James Rise and Fall

‘I begged for lip balm on day one’: James spills about life competing on Rise and Fall

‘Everyone with nothing was happier than those with everything’


Rise and Fall airs its finale tonight, and it’s been an unprecedented season of carnage, game-playing, friendships and betrayal. With a brand new show, no one really knew what we were in for, but all we knew was it was from the makers of The Traitors and that we were likely to be in for a great time. No one more so knew this than Rise and Fall season one contestant James Allen – the perfect person to speak to about what life was really like being a part of the show considering he spent a hefty shift as both grafter and ruler throughout the season.

To get a feel of all the insider secrets and what the show was really like to be a part of, I jumped on a call with James to get his perspective on the intense, rip-roaring ride of Rise and Fall!

Hey James! Great to talk after an insane season. Let’s take it back to when you rocked up on day one – who did you click with when you got there?

Hey! When I got there it was definitely Marina and Connor. When we met in the mixer we just sort of said, should we form an alliance? Obviously that wasn’t shown, but we said let’s get ourselves to the top as quickly as possible and that quickly transpired to Marina going up and then me and then Connor rising gradually bit by bit.

That’s how the game plan came together, things obviously evolved with the dramatics of the betrayal as all these shows go! As time goes on you get close to other people, Jack is definitely another one – he’s a bit of an older brother to me now – Sydney as well. They didn’t show much of mine and Sydney’s relationship on the show but we were actually very close.

Interesting you say alliances started from day one! It didn’t look like that to the viewers!

Interesting you say alliances started from day one! It didn’t look like that to the viewers!

So you’ve mentioned game plans – did you go in with one or did it form whilst you were there?

When I got there I had no game plan, obviously Rise and Fall’s format has never been done before, a brand new series. So I just thought I’d go in, read the room, suss out the rules of the game and go from there. Alliances quickly form just with who you are as people.

A big part of the show that we’ve all seen is how the basement vibe ends up infinitely better than the penthouse you’re all trying to get into. Did the basement vibe always feel great and did anyone expect to be longing to be back down there?

I can’t imagine any of us expected to be in the basement and wanted to stay there. When I rose, I just missed them so much. The mood was amazing because we all stuck together, we’re all going through the same thing in the same situation. Why not be friends and enjoy the moment? The morale down there was so much better than what it was in the penthouse. The juxtaposition of having everything to having nothing, but everyone with nothing were happier than everyone with everything.

There were times when we were all having a bit of a bad day and the energy was low or you were tired, or you just want lip balm. I begged for lip balm because on the first day my lips cracked on the first day, I was so sad. All we had was each other.

In hindsight, did you prefer being a grafter or a ruler?

I loved both equally. Being a grafter was fun because you’re with everybody, and the work shifts. Who gets to say they ate dog food on national television or they got electrocuted on national television. But also being a ruler that was the true test of my ability to back myself and not to doubt myself for my thought processes.

It got to the point where people wouldn’t even say my name in the Red Room and I felt quite untouchable. Being a ruler was fun because no one gets that power in real life, so to run with it and adapt it how you’d work with it was incredible.

James, do you think going up to the Rise and Fall penthouse and becoming a ruler ruined people’s characters or made people act in ways they wouldn’t normally?

Some people but not everybody. Some have remained consistent like Eddy or Sydney. It’s a game, so you’ve got to go behind people’s back to do something. Certain people crumbled, but I myself got into a good stride of remembering grafters are most important. I wasn’t scared to say what I needed to say because at the end of the day we have to work as a team regardless.

I voiced my opinions level headed, other people voiced things that weren’t necessary in my opinion, but that’s how they wanted to play their game.

Do you wish you waited longer to rise?

In hindsight I wish I waited one or two extra days because I’d have got to meet Moses and Isaak and then I don’t think Moses would have gone for me straight away. Hindsight’s a beautiful thing, but I have no regrets because I went up and proved myself.

Do you think everyone came across on telly the way they did when you were there?

No, absolutely not. I’m going to be completely honest about that, but we had so much fun! There were so many fun conversations that didn’t feature and I think we were all made to look really serious! But that’s the aim of the show, right?

Very true. James – who are you still closest to in the cast, and is there a Rise and Fall group chat?

We’re all really close! Yeah, obviously there’s a group chat. It’s such a bonding experience that only 16 people in the world went through. There’s no one person I speak to more than the other. I do love talking to like Connor, Marina, Jack and Sydney. The chat’s popping off now as I speak.

Anyone you lost touch with?

The only person I haven’t had any interactions with is Jeff, but that’s because he doesn’t have WhatsApp or social media!

Ooh, because it was quite heated between you guys by the end…

There’s no hard feelings for me too much anymore. Obviously in the heat of the moment, you’re like… I’ve just been called thick? Excuse me? But at the end of the day, it’s part of the game – no hard feelings.

I have to ask, for me and a lot of journalists, when Sophie Corcoran entered the show I was shocked because I know a lot of her right wing views on issues such as trans right and she’s a big name in that political commentator circuit. When you guys came out of the show, were you shocked to learn her stance on things? I’m particularly asking you about this because I know both of us are part of the LGBTQ+ community and I know if I was in your position I’d have found coming out of the show to see someone I’d made friends with consistently share damaging opinions on trans people I’d struggle with it a lot. 

I mean, I know your opinions and I’ve seen your tweets on it. All I’ve got to say is I didn’t know who she was, she told us she was a journalist and politician and that’s it. The way I see it is you don’t have to agree with everything everyone says to get on with somebody, and that’s how I see it. They aren’t my opinions, I don’t support it but it doesn’t mean I need to hate her.

If there was a season two of Rise and Fall, James – what changes would you want to make?

Definitely build a lot more on the relationships that form as a grafter, because you didn’t get to see much of that. I also think people should be automatically chosen to be rulers at the start. I didn’t agree with people being able to just go in the lift at the start, because that’s not a true test of leadership skills.

I actually quite liked that – I think it said a lot about people’s characters who stormed in without being voted.

Yeah, showed true colours from the offset really.

So, final question James – what’s next for you after Rise and Fall!?

Back to normality! Unfortunately I’m not a millionaire after the show. I really want to do more podcasts, radio, reality TV – just grow my presence. I want to focus on communities like LGBTQ and the health community. I’m a personal trainer and fitness instructor, so I’m really big on health and wellness and normalising normal body types.

My one big love is skincare so I’d love to collab with skincare brands and then actually have my own company. I’d love to be my own manager, my own boss. CEO.

Once a ruler, always a ruler!

Follow James from Rise and Fall to keep up with his life after the show on Instagram: @james_allen96

For all the latest UK reality TV news and gossip and for the best memes and quizzes about the renaissance shows, like The Holy Church of Love Island on Facebook.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Strategy, backstabbing and carnage: Welcome to the UK reality TV renaissance