The Version Interview... Michael McIntyre on the return of BBC One's Michael McIntyre's Big Show
BAFTA award winner Michael McIntyre returns with the third series of his BBC One family entertainment show.
The new series will be packed with celebrity guests, musical performances, stand-up, even more surprises and games including celebrity Send To All.
Plus Michael McIntyre could be sneaking into your bedroom in the dead of night to play the jaw-dropping Midnight Gameshow.
And one unsuspecting member of the public will get the surprise of their life when they become the Unexpected Star of the Show.
Michael McIntrye’s Big Show starts on Saturday 18 November at 8.10pm on BBC One.
Firstly congratulations on your BAFTA win earlier this year. How does it feel to now be BAFTA award-winning?
It felt great! That night was so fun. It was a really nice surprise. You don’t expect things like that and it was lovely. My wife could get a nice dress. We borrowed some jewellery… I had heard of Hollywood stars doing that, borrowing jewellery for the night, so I cheekily tried my luck. I phoned a jeweller like: “So I’m going to the BAFTAs… can you like… lend me something?” So they lent her this crazy diamond necklace for the night. I was more worried about that… I thought if I lose that, I’m going to have to sell the house! So I was pretty much clinging onto that when they read my name out. I genuinely didn’t think I was going to win, so it was a really lovely night.
So Big Show is now in its third series… how does it feel to be back on BBC One on Saturday nights?
Well, very exciting. I love being on the telly at this time of year. I’m so happy, I’ve always wanted to have a show at this time of year, leading up to Christmas, I’m really honoured and excited to have my show in that slot and to give people some entertainment. It’s bright lights and colourful fun - and hopefully lots of laughs. I’m thrilled about it. We’re working really hard to make sure it’s good and better and I think it is - hopefully.
Can you talk us through some of the highlights of this series?
We have Unexpected Star, as in the previous two series but these are much more ambitious - the stunts we are pulling to get them into the theatre. We’ve got a guy on a horse actually on the stage this year, where the curtain falls down and he’s on the horse. We’ve got a photobooth, where she thinks she’s having a photo taken and then there’s a countdown 3, 2, 1… and then the wall in front collapses, the camera collapses and she’s in the middle of the stage. We’re turning the whole theatre into a hotel, where they think they’re going along the corridor, the whole theatre in lockdown - no one can move and we’re dressing the whole theatre as if it’s The Grand Hotel. Then she’ll go down a corridor, which is actually on the stage, and into her room to open the curtains to see the whole audience and not this view that she has been told about. We’ve got great personalities and great performances at the end as well. So that’s exciting. Send to All is back with some amazing people doing it and handing over their phones - Miranda Hart, Danny Dyer, Ed Balls, Alan Shearer - all hilarious.
And then we’ve got this new thing, The Midnight Gameshow, which is a lot of fun. Husbands and wives and boyfriends and girlfriends are nominating their partner to be a contestant in The Midnight Gameshow, but obviously they know nothing about it. It basically amounts to them giving me the keys to their home and in the middle of the night I break into their home with a camera crew and we perform a gameshow in their bedroom. We have celebrities that come with me and all sorts of surreal people; giants, a one-man band, a Teletubby… All sorts of people walk into their room one by one, and I ask different questions. It’s been such fun and I’m really excited for people to see it.
How did you come up with the idea for The Midnight Gameshow?
It kind of evolved. We started talking about that moment when people wake up, and what we could do in that moment. Then we tried it - we woke some people up in the night and I asked them a question. It felt like that was too scary/creepy - so we made it more fun, and more fun for them as well. So now we have some of the contestant’s heroes coming in. For example, we have a Spurs football fan and we’ve got Ossie Ardiles who comes into his bedroom as part of a question. So we just wanted to ramp it up. It has slowly evolved as a team effort. We also did plenty of them before we realised what we needed. It was a slower build up, but we finally got there and it’s really fun.
What’s been the funniest reaction you’ve had?
The funniest reaction would be the guy who woke up slightly early because he heard a noise. Normally we come in and we see them asleep and then the lights go on and I go “Welcome to The Midnight Gameshow!”… and then they wake up. Sometimes they put the duvet over their head or there will be a scream. But this guy was on the way out of bed. When he saw us, he just collapsed. He collapsed onto his back in his boxer shorts and he just started giggling. You’ve got to see that one to believe it.
Going back to Unexpected Star… How do people react when they suddenly find themselves on stage? What has been the best reaction so far?
