Rothbury's Alexander Armstrong takes on Kilimanjaro challenge for Comic Relief

Alexander Armstrong, left, with the other celebrity climbers on Day Five of the trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Picture by Chris Jackson / Getty for Comic Relief.
Alexander Armstrong, left, with the other celebrity climbers on Day Five of the trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Picture by Chris Jackson / Getty for Comic Relief.

Rothbury-born entertainer Alexander Armstrong is reaching new heights as he attempts to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief.

Alexander has joined eight other celebrities to tackle Africa’s highest mountain in what is being dubbed Kilimanjaro: The Return, taking place 10 years after the original epic climb led by Gary Barlow.

Alexander Armstrong, left, and Ed Balls on the Kilimanjaro trek. Picture by Chris Jackson / Getty for Comic Relief.

Alexander Armstrong, left, and Ed Balls on the Kilimanjaro trek. Picture by Chris Jackson / Getty for Comic Relief.

After weeks of training and breaking in their hiking boots, the famous faces began the huge 19,000ft challenge on Saturday with the aim of raising lots of life-changing cash for Red Nose Day, which is on Friday, March 15.

The Pointless star's fellow inexperienced climbers are Countryfile host Anita Rani, BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker, Love Island winner Dani Dyer, former MP Ed Balls, who celebrated his birthday on Monday, Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock, NFL sports pundit Osi Umenyiora and Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas.

But just as they hit the road to begin their eight-day trek, Alexander said: “What I’ve realised today is I really do have a fear of heights! That might prove to be a slight obstacle. My classical baritone training is definitely coming into play - I’m talking about the breathing rather than a Schubert recital in camp tonight. Although now I mention it...”.

Following in the footsteps of Gary Barlow, Alesha Dixon, Fearne Cotton, Cheryl, Kimberley Walsh, Ben Shepherd, Ronan Keating, Denise Van Outen and Chris Moyles, who took part in the 2009 climb - the intrepid team has already endured altitude sickness, basic camping conditions and freezing night-time temperatures.

Seven of the celebrities on Day Five of the trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, including Rothbury's Alexander Armstrong (back left). Picture by Chris Jackson / Getty for Comic Relief.

Seven of the celebrities on Day Five of the trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, including Rothbury's Alexander Armstrong (back left). Picture by Chris Jackson / Getty for Comic Relief.

On day four (Tuesday), the terrain became more challenging, with the only sign of life for the climbers being the odd stray buffalo. The team hiked through the Alpine desert to Pofu Camp where they will be hoping to acclimatise after a tough few days of altitude sickness.

While some have experienced serious headaches and nausea, Coquetdale's Alexander experienced less conventional symptoms: “There’s no nice way of putting it really, trapped wind. I’ve got trapped wind.”

On day five, (Wednesday), emotions were running high in the Kilimanjaro camp, as the extreme altitude began to have an affect on their bodies. The day's hike took them from Pofu to Massif, with nerves kicking in as the summit comes in to view.

All the drama will be followed up close and personal, with highs, lows, twists and turns and moments of delirium captured on camera by Shine TV, who are also casting in the Alnwick area for a possible new series of The Heist, which

Alexander Armstrong, top left, pictured with some of the other celebrity climbers. Picture by Chris Jackson / Getty for Comic Relief.

Alexander Armstrong, top left, pictured with some of the other celebrity climbers. Picture by Chris Jackson / Getty for Comic Relief.

A one-hour special documentary of the challenge, Kilimanjaro: The Bigger Red Nose Climb, will be shown on BBC One, on Wednesday March 13 at 9pm. It will reveal the full story of how the group coped with the trek, the conditions and each other.

Follow the hashtags #ReturnToKili and #RedNoseDay and the official Comic Relief accounts @comicrelief, to keep up with the latest developments.

You can support the team by donating at: comicreliefcom/kilimanjaro