Comedian Mo Gilligan on hosting special 'Big Breakfast' with Strictly's AJ Odudu

Mo Gilligan and AJ Odudu will host The Big Breakfast for Black to Front Day on Channel 4
Mo Gilligan and AJ Odudu will host The Big Breakfast for Black to Front day on Channel 4. (Image credit: Channel 4)

BAFTA-winning presenter and comedian Mo Gilligan will be hosting a one-off live special of The Big Breakfast, Channel 4's fun-packed morning show, with ran from 1992-2002 and was first hosted by Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin.

The two-hour version of The Big Breakfast is part of Black to Front, a special day of broadcasting which is championing the UK's best Black talent both past and present. 

Black to Front will see an entire day of Channel 4 programming feature new Black talent as well as some of the nation’s most-loved Black stars, including ITV news veteran, Trevor McDonald, who will be presenting a special episode of Countdown.

In addition, there will be a special edition of Hollyoaks, Celebrity Gogglebox and Channel 4 News featuring exclusively Black cast members and behind-the-scenes crew.

Here in an exclusive interview, Mo, more recently seen as a judge on The Masked Singer and The Masked Dancer, tells us why he's delighted to be involved and why he's looking forward to hosting The Big Breakfast with presenter AJ Odudu who will be one of the contestants on this year's Strictly Come Dancing...

Were you a fan of The Big Breakfast? 

Mo Gilligan says: "Yes, a big fan. I grew up watching it as a kid before school. I’d be like ‘Mum, do I really have to go to school now? This is really fun!’ When I was asked if I’d like to host it was a no-brainer. And working with AJ is an honour. She’s done more live TV than me. You definitely need someone you can bounce off and with that kind of energy and enthusiasm early in the morning."

What are you like with early starts? 

"Since I’ve turned 30 I’ve got better and last year I got my dog, a cockapoo so I was getting up very early indeed when it was a puppy. My dog’s like, ‘I’m going to be waking up very early. I don’t know about you?’"   

Who were your favourite Big Breakfast presenters?

"My era was Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen but I’m a big fan of anything that Chris Evans does. Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush, TFI Friday, I loved those shows. Kelly Brook was another Big Breakfast host. I got to meet her when we did Celebrity BakeOff together." 

We’ve been told there will be plenty of surprises this time round. Can you give us some hints on what to expect? 

"I can’t give too much away but Phil Gayle, the original newsreader is coming back and we’re filming it in the original Big Brother house in Bow, East London. People have been asking me, ‘Will you be doing More Tea Vicar?’ And are ‘Zig and Zag coming back?’ All I can say is there will be some amazing surprises, some great talent involved and something for everyone, for viewers who watched it many years ago and also a new generation. My fear is there could be a lot of people going into work and school quite late!" 

You’re used to interviewing celebrities from hosting your series, The Lateish Show. Who has been your most memorable guest? 

"It would have to be David Walliams performing the Nursery Grimes segment with the Magic Mike Live dancers. (David performed the nursery rhyme Wee Willy Winky). He absolutely went all out! That has definitely been one of my top moments. It’s great to see celebrities show off their best silly and fun sides." 

And of course you won a BAFTA for The Lateish Show. What did your family think about that? 

"My friends and family have been there right from the start so they were very excited. My girlfriend used to take me to gigs back in the day when I didn’t have a car and my mum helped me out so much, so I feel like I won it for everyone. I keep it next to  the TV at home. My mum is very proud. If I ever win one another one she can look after this one for me. She likes to keep all the posters and things I’ve done from my tours." 

You also joined The Masked Singer and The Masked Dancer as a judge this year. How much fun was that? 

"It’s brilliant. Myself, Davina (McCall), Rita (Ora), Jonathan (Ross)  and Joel (Domnet) have such a laugh. When I meet people on the street they’re always convinced we know the identities of the celebrities taking part. We really don’t. The secret-keeping behind the show is absolutely top-notch!  Sue Perkins (Who was disguised as ‘Dragon’) was the biggest surprise ever. None of us had a clue! "

You’re so busy right now. What’s next for you?

"I’ve got my tour starting soon and also my book coming which is basically all about my start in life, growing up and then getting into the comedy circuit. Writing my own book was something I never thought I’d do. I’m dyslexic so writing a book is a big thing for me and something I’m really proud of. I hope people like it."

The Big Breakfast is live on Friday 10 September on C4 from 8am and will be part of Black To Front which spans the entire day of broadcasting on C4. 

Tess Lamacraft
Senior Writer for What's On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite week,

Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.