We’re dealing now with people who have seen the show. So that’s good - it’s a challenge for us, so they don’t twig. Because we’ve been able to choose a bit more - we’ve been able to pick who we want to play it. In the first series when people were walking out of the door, sometimes they could just pull the door in so that they weren’t actually completely revealed. But now we’ve got a lot of walls collapsing, so they are completely exposed - there’s nowhere to hide. We had a young girl do it, who was screaming and couldn’t believe it had happened. She had her phone on her and took her phone out and started filming it. She filmed me, she filmed the audience… even though she was on TV! I suppose it’s what young people do.
Were you surprised at that kind of reaction?
You never know how people are going to react. No-one knows how they will react. It’s the same thing with The Midnight Gameshow, we can set all these things up but you don’t know what’s going to happen. Sometimes the Unexpected Stars in previous series have broken down in tears and gone “I can’t believe it!” and been really chatty when the show is over. But in the moment they’ve actually been almost in shock - and sometimes when people are in shock, you don’t get much reaction from them. You just don’t know… but that’s the whole fun of it, how people will react in the middle of the night, how people will react when the walls collapse. It is what it is and that’s why it’s so exciting to see the full range of reactions and to see how they will perform, which is always a surprise because people don’t know them - it’s unexpected. Sometimes people have been very emotional. There was one woman who was a big fan of the show and couldn’t believe that she was on it. She got very emotional. They have been nominated to do it so they can feel very emotional towards the person who has put themselves up and believed in them enough to give them that platform and to give them this moment. That’s certainly something that is happening. When they realised they have applied on their behalf. A lot of these people are not performers, they have enjoyed it - or they have given up their dream of being a performer to do something else. And now they get to have this moment. So they feel very grateful to their partner, their wife or husband, parent or their child - because for one of them it was her mum that she nominated - for that moment. It’s great, they are very human stories.
Send To All is also back this series. Do you have a particular favourite?
There’s been so many good ones. I loved the Jamie Oliver one where we sent two texts, when there was like an accidental text - that really made me laugh. There was a text back from Alexander Armstrong that always makes me laugh. Even in the first ever show with Geri Horner, where the text was about her doing a massage course and needed people to practice on, and a farmer that she had met once got back to her. He said: “It’ll have to be on the hay bale because I’m lambing at the moment!” There’s been some real corkers. I don’t know to pick out any in particular. But that one’s off the top of my head.
In this series-– Danny Dyer’s are brilliant, Ed Balls’ are brilliant. Oh I loved that moment with Olly Murs when we ordered a taxi from his phone, and the driver showed up during it and came on stage… That was really funny.
And also just playing with the apps on people’s phones can lead to quite funny things. I think people are still quite surprised that celebs hand over their phones. It’s hard to hand over your phone; it’s hard to be without your phone… And I think it’s hard for them. They are genuinely tense. Sometimes we have to pause the recording to wipe the sweat away. But that makes for great telly and ultimately there’s no harm done and it’s all fun and they have all, I think, really enjoyed it.
Do you have a dream Send to All?
I don’t know, really. You never know how good it’s going to be. It’s about choosing the right text for the person and it’s about the contacts. I suppose it would be nice to do it with a major Hollywood star. At the same time, it might also be a bit tense and I might be nervous… and it might not go so well. I don’t really pine for anyone. I like doing it with fun people. Ed Balls was completely up for a laugh. Danny Dyer rewrote the text with me because he said it didn’t sound like it would come from him. There was a very funny moment when I showed him the text and asked him what he thought, and he went “To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have put that much punctuation. I’m not proud of it, but it is what it is.” And then I had to take away all of the punctuation - he said there were too many full stops.
What would you say is the best thing about Big Show? How would you sum it up to someone who hasn’t seen it before?
There’s a LOT going on. We set up a lot of things. There are performances on the show which break the show up - great performances, great comics and great music guests. We try to be so creative with all the elements, with the Send to All, with The Midnight Gameshow, with the Unexpected Star - so we’re always leading to something. The text goes off... what are the replies going to be? We surprise the person - how are they going to perform? And we’re just perfecting that format. What I hope people will find with this new series - you will get a big ending - because we’ve gone all out for those performances for the Unexpected Star, it’s a show that can be unexpectedly emotional, and it’s always going to be as funny as we can make it. So if you are laughing and crying within an hour’s entertainment - then we have won. You want to be thoroughly entertained, before you go off and watch something else.
It’s exciting because we are surprising people and we’re trying to pull things off. As we do them, we don’t know if it’s going to work - so the tension is real. It is real when I walk into someone’s bedroom in the middle of the night, it is real when we’re trying to get someone into a room on the stage so it can collapse. It is real! It’s ambitious and - touch wood - it has worked so far. We’re just trying to make you laugh as hard as possible, and for it to be as funny as possible. I’m thrilled to be hosting it and learning from each show we make. Each show we make we learn more, so they are getting better and better.