As the hit BBC1 teatime quiz Pointless returns for a new series on BBC1 (from Monday, February 13), Richard Osman tells TV&Satellite Week magazine the secret of the quiz show’s success…

The last series of Pointless got record ratings. Why do you think the show has proved so popular?
“It’s a fun format that you can play at many levels. There’s sort of something for everyone in it. Big quizzers love it, but my mum loves it too, even if she can just get one answer right. Also we don’t play it like a normal quiz show and ramp up the tension, we try to have a bit of a laugh and make sure the contestants enjoy themselves.”

On every episode your co-host Alexander Armstrong introduces you as his ‘Pointless friend’. Are you two actually close?
“Xander and I have known each other for over 20 years. We went to university together at Cambridge. I’m a huge fan of his, both professionally and personally. He’s such a funny man and a lovely man, too. That’s one of the reasons the show is so much fun to make. Essentially, I’m doing it with one of my best mates. Hopefully, it comes across on screen that we like each other.”

Could you do Alexander’s job?
“No, he has the harder job and he does it very well. My job is just to tell people a fact and then make up a weak pun about it.”

The series has made you recognisable after years working behind the scenes on TV. How much are you enjoying your fame?
“I get recognised a lot. I absolutely love it when people come up to me and talk to me. What’s not to like about walking down the street and finding people smiling at you and saying nice things? But this isn’t what I do for a job, it’s a hobby and a sideline. My real job is creative director of Endemol, who make Pointless, Deal Or No Deal, Wipe Out, Big Brother and all sorts of other stuff.”

A women’s magazine voted you their Weirdest Crush. Were you flattered?
“Yes, I can only see the upside of things like that. If people are deluded enough to think of me in that way, I think it’s brilliant. My daughter, Ruby, is absolutely mortified. She’s 13 and you don’t want anyone fancying your dad at that age.”

Is there a particular type of person who enters Pointless?
“We get some proper quizzers, we get some people who just like the show and want to come on it. We get a very mixed range of abilities, it’s mind-blowing. We get a lot of teachers, although they tend to do very badly, bless them.”

Are there any topics that contestants are reluctant to take on?
“People always try to avoid politics. We’ve had one category up over and over again in the final round: Canadian Politics. Weirdly no one goes for it. One day we’ll get some Canadians on and they’ll win a fortune.”

Are you surprised by some of the answers you get?
“I’m surprised that people know nothing about politics. Absolutely nothing. People know nothing about history or contemporary art. The way the show works is that we ask 100 people the questions that we ask the contestants. When we asked the 100 people to name winners of The Turner Prize, no artist scored more than one point.

Do you do quizzes?
“Yes, I like pub quizzes. The annoying thing now is that when I turn up on a quiz team people think I’ll always do well, so there’s a lot of extra pressure. I get a lot of people on Twitter randomly asking if I can join their pub quiz team tonight in Walsall. I have to politely decline.”

The new series of Pointless begins on BBC1 on Monday, February BBC1 at 5.15pm