The Chaser, 62, on hosting Britain’s Brightest Celebrity Family, her worst quiz subject and how she worries about ‘tough questions’ on The Chase, and the joy of saxophonists.
Tonight’s the final of Britain’s Brightest Celebrity Family – did you have an idea who was going to win?
I didn’t really. I did with the first series because one of the families was Shaun Williamson’s, and Shaun is a real quizzer. But with this one they were just all fun – Antony Cotton’s mum, Enid, she was just hilarious.
Did you secretly hope Rita Simons would do well given you were in the jungle with her?
Well, yes, Rita looked after me so well in the jungle. You can’t be biased towards anyone but one kind of always hopes one’s friends are going to do well. Out of the eight celebs on it, there were only two who hadn’t been in the jungle so there was a certain amount of nattering about that.
Did you ever think with some of the wrong answers, ‘Oh my God, how can you be that stupid?’
Well, they’re tricky questions – some have a mental arithmetic aspect to them, some are like cracking a code – and you have to work them out under time pressure and people are breathing down your neck.
How does hosting this compare to being on The Chase?
It’s nice that I haven’t got to answer difficult questions.
On The Chase there’s always this feeling of, oh no, today is the day I get found out, today is the day when they put a whole load of really tough questions in the final Chase on subjects I don’t know about and I look like an idiot.
This show is nice because it’s all about me! It’s nice that the producer will come to my dressing room beforehand and say, ‘Hi, how are you? Is everything OK?’ I mean, God knows that doesn’t happen on The Chase.
On The Chase it’s just, ‘Can you come in half an hour early, please? Bradley’s got a thing at the other end of the day…’
It’s nice not to be on other people’s timetable. But I think I’m quite good at not being a diva because I’ve seen so many people be difficult.
I just think there’s no point in strutting around, saying to people, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ – you’re gonna make an awful lot of enemies. I got the job on The Chase very soon after joining the quizzing circuit and I just thought, ‘I can’t afford to make enemies. I’ve just come in and taken this plum job from under a lot of people’s noses.’
What quiz topics do you fear?
I’m really not great on sport. The only sport I really do quite like to watch is tennis. If I knew as much about all sports as I do on tennis, I’d be OK. But I still wouldn’t be very good.
What do you need to do to become a really good professional quiz champion?
The best way to improve is simply do an awful lot of quizzes. Everyone has been doing more quizzes in lockdown – I did three a week. Everyone’s got a lot better. I’m not worried, though – I mean, goodness, if they can, then let them come after me. Apart from anything else, I think I’m much better than most women seem to be actually not minding if complete strangers talk about me on social media. A lot of women just get completely freaked out. I’m like, ‘Yeah, well, I kind of do expect that that will happen’.
There’s a decent charity prize pot on Britain’s Brightest Celebrity Family. If you could blow 25k on something, what would you spend it on?
Ooh, would I like a really old-fashioned Rolls-Royce or something? The trouble is it would always be in the shop, it would be breaking down all the time. Maybe a nice piece of art – like an old master drawing or something like that. I always used to want a saxophone but I really haven’t got good breath control. Maybe I would get a saxophone player and stand him in the corner and just have him play the saxophone.
On the celeb version of The Chase you flirted with boxer David Haye…
Well, let’s face it, some people are just pretty and I just felt that his prettiness should be communicated to him!
Do you get recognised on the street a lot?
Yeah, I do. I was at Stafford services on the M6 the other day and I had just had my hair cut, plus I was wearing a mask, and I still got clocked by people as I was reversing out. They were suddenly all staring at me.
You have Asperger’s – what the biggest misconception about it?
People don’t realise that a major part of any autistic disorder is executive dysfunction, which means people wonder why you haven’t done something fast enough. And you’re like, ‘I’m sorry, I am slowly getting my brain in gear, I simply can’t do that as fast as you can.’ For example, some teenage studio runner will say to me, ‘Wow, you’re so clever.’ If I had to do their job, juggling so many tasks simultaneously, I’d have a breakdown within a couple of days…
The final of Britain’s Brightest Celebrity Family is on ITV tonight.
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