Scarlett Moffatt tells us how relocating to Namibia for C4’s brand-new anthropology serials changed her life…
Scarlett Moffatt is no stranger to living a life less ordinary on TV.
After becoming a household name on C4’s Gogglebox, she went on to win series 16 of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! and property a presenting gig on Ant& Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, where she proved she’s more than game for a laugh.
But even Scarlett felt C4 honchoes had gone somewhat bonkers when they asked if she’d be interested in living with a remote Namibian tribe for a month.
” I imagined sitting on my couch just watching TV was the weirdest thing I could do for a live ,” laughters Scarlett, who turns 29 on October 17.” So yes, as an idea, this was out there. I’d been in the jungle and envisioned this would be similar- but it wasn’t at all !”
In The British Tribe Next Door, Scarlett and her entire family- mum Betty, dad Mark, sister Ava and granny Christine- invest four weeks with the Himba tribe in Namibia, as one of the purposes of a social experiment to contrast two very varied worlds.
In a reversal of C4’s popular 2007 serials Meet the Natives, where five South Pacific tribesmen came to the UK, this four-part series plonks the Moffatts and a replication of their County Durham home- complete with all its mod cons- into a small village of semi-nomadic cattle-herders.
As British suburbia and Himba tribal life collides, the Moffatts find their whole way of life- from body image and the asset gap to social media and the roles of men and women- come under the Himba microscope.
” It was a genuinely life-changing experience ,” says Scarlett.” We haven’t done anything together since Gogglebox so we all hopped at it. How many people get the opportunity to do something like this? It sounded astounding and it was. We shaped such good friends and I learnt so much, weirdly, about myself .”
Here Gogglebox legend Scarlett Moffatt tells us more … What creature comforts did you take with you?
Scarlett Moffatt:” Our whole house was recreated in the village- it even smelt like our dwelling! It had all the mod cons like passing liquid, energy and about 22,000 owneds from our iPhones to our mane straighteners! The whole level was for the Himba tribe to see how Western people live .”
And were they impressed?
SM:” No, they hated our residence! They couldn’t believe we had so much stuff. They were like,’ Scarlett, why do you have so many clothes and shoes for just one person? Why do you have so many scatter cushions on your bed? ’ I was like,’ I don’t know, you’re right! I don’t need it all! ’ They questioned everything, which stirred me realise we buy too much pointless stuff. These are people who live with their entire families in dome-shaped shacks made of water and cowpat and have about 12 belongings. I felt we were self-obsessed and self-indulgent in comparison .”
There’s a lovely minute when a young Himba mum reads herself in a mirror for the first time …
SM:” She’d never seen her reflection before and do you know what she said?’ Is that me? I’m beautiful.’ How lovely to not pick yourself apart like we do in our culture. They have no vanity and are so proud of who they are. They taught me so much better about beauty and body image. I’ve always been self-conscious, but they told me they adoration my rollers of fat and craved them! One daughter, Kaitaarua, said,’ I’d love to be as beautiful and fat as you, ’ which would be slightly offensive normally, but these people don’t lie, they’re so genuine, friendly and warm, I knew it came from a good place. I didn’t feel judged there like I do at home. I went around prouder of myself in the village. My self-confidence has massively developed thanks to the Himba people .”
How did the rest of the Moffatt family cope?
SM:” My Nanny had the best time, mixing with the elders and teach them how to knit! My dad had to do cattle herding and lost them in four minutes, which stimulated lots of lads’ banter from the tribesmen taking the mickey! Mum loved it too, apart from when her new most special friend continued asking if she could share my dad one darknes in the bedroom. Mum had to explain that wasn’t how we like to do things !”
What did you learn from the experience?
SM:” So much. That family and working community is most important , not owneds. That glamour is what’s inside a person , not outside. And that language and different lifestyles are no barrier to friendship. I became so close with the Himba ladies- even with no translator we’d sit around, make up songs and have a laugh. If only I could Facebook them and stay in touch !”
What do you think your fellow Goggleboxers will build of the serial when they watch?
SM:” I hope they enjoy it and take away from it the same as us- that we need to stop buying stuff and help each other out more. The world would be a much better place .”
Interview by REBECCA FLETCHER
The British Tribe Next Door breaths on C4 on Tuesday at 9.15 pm.
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