Adam Pearson: does Celebrity MasterChef contestant have a wife, what is neurofibromatosis - who is his twin?

The actor, presenter and disability activist was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis when he was 5 years old

The most recent season of Celebrity MasterChef has seen a new crop of 20 famous faces attempting to impress judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace with their culinary abilities - including actor, presenter and disability campaigner Adam Pearson.

You may recognise Pearson from his many on screen credits, which include documentaries like Horizon: My Amazing Twin and films like Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow, Marriage Story).

This is everything you need to know about Pearson.

Who is Adam Pearson?

Pearson is a British actor, presenter and campaigner who was born in London on 6 January 1985, alongside his twin brother Neil.

After attending secondary school in Croydon, Pearson studied business management at the University of Brighton.

Adam Pearson attends The Prince’s Trust Awards 2022 at Theatre Royal Drury Lane on May 24, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Kate Green/Getty Images)

From there, Pearson has appeared on a number TV shows and documentaries for the likes of the BBC and Channel 4, including Eugenics: Science’s Greatest Scandal, Horizon: My Amazing Twin, Adam Pearson: Freak Show, The Ugly Face of Disability Hate Crime, Tricks of the Restaurant Trade, The One Show and Beauty & The Beast: The Ugly Face of Prejudice.

His other appearances include things like Question Time, Celebrity Mastermind, Pointless Celebrities, Celebrity Eggheads, Songs of Praise, Sunday Morning Live, Loose Women, Lorraine and This Morning.

Pearson has worked on all five seasons of The Undateables for Channel 4 as a casting researcher.

In 2013, Pearson appeared alongside Scarlett Johansson in the science fiction film Under the Skin, directed by Jonathan Glazer (Strasbourg 1518, The Fall).

Talking to the Guardian in 2014, Pearson said: “One of the main reasons for taking the role was because it was so moving and honest.

Adam Pearson and Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin (Photo: A24/StudioCanal UK)

“For me, the film is about what the world looks like without knowledge and without prejudice. It’s about seeing the world through alien eyes, I guess.”

Most recently, Pearson starred in the A24 thriller A Different Man, opposite Sebatian Stan (Pam & Tommy, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier) and Renate Reinsve (The Worst Person in the World, The Affected). The film is expected to be released in mid-2023.

Outside of acting and presenting work, Pearson is a disability rights activist and an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust, Changing Faces and Us In a Bus.

What is neurofibromatosis?

Neurofibromatosis refers to a set of three genetic conditions that cause tumours to grow along a person’s nerves. The tumours themselves are non-cancerous, but can cause a number of symptoms depending on their severity.

The three conditions that come under the neurofibromatosis umbrella are neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF-1), neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF-2) and schwannomatosis.

Adam Pearson attends the South Bank Sky Arts Awards at The Savoy Hotel on June 7, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)

NF-1 is the most common form of neurofibromatosis, and was what Pearson was diagnosed with when he was five years old, after a bump to the head refused to heal.

He told Electric Shadows in 2014: “[NF-1] causes excessive body tissue to grow on nerve endings causing non-cancerous tumours called fibromas.

“This can occur anywhere on the central nervous system. Mine are mostly on my face, but I’ve also got one on my hand and one on my a**e that I don’t show for legal reasons. I’d love to, but a court order says I mustn’t.”

He added: “There’s no “cure” but you surgically remove as much excess tissue as possible in a process known as debulking procedures.

“But, because the tumours are wrapped around blood vessels, nerve endings, et cetera you can’t get everything without compromising feeling and function.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales meets Adam Pearson and Hugh Dennis during the Prince’s Trust Awards Trophy Ceremony at St James Palace on October 21, 2021 in London, England (Photo by Tim P. Whitby - Pool/Getty Images)

“So it’s a case of six monthly meetings with surgeons and doctor, see what needs doing, performing a “snatch and grab” and getting the hell out of there again.”

In his profile for Changing Faces, Pearson said: “It’s not always easy looking different in a world that is so focused on perfection. Growing up there were no positive role models of people with disfigurements in the media.

“So now I’m on a mission to be more visible. I speak out and share my experiences, because if it helps one more man, or woman, feel able to share how they’re feeling about their appearance, that’s a job well done.”

Who is Adam Pearsons’ twin?

Pearson’s brother, Neil, also has NF-1, although the condition manifests itself differently in him, leaving the two brothers looking vastly different despite being identical twins.

Neil suffers from chronic memory loss and epileptic fits, and, as a result, has had to develop certain mechanisms to cope.

He explained to the Mirror in 2016: “I stick to a very precise routine and I do things in a certain order.

Adam and Neil Pearson starred in the BBC documentary Horizon: My Amazing Twin together (Photo: BBC/James Newton)

“If I break that order I start asking questions about whether I’ve done things.”

Marilyn, their mother, told the Guardian in 2005: “What happened to [Neil] was so cruel.

“He had slogged his guts out and was in the top set in everything [in school]. Then, overnight, his memory went. It was NF-1.

“I was told the memory loss happens to one person in 100 years.”

She added: “I don’t think it’s easy to be either of them. People look at Neil and think he’s okay and he’s not, and they look at Adam and think he’s not, when he is.”

Is he married?

Pearson is not married, and he doesn’t appear to currently be in a relationship.

When is he on Celebrity Masterchef?

Pearson is currently starring in season 17 of Celebrity MasterChef, which also stars fellow contestants Chris Eubank, Clarke Peters, Danny Jones and Faye Winter.

(Left to right): Katya Jones, Ryan Thomas, Kitty Scott-Claus, Adam Pearson and Lisa Snowdon (Photo: PA/Shine TV Production)

He appeared in episode 10, the fourth and final week of heats for the new season, alongside professional dancer Katya Jones, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Kitty Scott-Claus, DJ Lisa Snowdon and actor Ryan Thomas.

If you missed the episode when it aired on Tuesday 30 August, you can watch it on the BBC iPlayer, as well as all the other episodes in season 17, plus season 16, 15 and 14 as well.