Actor, presenter, comedian, singer and human hedgehog Jason Manford has more strings to his bow than the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
This week the multitalented Mancunian adds a new skill to his CV when he showcases BBC1’s fun new daytime quiz show Unbeatable, where contestants put their general knowledge to the test in a bid to win up to £10,000.
Over a Zoom chat we quizzed Jason, 39, on how Unbeatable works…
Can you explain the premise of Unbeatable?
"It’s a new format where four contestants go head to head in battles. There’s no wrong answers because we give all six answers on the board, but only one is unbeatable. That’s the one contestants are trying to find as it’s worth the most money! It’s perfect for daytime quiz savvy viewers because there’s discussions to be had about the answers. There’s a logical way of working it out."
Does Unbeatable get competitive?
"It gets really intense. Unbeatable definitely rattles nerves. In round two the person with the most money gets to pick who they go up against, which is always very funny. Basically you’re asking people who’ve just met which one of them looks the thickest!
"We’ve also got an Unbeatable buzzer where, if contestants think they’ve got the unbeatable answer, they can press it and double their money. There’s something about a red button that people feel they need to press! We have people leaving with nothing and others leaving with thousands of pounds."
What do you think is the secret to a successful game show?
"Sometimes they overcomplicate these things. I always think if you can describe the show in a sentence then you're laughing. I come on and say “This is the show where they're not just trying to find the right answer, but they're trying to find the unbeatable answer. Let's meet the contestants”… and we’re in! I’ve got nothing else to tell you!"
Are you enjoying your new quizmaster role?
"It’s an absolute dream. And everyone said they’d genuinely had a nice day. I tell everyone beforehand to just relax and enjoy themselves."
Did anything surprise you during filming?
"Yes! You could study for years at university and not be good at this show. Yet you could have had a conversation with a taxi driver and win it, just because weird facts have gone in over the years. One woman won simply because she'd not heard of any footballer apart from Alan Shearer!"
What daytime quiz shows do you enjoy watching?
"I watch all the big ones - The Chase, Pointless, Tenable, Tipping Point, Zoe Lyons' Lightning… I once got an answer right that one of the Chasers got wrong, but no one was there to see it happen! When Unbeatable came along it sounded fun. It’s an honour to be on TV at the best of times but daytime TV is part of people’s routines and an important part of the day. If you ring my nana during Pointless she will not answer her phone!"
You have a wonderfully varied career. Has that happened organically?
"Yes, I would never have envisaged that these opportunities would come along. My dad's a janitor and my mum's a nurse. My mum loves her job, my dad less so but he always says 'If you find a job you love then you never work a day in your life.' I love working and so it’s nice to do jobs where you have a great time. I never look at the diary and think, 'oh no, I’ve got that coming up.'"
What is next in your diary?
"I'm filming StarStruck for ITV [A new talent show hosted by Olly Murs with Jason, Sheridan Smith, Adam Lambert and Beverly Knight on the judging panel]. It’s really odd because we're in the same studios we filmed The Masked Singer. I'm actually in the same dressing room as I was when I was the Hedgehog! The last time I wasn’t allowed out, but this time I can wander around!"
What would most surprise readers about The Masked Singer experience?
"Doing the first one I’d no idea what it was going to be… and it was absolutely bonkers! Originally I was chatting to ITV about being a judge! Also they wouldn’t tell us who anyone was. I remember listening at my dressing room door thinking, 'is that Charlotte Church?' It was Katherine Jenkins!"
When and where to watch Unbeatable
Unbeatable gets underway on Monday May 10 on BBC1, showing Monday to Friday at 2.15pm.
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