Don’t adjust your TV sets! In a twist to the regular format, Celebrity Gogglebox returns to Channel 4 soon as, once again, it’s the turn of famous faces — who are used to appearing on TV — to sit on the sofa with their friends and loved ones to watch the best of the week’s drama, entertainment and documentaries beamed into their living rooms.
Back for this third series are, among others, TV broadcaster Gyles Brandreth and his friend acclaimed actress Dame Maureen Lipman, who’s currently playing the formidable Evelyn Plummer in ITV soap Coronation Street. The pair have been great friends for over 40 years but, Gyles, 73, and Maureen, 75, reveal what gets them fighting over the remote…
What do you like about filming Celebrity Gogglebox? And what do you think it is about your partnership that viewers enjoy?
Maureen: "I initially agreed to do the show because I knew Gyles and I would have a laugh together. What works is that we're both very opinionated; I love an opportunity to sound off about anything! Gyles and I have a similar take on things, I admire him and we really get on. I truly didn’t think I’d be asked back for another series but something about the truthful nature of our friendship must have come through to viewers."
Gyles: "Maureen and I first met in 1973 at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon when she was in the stage production of As You Like It. She’s one of the funniest human beings on the planet and we’ll laugh for three hours non-stop when we film Gogglebox — though it’s usually scenes of Maureen eating pizza and getting tomato sauce around her mouth that make the final cut!"
Is there a type of TV show one of you enjoys, that the other really dislikes?
Maureen: "One time, they were showing mens’ privates on dating show Naked Attraction and I stood up and said: ‘I have one life and I refuse to spend it watching this’. I walked out of the room and came back with a Bag for Life on my head! That show reflects the madness of life we’re living."
Gyles: "Doing Celebrity Gogglebox allows us to watch things we'd never normally watch and I couldn't legitimately watch Naked Attraction at home with my wife. But, I have to say, that show is rather compelling…"
Would you say watching new programmes has broadened your knowledge?
Gyles: "Yes. In the past, I used to rather let popular culture float over my head. But now, doing Gogglebox, I can name the three girls in Little Mix and I can remember things singer Taylor Swift has said. I’m trying to be down with the kids. That’s me!"
Maureen: "That’s good because if you and I ever went onto Celebrity Pointless, Gyles, you could focus on all that and I could do things like Serengeti Animals Rutting! I’ll watch almost any TV with animals in it, like Yorkshire Vet, My Farm and anything by David Attenborough. I’ve really transferred my affections from humans to the animal kingdom from doing this show."
Do either of you watch yourselves back on television?
Maureen: "I sometimes catch myself if I’m on it. I've got my telly in the ‘posh’ room in the house and I don't ever really have a reason to go in there. I have watched a bit of myself on Corrie. I like the character of Evelyn — she’s completely noxious!"
Why do you think people love Gogglebox so much?
Gyles: "It’s because it's about people. I initially thought the idea of watching people, watching TV was terrible but then I watched the original Gogglebox, got to know the different families and got to like people in an unexpected way. I got to improve my superficial judgements, changing my mind on people who I immediately thought wouldn’t be my 'type'. It's fascinating."
Maureen: "Gogglebox is a little like BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in that eight pieces of music tell you all you need to know about a person, much more than a TV interview with, say, Graham Norton. It’s like distraction therapy. On Gogglebox we are nominally watching television but, actually, what we're doing is revealing all about our relationship."
Celebrity Gogglebox starts on Friday June 4 at 9pm on Channel 4.
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