Alice talks to Josh Patterson about life after Chelsea, his popular podcast, Limitless and taking on new challenges in 2020.

I just love JP Patterson. He’s a person I want to shout about, perhaps because I relate to being misunderstood. Anyway it’s hard to write about him without gushing, but I’m going to try, starting with his podcast, Limitless which is really quite moving and recently hit number one on the Apple podcast chart. It’s about real people’s lives, interviews with sportspeope who have overcome serious adversity (including disability) and I’ve actually shed a tear or two listening, but there are lots of impressive things about JP Patterson.

He’s just not who you think he is at all. To me he was the guy off reality show Made in Chelsea, but then I started following him on Instagram a few years ago and saw the seismic change as he shed his reality show skin and emerged into the world a very different person indeed. Which is how we end up in his house discussing man buns (I’m trying to dissuade him), swapping design tips, and seeing the little fairy door on the side of his kitchen island, which he had made for his daughter India and around which he stencils glitter footsteps when she’s good. Yes he’s the dream.

‘People don’t know me,’ he says when I ask him if it bothers him, people knowing so much about his life? ‘They don’t know me at all. I’m very closed off. They know what a reality show has shown them or a magazine has told them, but they don’t know me.’ But they know he’s hilarious I venture (hide and seek with India is a highlight of his IG stories, not to mention the Dad dancing). ‘I’m so serious,’ he laughs, ‘but when I’m relaxed I’m a right plonker… One of the best moments I posted online was when I was walking into a shop and India vomited on my head. We can’t just post photos of people posing all the time.’ His hair posts are rather amusing too, but there’s a serious backbone to him, the sense of an honourable person invested in actually doing something of significance, which is not something you can say of a lot of people in the Instagram age. This year alone he got in a wheelchair and cycled the whole length of Britain in a bid to raise awareness on disabilities, not something you do lightly. That’s nine hundred miles from John O’Groats to Lands End.

He made the decision to go onto reality TV as a platform from which he could build a career. It has served him well; he has over four hundred thousand instagram followers at last count. The transition in his life has been huge, I observe from his MIC days. ‘A big frustration is that when you do a reality show you are really typecast and people generally think very little of you. The fact that you’re acknowledging the change is really nice. I always had a plan with reality, it was never going to be the be all and end all of my life. But it’s so challenging because a lot of my audience has come from a reality background and unfortunately that type of audience aren't necessarily invested in what I do now. It’s conflicting for me, because you start questioning whether you are going down the right path, even though I know it’s right.’

Funnily enough JP doesn’t particlularly like attention nor fame. ‘I don’t particularly like the reality industry if I’m honest with you, because I don’t think it understands its own identity. When I went to join a lot of people said they were shocked, they said this isn’t you at all. A lot of them didn’t want me to do it. But whether people like it or not reality stars have a lot of power now.’

‘Believe in it,’ is his advice to anyone hoping to follow in his footsteps by setting up a podcast or completing a sporting challenge. 'My biggest regret is that I cared too much what people thought. If I had listened to my mind Limitless never would have become a success. When you do something like this the ones that criticise you are the ones that end up supporting what you’ve done. A lot of people just use big names as click bait, but one of the things that I am really proud of is that we haven’t done that. We’ve just used regular human beings that people really connect with.’

‘My next experience will be a running challenge,’ JP says of his plans for 2020. ‘I’m going to take some time out of the wheelchair because my body has been tested somewhat. Every challenge I will do will be connected with a disability. This time I’m going to take my eyesight away, so I’m going to be running blind. I was a keynote speaker at a college recently and I met a girl called Paige who had lost her eyesight when she was four or five. She was training to be a teacher. It’s so funny how life throws you these moments, because I was pondering what my next challenge would be and when I met her, I knew this was it. How affected are we by individuals who don’t have sight? We’re not because ignorance is bliss.’

‘There is such a social barrier between so many different communities,’ he continues. ‘So often when someone with a disability walks into the room you pretend it’s not there. The word disability, I’m fascinated by it. I would never say don’t use the word, but so what? So often you feel sorry for them but when you get to know them, and see what they achieve you think what is there to feel sorry for? That person doen’t feel sorry for themselves. By having something taken from them it makes them hungrier to succeed in life.’

Which brings us onto the Buddhist philopsphy of focusing on mortality as a way to achieving greater enlightenment in an earthly life. ‘Many years ago before I joined the show my mental health was in such a bad state I was thinking of ending it all to be honest. I hit rock bottom and stared death in the face, and I think having not gone ahead with it, I’m so grateful for every day now. I live with gratitude because you just don’t know what’s going to happen. My friend Tanno (Ben Tansley with whom he completed the wheelchair challenge) came to see me on my birthday to meet my little girl for the first time and two hours later he was in a motorcycle accident paralysed from the chest down. One of my favourite quotes is, We’re naïve enough to think that tomorrow’s promised. How often do you waste a day thinking that?’

‘I’ll never buy India anything monetary or materialistic,’ he says. ‘I’ll buy her memories instead. Every time there’s a special occasion I make her a little book but I leave the last page blank so we can put a photo with the actual memory,’ he says. I mean, you can see why it’s hard not to gush.

‘With Limitless I would love to grow it into a franchise, to take it global,’ he says of his plans for the future, ‘and hopefully see it on a mainstream channel. I’d love to break a world record with India too. One of my favourite memories is a video of her getting out of her pram and pushing me into it. I’d love to write a children’s book, that’s something I’ve never said before.’ See that’s the real JP Patterson, full of plans and blessed ultimately with a limitless drive to achieve them.

If you like this, you might like to read:

Ten Best Life Hack Apps
Happy Not Perfect
Digital Detox

October 2019

By Alice Kahrmann