The Incredible Mr Goodwin talks about his new show


The Incredible Mr Goodwin star, Jonathan Goodwin, has revealed how his new show will see him perform stunts that include putting a live scorpion in his mouth while handcuffed, testing his reflexes on a bear trap, dangling off buildings with only two fingers and escaping from his blazing straitjacket as he hung high in the air from the London Eye.

So how does someone decide rather than being a banker they’d rather cheat death on a regular basis and get themselves into some sticky situations…Jonathan credits his dad for his unusual career choice.

“I’ve never really had a proper job. I started when I was seven. It’s been part of my life for a very long time,” said Goodwin.

“My dad gifted me a book about Harry Houdini when I was seven and I just become obsessed. I was fascinated by it. I guess like any 7-year old who loves the character of a superhero – but what particularly appealed to me was that he was real and he didn’t wear his underpants outside of his trousers.”

Jonathan started his first stunts on a family canal barge holiday when he asked his dad to tie him up with a rope. “Sometimes I would get out and sometimes I wouldn’t.”

“And then I started taking locks apart and holding my breath in the bath, little things like that.”


Daredevil Jonathan Goodwin attempts to escape from his blazing straitjacket as he hung high in the air from the EDF Energy London Eye.
Daredevil Jonathan Goodwin attempts to escape from his blazing straitjacket as he hung high in the air from the EDF Energy London Eye


Jonathan doesn’t see himself a magician or even an illusionist, so how would he describe what he does.

“It’s really tough and we’ve had lots of chats with the channel about how to describe it,” he explained.

“I started off as an escape artist so I would definitely call myself that, but then it’s hard trying to come up with one word that sums up everything in the series.

“The closest I get is “daredevil” because those are the things that people will be talking about: hanging from a helicopter by my toes or climbing around on the outside of a moving car.

“So I’m probably a “daredevil”. But you can call me whatever you like.”

Jonathan realises he will be compared to the likes of David Blaine, however he says he is a different kettle of fish to the American illusionist.

“When he stands on a pillar in Times Square or in some ice, most people don’t know if that’s hard or not. It’s not relatable. I love creating moments of drama that people can understand.

“I liked his close-up magic better. When he moved into the endurance feats, for me he lost me a bit. But he’s an amazing chap and he really throws himself into all his projects.”

Analysing why people are fascinated by his act, he concludes: “Houdini said, ‘People will come to see you die’ and I don’t think people have changed that much in 100 years.

“Entertainment has changed quite a lot, but life or death is something that will make people sit up and listen. It’s my job to give them that.”

Other than Houdini, Goodwin lists movie stars Buster Keaton and Douglas Fairbanks as his idols (“They were doing extraordinary things long before health and safety was even a term”) and has used a movie stunt for the climax of his show’s first episode.

Mimicking a John Wayne movie stagecoach stunt, Goodwin climbs all the way around and underneath the outside of a speeding car.

“Except instead of front to back which would be easiest, we went sideways. It’s quicker, but much more dangerous. That was very, very intense.”

Asked how he deals with nerves, Jonathan admits there is no set rule or ritual, saying you just have to go with it and hope for the best.

“It’s one of those things where – and I think a lot of stunt performers would answer this question in the same way – there’s so much preparation that goes into it that by the time you’re going to do it, you just think “let’s get on with it”.

“You have to be meticulous to the point of it almost being boring. And the more you know about a subject, the less scary it is.”

“In the series, we did a stunt where I am handcuffed with a live scorpion in my mouth and, once I had decided that’s what I wanted to do, I went away and spent a ton of time researching scorpions and what they’re likely to do.”

“There’s all this kind of information that you have to know so that by the time I’m ready to put a scorpion in my mouth for the first time, I basically know what’s going to happen.”



Having such a bizarre job doesn’t come without some problems, as Jonathan found out while filming this series.

“We did an escape from a canal lock. It’s one of my favourite things we did in the series despite the fact that it didn’t go to plan.

“We went to a canal lock and I was zip-tied to the ladder at the bottom and then we flooded it with water.

“And I knew that was going bad pretty quickly. I was dragged out but I think it was actually more scary for the people watching it. I’ve seen the footage and it’s pretty grim. And I feel really sorry for the guy that tied me up.”

So what keeps him going and makes his job worthwhile?

“All of this is very much a performance. I am not naturally an adrenaline junkie.

“It affects me very weirdly actually – I don’t get a big high after doing this stuff, I just sort of chill out.

So the reason that I do this stuff is to create a show, to create a performance for the people that are watching me.

“It is about reopening that box of the world of the daredevil showman that doesn’t really exist any more. Because I love it and I think it’s amazing and I want to show it to as many people as I can.”


The Incredible Mr Goodwin starts tonight, March 7 at 9pm on Watch