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Celebrity Hunted star Bobby Seagull: ‘Improving my numeracy helped me on the show!’

28 Mar 2023

He may have a reputation for being a genius, but even National Numeracy ambassador Bobby Seagull isn’t 100% confident when it comes to a certain type of maths.

Fortunately, his appearance on Celebrity Hunted has proved his belief that anyone can improve when it comes to number confidence and skills.

Photo showing stars of Celebrity Hunted 2023

Struggles with geometry and spatial awareness

“What got me into maths generally was that I love number work, but I struggled with geometry and spatial awareness, it’s not something that’s come naturally to me,” the TV personality reveals.

“At school I always struggled with things where you’ve got shapes of dice and nets: where would the ‘one’ be, where would the ‘six’ be? The practical implication is that I’m not great at navigation in the real world.”

With the premise of the popular Channel 4 series – which is in aid of Stand Up To Cancer – involving pairs of celebrities going ‘off-grid’ in an attempt to escape detection by an expert team of ‘hunters’, Bobby knew he’d have to get to grips with navigation, or face being caught early.

Everyone can improve their numeracy confidence and skills

“The good thing is, with my mindset as a teacher, I think people can get better,” Bobby tells National Numeracy.

“Historically, my sense of direction and navigation are not where I want them to be, but during the course of Celebrity Hunted – which also stars my fellow National Numeracy ambassador Katya Jones – I really developed my sense of getting on trains, going off the beaten path and working out directions. It made me realise that in most things in life, you can get better with a bit of effort. That show really brought it out for me that I have got better than I was.”

“I know I’m not great, but I try to make an effort to learn: ‘OK, I’m here now, I’ll try and navigate myself rather than ask my friend or turn on Google maps. Let me see if I can follow a street map or navigate by understanding the directions.’ I wouldn’t even say I’m good at it now, but I’m definitely better than I was five or 10 years ago because I made a conscious effort to try and improve my spatial awareness of mathematics.”

Celebrity Hunted Bobby and Saffron

You can see how well Bobby and his Celebrity Hunted partner, YouTuber Saffron Barker, did by tuning into the series on Channel 4 from March 28.

Why not improve your own number skills on a range of every day maths concepts, by trying the National Numeracy Challenge?

Try the Challenge

Bobby’s TV show ambition…

Bobby also stars alongside actors Su Pollard and Rita Simmons, Boyzone’s Shane Lynch, comedian Nabil Abdulrashid, Paralympian Millie Knight and reality TV star Vicky Pattison in BBC2 series Pilgrimage, which begins on April 7 and sees the group journey along the Fatima Way in Portugal, before a poignant finale in which Bobby takes part in a festival of lights.

He also features in the new series of Indian Matchmaking on Netflix from April 21.

Having appeared in numerous TV shows including of course, University Challenge, on which he made his name, are there any other programmes on his wish-list?

“With Katya being an ambassador for National Numeracy, it would have to be Strictly Come Dancing!” laughs Bobby.

“I know I’m not a natural dancer – I’ve tried dancing [Bobby starred in The Real Dirty Dancing on E4 last year] and I definitely dance more like those enthusiastic uncles at a wedding! But I know from my maths teaching that everyone can improve with their maths. They can learn to feel much more confident and comfortable, and while they’re not going to become world-class mathematicians, they can have that everyday confidence and I think it’s the same with dancing.”

“People are not going to come to the West End to see me dance ever, but I reckon with the right training I could be a competent and reasonably confident dancer, so that show would really put me out of my comfort zone. I always think a lot of people don’t try to do maths and numeracy because they feel as if their comfort zone is that they can’t do maths, that they’re not a ‘maths person’. But I’d love to try something where I get to feel like I’m in that position.”

“I’m not a ‘dancing person,’ but I reckon with the right training, the right application and the right coaches I can learn to be more comfortable with it. Also, imagine if I was paired up with Katya! We know each other quite well, so that would be a funny partnership.”

Looking forward to National Numeracy Day 2023

Meanwhile, Bobby is excited about the sixth National Numeracy Day on 17 May, when he’ll be teaming up with Katya and West Ham United football stars for a livestreamed Number Fun quiz for kids, as well as encouraging children to take part in the Number Heroes Competition.

Bobby says: “When people say they ‘can’t do maths’ or they’re not a ‘maths person’, I think that’s wrong. I think it’s just that they’ve had negative experiences at school or in their life that’s made them think they can’t do it.
“By trying more maths in daily life you can learn to feel more confident with it, so I think it’s a skill we can all learn. There’s such excitement in the run-up to National Numeracy Day, it’s such a great event to be involved with.”

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Photo credit: Channel 4