As the series returns on Friday, March 7 on Channel 4 at 9pm, TV & Satellite Week sat down in front of the TV with the couple to find out more…
Why has show been such a success?
June “I am amazed how people have taken to it, but I think it is because all the participants say it as it is. The casting is very clever too, there is a good mix because you have families with teenage children, right up to our age group and it shows how our country is now multicultural and demonstrates what everybody contributes to the nation and I think everybody watching will share at least one of the views on it.”
And why do you think people have taken to you two in particular?
June “I think it is partly because we have made no secret of our age. Leon is coming up to 80 and I am 76 and obviously we are the oldest on the series by far. You see shows like TOWIE and Made in Chelsea and there is not even the obligatory old person. I am not banging a drum for old folk, but people forget that they can contribute too. So my family said that irrespective of whether they wanted us to do it, it’s good that we have taken the opportunity.”
Leon “I think they like our repartee. They love the way she looks at me and then says something that deflates me totally, she is wonderful. We are not typical old people though, you want to see us dance.”
June “No, you don’t want to see Leon dance, believe you me.”
People have described Leon as a cross between Jim Royle and Victor Meldrew, is that fair?
June “I think he would prefer to be Victor Meldrew, he is really grumpy. I am forever saying, ‘Now why did you say so and so?’ and he says, ‘Why not? You have known me for nearly 60 years, why would I embarrass you?’ Tact does not come into Leon’s world, but people rarely get annoyed with him except our daughters.”
Leon “I love Victor Meldrew. I have raged in banks when there have been queues and told managers they should be hands on. June is in charge though.”
How were you approached to do Gogglebox?
June “They came to Leon’s bridge club and he loves being the centre of attention, but he had to talk me round. Right up until they came to do press photos I still hadn’t signed the contract because I was bit worried about having people in the house and I wanted to make sure it was contained in the living room, I didn’t want people following me around everywhere. I was also making sure they weren’t asking us to do things that I wasn’t comfortable with. We just wanted our views expressed and we didn’t want everything prescribed as to what we had to say.”
So, how do you feel about being famous?
June “Oh Leon adores it when he is recognised. We have been recognised in New Zealand and Dubai and people say, ‘Oh I have never met anybody famous’ and I say, ‘Actually, we’re not famous, we’re really not.’ But Leon thinks he is.”
Leon “I love it. People shout out, ‘Gogglebox’ in the street or things I have said on the show like, ‘Can I have a cracker?’ or ‘June, show me your knicks!’ I hate all those shows like I’m A Celebrity, but if they asked me to go on, you never know. My daughter would go up the wall though. I said on the show once that she should be Prime Minister and all her workmates sent her texts saying, ‘Hello Prime Minister’. She went mad.”
June “They gave us the show to take to our other daughter in New Zealand, too, and after three weeks she said, ‘Dad that is it, we are not watching any more. I don’t want to hear any more about how popular and famous you are and I don’t want you telling any more of my friends that you are on TV’!”
Is it easy to forget the cameras are there and to feel free to say what you like?
June “It is now. We have become more at ease. The first time I saw it I was a bit disappointed because I thought I wasn’t very good and I sometimes think I could make a point more forcefully if it is something important, but then I realised that is how I am. I don’t know who I thought I was!”
Leon “If I see something I don’t like, I will say it and it pleases me because we can get a point of view over. I think it is the voice that is never heard, we see all the politicians on TV and you don’t see ordinary people. When I watch Gogglebox, I always say, ‘I wish they had put that in,’ but sometimes I am so controversial they won’t put it in because I would get in trouble. I have got very strong views about politics and there are people I can’t stand. Tess Daly, for example, is hopeless. Everything is false and she exaggerates her Bolton accent. I don’t mind Brucie though because he is a nice old man. We wouldn’t watch Downton after the rape scene either, it upset us so much it wasn’t appropriate.”
Which other families or couples do you like on Gogglebox?
Leon “I like the two boys in Brighton and the two girls in London, but I am not that keen on that posh couple they just swear and drink.”
June “I like them. I saw them on Four in a Bed and people on that were unkind. They are genuinely nice people, they are very different from us and I think that is possibly why I like them. They just tell it as it and they don’t mind. They have their drink and they are a bit merry, but I just like them for being how they are.”
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