"Alison Spittle, David Norris, and Dana get on a bus..." sounds like the opening of a very odd joke, but it is in fact exactly what you'll find on RTÉ’s new six-part series Celebrity Globetrotters. Joining them is Olympian David Gillick, Crystal Swing's Derek Burke, and author Victoria Mary Clarke. As the unlikely tour group sets off to explore Morocco, Alison Spittle talks to Jess O Sullivan about her adventure
Were you nervous before going on a big trip with celebrity strangers?
I tend to stay in my comfort zone quite a bit. I suppose it comes from when I was a kid; we weren't able to afford to go on holidays and stuff – like, we went to Trabolgan. Morocco is an assault on the senses and far enough away from Trabolgan. I thought I was adventurous because I was agreeing to go on the show, thinking it would be great. But when it came down to it, a tiny bit of an anxious person came out of me. But it's like going on a school tour with David Norris and Dana and not many people can say they did that.
Who is your favourite travel companion?
When they said David Norris was doing it, I said, ‘Yeah, I'll do it with him.’ He's a legend. David Norris is like Wikipedia. He genuinely loves Morocco, which is the reason he agreed to go. He's just as good craic as you think he would be, if not more. You almost end up talking like David Norris when you hang around with him. Dana as well: I think Dana and David Norris were like the mammy and daddy of the tour bus family.
Each of you had to lead the tour on one day, so how did you find it?
Usually I prefer to sit back and follow, but when I got my tour, I wanted to know as much information as possible. Then I thought, ‘Hey, if comedy doesn't work out for me, I think I'd like to be a tour guide.’ It just seems like a nice job. I didn't start making things up to sound as knowledgeable as David, but maybe I should have. I wouldn't know it if the others had been doing that. I'm really gullible, so you could tell me anything and I could believe it. I treat facts that people tell me in a pub, the same way as if I learned them in college.
Did some people get on better than others?
We're all from different walks of life, but we all got on so well. It's really mad who clicked with who, and you click with people for different reasons. Myself, Dana and Derek are a bit more country, then people of a similar age, family background would also break off from the group. Everyone had a different connection to everyone else. We were very versatile. We still have a Whatsapp that we message into. Everyone slags each other off. If we ever see a tractor we send it for Derek. It's nice that I'm friends with people that I would never have met before.
Was there anyone you were surprised by?
It's so mad, because I wouldn't have been a fan of Dana before. We have very different beliefs. But she's lovely. There's not a bad bone in her – she has a really lovely nature. When you take away politics and religion, everyone is so similar. One night she rang to check up on me, because I was having a bad day. She rang me through the hotel phone, and I was like: ‘Who's this ringing me on hotel phone?’ And a voice said: ‘It's Dana! I'm just ringing to check up on you and see how you are.’ That was very nice. Then there was another day when a woman held my hand and tried to do henna on me, and when I tried to pull my hand away she wouldn't let me. Then Dana came after her like, ‘Leave her alone.’ So Dana saved me from bad henna. If they don't show that on the show, I want to tell the world.
What's the best thing you've learned from this trip?
You really have to talk to people and see life from other people's perspective. That's the biggest thing it's given me: that I shouldn't judge people too much. Life is short. Just have adventures. It's good to be able to come home and be able to do a hot air balloon even though I was nervous about that. Though I had to be thrown into it and thrown out like a big dead sheep carcass, them plopping me in and plopping me out. It's not elegant. Dana just skipped out of it like a fairy of course.
You are rocking a bumbag a lot on the trip – is this because you were robbed eight times in Dublin?
Yeah, I had a bumbag on this trip so I was extra vigilant. I got robbed in my house a few times, people with knives up to me – mad stuff. When I've been cycling people have stolen stuff out of my basket or mugging me – I'm like the lottery for robbing. I live in London now and nothing's happened. But you have to live your life. And sure if I was to get robbed in Morocco, then at least it's a nice sunny place. It's important to look on the bright side.
Which do you find most difficult – acting, stand-up or reality TV?
This show is probably the thing I felt most uncomfortable about. Just being myself because, at least if people don't like my TV show, they don't like my TV show. With my stand-up maybe they just don't like my comedy, but we judge people who are on reality TV. Now that I've done it, I have so much respect for it. You play a character in this too in a sense, but I can tell you that my reaction to eating the sheep's head was real.
Was eating a sheep's head the worst thing you had to do in Celebrity Globetrotters?
I knew we'd have to eat it when I saw it in the market and that played on my mind all day. Not a hope in hell were they going to get me to eat a sheep's head. And the worst thing is that while we were at dinner, there was a kebab shop right across the road. It probably had all the same bits but it was in a pitta bread. I think I'd eat a sheep's head if you put it into a sausage.
So did you eat at all in Morocco?
Moroccans have good pancakes in the morning. Also I love soup and they eat hot soup for breakfast and I'm really in favour of that. One day we had been eating so much tagine, we were sick of it after a week and a half and we wanted something different. We ended up going to a petrol station that served steak. I would never eat steak from a petrol station – it wouldn't be the done thing, but I lashed into it there!
Will you have stories from the trip in your new stand-up show?
I'm touring the new show, Alison Spittle Makes a Show of Herself. I'll be in Vicar Street on March 30 and a few of the lads from the trip are going to come along to it. I'm trying to write stuff about it but I don't want to give anything away, so once it's on the television I can work it in.
Watch Celebrity Globetrotters on RTÉ One every Thursday at 8:30pm.