Pointless star Richard Osman explains why C4’s Child Genius is a good thing for clever kids
Pointless star Richard Osman is the new host of C4’s Child Genius. In a chat with What’s on TV he reveals his new job is a childhood dream come true and a positive experience all-round…
Were you a fan of Child Genius before agreeing to take over as quizmaster? "I love Child Genius. I was absolutely delighted when I was asked to host it and make it a little bit different. It’s still very much a documentary about a competition but also I got to chat backstage and have a laugh with the families. When you’re asked to get involved in a show you love, you have to say yes!"
Were any of the kids competing to be crowned champion of this Mensa-run competition fans of Pointless? "Yes, lots of them. But they soon got over the fact it was me after about five minutes! That’s the nice thing about Pointless, it appeals to all ages."
Have you enjoyed working with the children on this? "It’s brilliant. That’s my favourite thing about it. They’re amazing kids and it's such a treat. It’s scary stepping onto the podium by themselves so I made sure beforehand we all sat down and chatted and had a laugh."
Are they super competitive? "They get on really well and really looked after each other. Yes when they’re quizzing it’s a proper competition, but the second they’re off, they leg it down the corridor with each other, shouting their heads off. It’s really lovely."
One of the main criticisms of Child Genius in the past was in relation to pushy parents. What do you think about that? "I don’t really believe in the whole pushy parent thing. You can only push kids to do something they want to do. If the kids weren’t interested they wouldn’t have gotten through to the final 16. You do get some families where parents are very ambitious for their kids, but the kids can be ambitious as well. When the parents want it but the kids don’t, that never works."
Do you think you’d have liked to compete in Child Genius if it had been around when you were growing up? "I would have relished it and loved to have a go. I don’t think I would have done particularly well… but to have the opportunity to have a crack at it, and meet other kids interested in the same things, it would have to be a positive experience."
What other positives do you think come out of the show? "It’s hard at 10, 11 and 12… it’s the age you start getting self-conscious about being interested in school and wanting to learn. Some kids can shut down, pretend they’re not clever, go to the back of the class and keep their heads down. That’s a real shame. It would be great it some kids watching Child Genius end up thinking, you know what, it’s okay to have my head in a book.
"Children who love playing football and are good at playing football – the thing they want to do most of all is play competitively and win competitions. And we encourage it, and rightly so. But you don’t get that so much for quizzes.
"I like the fact Child Genius is a celebration. I tried to say to these kids, this is a gift, have fun with it, use it for good, and don’t let people tell you you’re different, odd or weird because you have this ability. Of course it gets competitive but I wanted them to enjoy the experience."
The new series of Child Genius begins on C4 at 8pm on Tuesday 12th July.
What’s on TV tip: Keep an eye out for Mog, 12, from Rugby who entered himself into the competition, and Sophia, 11, from North London… She’s being coached by her brother Curtis, who competed in Child Genius two years ago!
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