As Let’s Do Lunch with Gino and Mel returns to ITV on Monday, Gino D’Acampo tells What’s on TV magazine why Mel is always having to apologise for him!
Are you glad to be back with a fourth series?
“We can’t wait to do it! We’re really excited to start because it’s a fun, really relaxing show to do.”
It’s a live show and sometimes you take things too far – do you ever get told off by the bosses?
“Live is what I love doing the most. I’m the kind of person where if I’ve got something to say, I’ll say it, if I have to apologise I’ll apologise after, but let’s move on. I get told off every day about something I’ve said. Sometimes, to be honest, I forget that I’m on television. I think that I’m talking away with someone I know or my friends. I forget it’s lunchtime and I keep going on about boobies, or I say crap or all sorts of rude words. Melanie usually apologises on my behalf. But I think I can get away with it because of the Italian accent. So they say ‘ah, bless him! He didn’t mean it, he didn’t understand what it means!’
“I have an earpiece, but most of the time I pick it out and put it down somewhere. If they start to talk to me too much, I put it on the counter and I’ll just go by myself. They tell me off, but they keep recommissioning the show, so you tell me. Phillip Schofield is the worst one when I’m on This Morning because you can see him thinking ‘Please don’t say that!’ Phillip and Holly completely panic when they ask me a question! They always have to apologise on my behalf.”
Any there any more surprise challenges planned for you this series?
“One thing that’s different this year is that I’ll set Melanie some of the challenges. I’ll train her to do them. I don’t know yet what they are. They’ll be a surprise for me, too. I don’t really like to know too much about the show because otherwise I get bored, so they need to keep me surprised all the time!”
Are you ready for your own challenges?
“Yes I am. That’s the best part of the show when somebody challenges me and I win! The worst one was definitely when they challenged me to eat raw onions. I hate raw onions or raw cucumber or peppers… I absolutely hate them. That one and the oyster eating… I couldn’t do that, eating about 30 oysters in a minute. The other one I didn’t like was the watercress one, a challenge of who could eat the huge plate of watercress – that was disgusting!”
What Guinness World Record are you most proud of?
“The one jumping on custard because I know for a fact that nobody’s going to be an idiot like me and try and challenge me on that because they’ll need about 1000kg of custard and I don’t think there’s a crazy guy out there who’s going to do it.”
Do you feel under pressure cooking on a live show or for celeb guests?
“The only time I feel under pressure is when I don’t have enough time to finish off a recipe because the most important thing is that the viewers and audience understand what I’m doing. So I get annoyed when I don’t have time to finish a recipe properly. The guests? If they like the dishes, great, if they don’t, then they can go to another show like Jeremy Kyle!”
Who have you got on the show this year?
“We’ve got nice celebrities this year. Alan Carr is coming back, he wanted to do it, we’ve got Tony from Spandau Ballet, the Sugarbabes are coming back. I can’t remember them all. One thing that’s good is that celebrities are interested in doing the show now because it’s the fourth year we’ve been doing it, so it’s a good show for them to be on. It makes me very proud.”
You and Mel have really good on-screen chemistry…
“Yes, we get on really well. Otherwise I wouldn’t go to work. Unless I’m relaxed and enjoying myself, I wouldn’t get up. We’re more or less the same age too.”
You seem to enjoy the audience participation…
“That’s the best part of the show, the audience, because they get so happy and they shout and it’s great! The audience comes back with their choice and the voting from viewers at home to choose what I’m going to cook. I’m going to go up to the live audience more often, we’re going to cook outside as well this year. We’re taking it a step higher.”
Do you still enjoy cooking at home or do you just get a sneaky takeaway?
“Like everyone else, I still sometimes get a sneaky takeaway because I’m knackered! But I do still enjoy cooking. I opened my second restaurant in Leadenhall Market yesterday. My kids like me to do pasta so sometimes we make a bit of fresh pasta and sometimes we make a simple tomato and aubergine sauce. Anything to do with pasta, they love it!”
Your career’s been a real success. What more do you want to do?
“I think I’ve achieved way above what I dreamed when I was a little boy. My next dream is on a personal note and is to make sure I’m there for my kids, make sure that I spend more time with them because they’re growing now. Luciano is 12, Rocco is 9 and little Mia is nearly 3, so I need to be there for them, especially the boys, so they can feel my presence and know they can come to me whenever they need to. That’s what I want to achieve. Family life is very, very important to me. It’s important to have a balance between career and family time. If I can achieve that, I’ll be very happy.”
Are you surprised by the level of your success?
“Yes. I ask on a daily basis ‘what am I doing? Why do they keep recommissioning the show?’ I was talking about it with my best friend yesterday and I was telling him ‘I don’t get it’. It’s not like I’m doing anything completely out of this world. I’m grateful and think ‘wow!’ I think it’s because I’m exactly the same person on telly as I am normally. I’m not going to change. What you see is what you get. There’s no hidden agenda.”
Let’s Do Lunch with Gino and Mel returns on Monday, July 14 on ITV at 12.30pm