your armband.”

Eric said : “I’m incredibly proud, I’m gutted I didn’t make the grade at the final hurdle but immensely proud of my efforts and getting to the very end of the course. It was the maddest, craziest, toughest thing I have ever done in my whole life. I gave absolutely everything, every single thing I had and I couldn’t give anymore...

“I think this experience here will have a profound impact on my life, in a very positive way’ ‘It’s a bittersweet moment for me but more sweet than bitter.”

Next to meet the DS’s was Number 7, Setanta Ó hAilpín. “You came a long way to come on this course, you gave up a lot, you absolutely spent yourself for you and for the team, you worked hard all the time’. I’m happy to tell you, you passed,” they told him.

Setanta compared passing to winning an All-Ireland Final.

“Going through what I went through for the whole week, it is massive relief. It’s definitely something I will look back on in five or 10 years and appreciate what I did in that moment, it’s unbelievable,” he said.

Number 1 David Gillick was next to learn that he passed. He really impressed the DSs.

“Your intellect, your ability to support quietly, you listened to people all the time, you kept focus, kept your team ethic. You were an outstanding candidate so I’m delighted to tell you that you passed,” he was told.

David said: “It was an absolutely fantastic experience, I loved it, it has been best week of my life. There is no better week than Ultimate Hell Week to really really test you and see what you’re made of and that surprised me.”

Each celebrity recruit took part in Ultimate Hell Week for their chosen charity. Gillick chose Friends of the Coombe, Holland Jack and Jill Foundation, Donovan Cuan Mhuire Athy and Ó hAilpín Good Shepherd Cork.

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