Jonathan Ross: 'Flattery helps during a tricky interview!'

The king of chat is back with a new series of The Jonathan Ross Show.  Jonathan talks to What’s on TV about his Tom Jones connection, an upcoming James Bond exclusive, and how to save a tricky interview…

Who can we expect on the new show?

"On the first show I’ve got Vin Diesel, Jessica Ennis-Hill, and the legendary and controversial Tom Jones! Later in the series I’ve Darcey Bushell, Martin Clunes, David Attenborough and Bob Geldof. I’ve got other big name guests, but can’t reveal who. One has never been interviewed on a talk show before!"

You and Tom Jones go way back…

"Yes, to 1987 when he appeared on my chat show, The Last Resort. He helped put that show on the map and we helped acquaint him with a new, younger audience when he performed Prince’s Kiss. He’s said I helped revive his career, but frankly I don’t think he gives me enough credit! I love Tom, he’s a great interview. As a man of a certain age some of his recent comments are controversial, but I think that’s what men from his generation think. It’s wrong to beat him up too much. He’s singing as well."

Will you have sensitive interviews like last year’s chat with Lily Allen?

"I’ve a lovely and powerful one with comic actor Nick Frost about how he tried to commit suicide as a kid when his dad’s business went bust. It’s very personal. Last year Lily talked about the death of her stillborn child. She told me afterwards she was happy with the interview. Certain things are upsetting but healthy to share, for themselves and others."

Have you ever asked a question and instantly regretted it?

"Thousands of times. It’s usually off the cuff. I once asked a famous British actor in her late 70s who’d recently lost her husband if she was enjoying being footloose and fancy free. As soon as I said it I knew it was the wrong phrase. But you’ve to bite the bullet and carry on. I apologised afterwards and she was fine about it, fortunately!"

What are your techniques for tricky interviewees?

"Flattery helps. If you can dress up genuine admiration in even more flattering terms, it often really opens doors. It’s about respect and showing you like their work. We also have booze and food backstage. People are generally nervous before the show and don’t drink too, knowing it will be seen by millions. Occasionally someone gets delightfully drunk. The IT Crowd’s Chris O’Dowd was loveably drunk once. It was like having a hyperactive child on set! But that’s the exception, rather than the rule."

How was it to exclusively interview Daniel Craig for your one-off special, James Bond’s Spectre with Jonathan Ross (ITV, Sunday)?

"It was great! Daniel seems more comfortable being Bond than I’ve ever seen him. It’s because Skyfall was such a hit, he loves working with director Sam Mendes, and feels confident about Spectre. I’ve dropped a few hints I should be the next Moneypenny and Helen Mirren should be my Bond!"

Are you in your prefect job?

"The perfect job for me is lying at home in soft, elasticated trousers, but the problem is no one wants to pay me for it. So this probably is my prefect job. The longer I do it the more I appreciate it. It’s enormous fun, challenging and competitive. Every year I get another lease of life and I feel very grateful. I try to keep it fresh and make sure I don’t completely blow the opportunity of getting good material when I interview someone."

The Jonathan Ross Show starts on Saturday, October 17 at 10.15pm, ITV.


Elaine Reilly
Writer for TV Times, What’s On TV, TV & Satellite Week and What To Watch

With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.


As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast. 

After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.