Angela Rippon: ‘The cheeky youngsters soon change their tune when the greys beat them’

Broadcasting legend Angela Rippon talks to What’s on TV about teaming up with comedian Paddy McGuinness for ITV’s new age-gap game show.

Youth is pitted against experience in Amazing Greys (Saturday, April 12), where young contestants challenge talented pensioners. There’s a £10,000 for anyone who can beat the ‘greys’, who have a lifetime of experience in their particular field of expertise.

Angela, can you explain the format?
“This hour-long programme sees contestants in their 20s and 30s challenge people over 60, who are top class in their speciality. We have world champions in table tennis, weightlifting and darts, Olympic medallists, a Mastermind winner, and experts in antiques and music. We challenge both physical strength and mental agility.”

How have contestants reacted to being challenged by OAPs?
“It’s really funny! One minute our young contestants think they’re on an old folks trip to the seaside and the next they’re doing penalty shootouts with Geoff Hurst (England’s 1966 World Cup hero) or being beaten by little-old-lady weightlifter Pat Tomb!”
With £10,000 at stake, does it get very competitive?
“The £10,000 has been tantalising! So many get so close – and it’s exciting when we have winners. There have been several surprises during filming! The cheeky young challengers are up for it, but when the greys beat them they soon change their tune.”

Had you met or worked with co-host Paddy McGuinness before?
“I hadn’t met Paddy before this show and it was lovely being able to work with him. We have quite a jokey relationship on screen – it is the battle of the generations after all and I think we both like to make the most of that!”

What was it that made you say ‘yes’ to Amazing Greys?
“I did it because it’s a bit out of my comfort zone – my work has been mostly news and current affairs. So this is challenging, but also really fun, which made it a sheer joy to do. Each episode is very different because the challenges are so varied. The Generation Game was never this challenging!”

Your career has been wonderfully varied (Angela was BBC’s first permanent female newsreader, presented the original Top Gear, and made an unforgettable guest appearance in Morecambe and Wise’s 1976 Christmas special). What are you most proud of?
“Surviving! I’ve been uniquely privileged. Although the foundation of everything I’ve done has been print and broadcast journalism, I’ve been given the opportunity to do lots of other things. The thing I’m proudest of is the variety of work I’ve been offered. At 69 I’m still here and going the job I love – just like our ‘greys’!”