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Beat the Chasers newcomer Issa Schultz reveals why 'Nerds are the new cool!'

Issa Schultz Beat the Chasers
Issa Schultz has joined Beat the Chasers for a guest stint. (Image credit: ITV)

He's an Australian quiz show champion with a penchant for natty bow ties, and now Issa Schultz is set to become a household name in the UK too as a new brainbox on ITV’s hit spin-off series Beat the Chasers season 5

Since 2015, Issa has been a regular star on The Chase Australia, where he’s affectionately known as The Supernerd. And when UK Chaser Anne Hegerty AKA The Governess, who he works with on the Oz version, caught COVID-19 just before filming was set to begin on series five of Beat the Chasers, Issa got an important call… 

"When it’s 1am in Oz and you’re thinking of going to bed, the last thing you expect is a call telling you to get on a plane to the UK in eight hours' time," says Issa, 38, as he joins What To Watch for an exclusive video interview to chat about landing his 'dream' role. 

"I'm still pinching myself. Ideally, I'd have been brought over to England under different circumstances, but they needed the seat to be filled urgently. I’ve been told I 'saved the day', but I’m just glad I could step in."

Here, Issa – who was born in St Austell, Cornwall, before moving to Australia as a child – reveals what viewers can expect from the newest Chaser on the block…

Welcome back to the UK, Issa! Sounds like you had a mad dash to get here…

"I did, and landing on the first day of filming was peculiar. I’d hoped I could squeeze in a quick nap, but we had to sort outfits and do rehearsals to test whether I gelled with [host] Bradley Walsh and the crew, and then we went straight into filming. I guess the adrenaline kept me going. I certainly crashed into bed at the end of that first day, I can assure you!"

Anne Hegerty on Beat the Chasers

Issa is filling in for show favourite Anne Hegerty, who tested positive for Covid-19. (Image credit: ITV)

How do you feel about stepping in for Anne?

"I’ve worked with Anne since 2015 when The Chase Australia started. As The Governess, Anne is a terrifying woman, with massive shoes to fill. Everyone was so supportive of me joining Beat the Chasers, but Anne was the most supportive, sending me lovely messages."

Have you enjoyed working with Bradley?

"I was most nervous about meeting Bradley. The disadvantage I had was that all the other Chasers have built up a relationship with each other and with Bradley – he didn’t know my personality or my jokes. So I thought that was going to be a challenge, but he was just so nice. After day two of filming, he said to me, ‘You’re a star, mate!’ And, by the end, he was calling me ‘nerdy boy’ and gave me a signed book, which I’ll treasure always."

Beat the Chasers and host Bradley Walsh

Issa alongside his fellow Chasers and host Bradley Walsh. (Image credit: ITV)

This show sees hopefuls take on two or more Chasers at once, rather than just one like in The Chase. How did you find joining forces with the others?

"We did a lot of practice quizzing in Paul Sinha’s [AKA The Sinnerman] dressing room and, on set, I sat on the end next to Shaun Wallace [AKA The Dark Destroyer], who’s the nicest man you could ever meet. Every time I made a mistake, he’d nudge me and say, ‘Don’t worry, you’re doing great.’ You want that reassurance. It’s like being the new boy in school – no one wants to be the kid no one likes!"

Issa Schultz and the gang on Beat the Chasers

Issa (far right) takes his seat next to 'nicest man you could ever meet' Shaun Wallace. (Image credit: ITV)

How does the Australian show differ to the UK version of The Chase?

"On the UK version, everyone’s very serious and stern, whereas there tends to be more banter on the Australian version. We’ve done one season of Beat the Chasers in Oz so far. We filmed it after one of our lockdowns had lifted and when people won money, everyone went bonkers – even us Chasers and we’re trying NOT to give money away!"

So, what can viewers expect from The Supernerd?

"What, other than an Aussie accent? Well, I don’t really do stern and mean, that’s not my style. In Australia, The Supernerd character isn’t like that – his slogan is: ‘He’ll defeat you, but with a smile’. I’ve been a quiz contestant who’s won money, so I know how it feels to be in their shoes and I usually want them to win.

"I was a bit resistant to it at first but soon people were shouting out, ‘Supernerd!’, at me in the street, so now I’m rather fond of it. Nerds are the new cool and I am actually quite nerdy. On the rare occasion I’m not quizzing, I’m the type who stays indoors reading and playing video games."

We love your trademark bow ties!

"You’ll definitely see me wearing a bow tie on Beat the Chasers. I reckon I have about 40 bow ties now because viewers have always kindly sent them in. I’ve got wooden ones, various different colours, a Nintendo one and a tartan one, which I wore for Beat the Chasers Australia."

Issa Schultz on Beat the Chasers

Issa has amassed quite the collection of bow ties since appearing on The Chase in Oz. (Image credit: ITV)

Can you tell us more about your background?

"I was born in Cornwall and my whole family moved to Australia in 1995. At 25, I won $200,000 on a quiz show in Australia that changed my life. I landed The Chase Australia at 30, and now, at 38, I’m here in the UK doing Beat the Chasers. I’ve had a lot of luck."

Finally, what is it you love about quizzes?

"There’s a real sense of satisfaction when you’re asked a question and you know the answer. I’d say I’m an introvert with a small circle of friends, but when I quiz with those friends and get answers right, I feel happy and a sense of self worth. It’s a wonderful feeling. My mission is to become the number one quizzer – I want to be the best in the world!"

Beat the Chasers returns on Monday, May 16, showing all week at 9pm on ITV.

Victoria Wilson
Victoria Wilson

With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for WhatToWatch.com, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!