'The new Ninja Warrior UK course is tougher than ever!' says presenter Ben Shephard

(Image credit: ITV)

Good Morning Britain (opens in new tab) host Ben Shephard (opens in new tab) will be returning with a brand new series of hit assault course gameshow Ninja Warrior UK this weekend. He and fellow presenters Chris ‘Kammy’ Kamara (opens in new tab) and Rochelle Humes (opens in new tab) will be welcoming a new batch of hopefuls, so we caught up with him to chat about the new show and whether he’d fancy his chances against Kammy…

Have there been changes made to the course for the second series?

"It’s become than it was on the first series. Bigger drops, longer leaps, trickier agility, the wall’s bigger, everything’s grown and got tougher and is more brutal and Kammy was harsher on everyone as well, so everything is more demanding. "

You must have been really pleased with how viewers took to the first series?

" Yes it was brilliant that people saw the series and fell in love with it like we did. We were tweeted pictures of kids on playground slides and making obstacle courses in their back gardens or out of Lego. It captured the imagination and the thing we really loved was that it wasn’t just little ones - dads and granddads and grannies and everyone were all watching it together and having a laugh about it. "

Did you expect it to become such a popular family show?

" We hoped it would, but still we were surprised by how it took off. People told me they’d been letting the little ones stay up until 8 o’clock so they could all sit down together as a family and watch it and have a laugh together. That was great to hear. "

How nervous are the competitors before they take on the obstacle course?

" Yes and they’re either nervous or in the zone… or really cocky. But more often than not they’re the ones who come unstuck! "

It must be nerve-wracking with the audience making so much noise… 

" They get to walk round the course, but when the cameras are rolling it’s very difficult to control your adrenaline. There are 1000 people desperate for you to do really well, me and Kammy are commentating and they’ve got one chance, they’ve got one hit at it and it’s make or break. The ones that are great are the ones who keep calm and keep focussed and don’t get distracted, but it’s so difficult because you can hear the crowd. It’s an incredible atmosphere. "

We loved Nanny Ninja (opens in new tab) last year. Will she be returning this year?

"Yes. She was extraordinary last time and she’s trained hard this year, really hard. It’s great that she’s back, especially after what she went through last year and falling in straight away.  She wouldn’t let it beat her. There are quite a few people who are clearly not the best athletes, but they’re just relishing the challenge. The old guy who came dressed as a sphinx, again the spirit and energy is so infectious, it’s like Kammy’s laugh! "

Who has Nanny Ninja been training with?

" I’m not sure, but the last man standing on the first series, Tim Shieff (opens in new tab), sat down with her and gave her lots of advice! "

Is Tim coming back for another go this year?

" Tim was so disappointed not to reach the top of Mount Midoriyama last time, but he’s back for another go. Most of the top ten came back so they all know what they’re up against. In Japan they’ve done it 17 odd years and they’ve only had four people complete it. In America they’ve been doing it seven years and they’ve just had two people get to the top. "

How would you do on the course compared to Kammy and Rochelle?

" Kammy thinks he’d beat us but he says he’s injured so we can’t test it at the minute. When he was at the peak of his fitness, Kammy was known for his strength and his fitness and aggression which is perfect for ninja, but I think he might struggle with the agility stuff! "

We loved the celebrity special you did as a part of Text Santa at Christmas. Was it fun to film?

" It was amazing. The celebrities were fantastic, but my favourite part was when Rochelle’s husband Marvin had a go. She was giving him so much grief all the way through! "

Ninja Warrior UK (opens in new tab) returns to ITV on Saturday, January 2 2016, 7.00pm.


Sean Marland
Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV, TV & Satellite Week and whattowatch.com

Sean has been writing about all things telly for over 10 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are The Great British Bake-Off, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.