The camp chatterbox reveals what’s in store in his new series of Chatty Man, which premieres on C4 on Monday, December 13…
Who have you got as guests in the new series?
“Cheryl Cole, Michael McIntyre, the cast of The Inbetweeners, Mickey Rourke, Chris Evans and Jonathan Ross have confirmed. I like to be sure before I tell anyone who is coming on – I learned that on The Friday Night Project. I used to announce who was coming on and they’d either die or go into rehab and I’d be left with egg on my face.”
Who is on your wishlist of guests?
“Cheryl has been on the wishlist for a long time. I’d love Lady Gaga. I’m a bit obsessed with The Only Way Is Essex, so I’d like to get the cast of that on, too.”
What makes a good guest?
“I’m pleased we’ve got the cast of The Inbetweeners because I’m a fan. I don’t watch any soaps, you see, and it’s always a problem when we have soap stars on because I don’t know who they are.”
This is your fifth series of Chatty Man. Have you learned much about interviewing techniques?
“I don’t really interview people, I just have a chinwag. Michael Parkinson said there were no real chat show hosts any more, but chat shows have changed since his heyday. If I start asking somebody about their alcoholism or Botox, their agent would have me banned. I’d end up with Howard from the Halifax ads or somebody from Big Brother as guests.”
Do you have ways of getting people to open up?
“I give them drinks, but they’ve all been media-trained now. Nobody comes on like Oliver Reed would in the old days, though Courtney Love was quite merry when she came on. Phil Spencer fell down the stairs twice. I do worry about him when he shows people around houses on his TV show. He should move on to bungalows – he’s a liability when it comes to stairs.”
You always look like you are really close to your guests. Who are your real showbiz pals?
“Gok Wan and I go out for meals – he’s lovely. David Walliams texts me all the time. Paloma Faith’s a pal. Adele and I watch The X Factor together. But Bruce Forsyth has never invited me to play golf with him – I think he’s worried I’d spend all the time in the shrubbery looking for my balls.”
What would you most like to do on TV?
“I’d like to do voiceovers for documentaries, but I’m not sure I could do it. My voice is a curse where serious things are concerned. I’m thinking of starting smoking or drinking heavily to give me the sort of gravelly voice that people take seriously.”
Is it true that your father Graham, a former Northampton Town football manager, has never seen you perform?
“Yes, he has still not seen me perform. It was his dream that I’d play football and appear at Wembley. He’s 66, and still in football as chief scout at Newcastle. But he sees how happy I am, and he’s pleased with the way things have worked out for me.”
Your mother is a big fan, isn’t she?
“She’s cottoned on to knowing that I get goodie bags if I go to a showbiz party. If she’s seen in the paper that I’ve been to a party, she rings up and asks if there was anything in the goodie bag I can send her.”
What’s your favourite memory of growing up in Northampton?
“The local theatre is haunted by the ghost of a lady, and when I went there once on a school trip I saw her. Apparently, if she doesn’t like a play she slow handclaps. She must have seen my stand-up show a couple of times.”
You got your break as Jonathan Ross’s warm-up man. Now that you’re a chat show host yourself, do you keep a close eye on your own warm-up man in case he’s after your job?
“I try to sabotage him. I turn his mike down just when he gets to the punchline of
his jokes. Seriously, he’s called Andy Collins and he’s the best warm-up man going. But if I see him heading towards my chair on Chatty Man, I’ll have him sacked.”
Do you worry about the critics?
“No. The only plus side about being bullied at school is that you end
up acquiring a thick skin. Not that I get much criticism anyway now. I’m the nation’s sweetheart – I’m right up there with Susan Boyle.”