WHAT’S THE MOST UNUSUAL THING YOU’VE SEEN WHILE NARRATING PLANET’S GOT TALENT?
I haven’t done all of them yet so I haven’t got the full spectrum in my mind, but the most odd one was someone who could eat straws - he could put 243 straws in his mouth. Now I don’t know what he was thinking when he thought it was a good idea to go on a talent show with that, and how do you discover you can do that? A long wait for a meal perhaps.
WHO HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE BRITAIN’S GOT TALENT CONTESTANT?
Paul Potts. He was an ordinary guy that just had this brilliant talent. Had it not been for the show, he would never have been discovered. That’s a good example of what the show is capable of.
YOUR CAREER WAS SUCCESSFUL IN THE STAR WARS AND HARRY POTTER FILMS, BUT THESE DAYS IT’S STRATOSPHERIC
It is interesting, yeah. My days are very varied at the moment, let’s just put it that way. I never quite know what’s next. That’s what’s exciting about being a performer; the phone can ring and there’s another opportunity. I’m thrilled that the opportunities are so varied and there are new challenges. It’s never boring.
LIFE’S TOO SHORT PROVED YOU HAVE A GIFT FOR COMEDY. DO YOU EVER FANCY DOING STAND-UP?
Well I dabble in it. I’ve often been asked to do Channel 4’s Comedy Gala, and I do the opening with Alan Carr, and then they go: ‘Will you introduce an act?’. The first time I did it, I went out there and thought, ‘I’m just going to try a bit of stand-up; I’ve got 15,000 people as an audience and I’ve got all these other brilliant comedians going out and doing their thing - I’ll have a go at this’. I did five minutes and it really went well. It’s so exciting because it’s one of the most terrifying things you can do, and what was interesting, some of these comics who I admire and have been in the business for years, they are visibly anxious about going out there. It’s not my full area of expertise yet, but I kind of enjoy it. As long as you speak about what you know, it works really well. I’ve got kind of a unique perspective on the world, and also it’s great to throw in material that isn’t related to me being short as well, though that’s a bit of a curveball, and that’s what people don’t expect.
CAN WE EXPECT ANOTHER RUN OF WEEKEND ESCAPES?
Yes, we’ve done another series which will be on sometime this year. When I said in the last series that ‘We wanted to celebrate the UK as a holiday destination’, I realised there was a lot more of the UK that we hadn’t visited, because everywhere we went people would say: ‘Well you didn’t come to Scotland’, or ‘You didn’t go to wherever’. So we said, ‘OK, we’ll go round the rest of the country’. We still didn’t do it all because you can only do so much in six episodes. This time I end up doing slightly more extreme things than I had during the first series and pushed myself a little bit harder, which was terrifying for me, and amused my family greatly, and should amuse the audience as well.
HOW DAUNTING WAS IT FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BOB MONKHOUSE FOR CELEBRITY SQUARES?
It was very daunting at first because I’d watched a lot of his shows and I was a great admirer of his work. I was stepping into some big shoes. He was very clever, had a lot of charisma, a lot of charm. I thought if I can get just a little bit of that and throw in my own style... you’ve got to make a show your own, and I thought, ‘I’m going to go in with my own cheeky sort of wit and see what we get’.
WHAT’S THE BEST BIT OF HOSTING THAT SHOW?
The moments I love the most are when we go off piste a little bit and the banter starts, and you’ve got a group of celebrities who can get involved. I love having a good chat with the contestants as well and having a bit of fun with them, because you never know what people are going to say.
OBVIOUSLY ITV ARE LOVING YOUR WORK
At the moment I feel very flattered by ITV because they are asking me to do so many things and things that I have no history of having a skill set for and they’ve given me the opportunity. Hopefully I’ve been able to rise to the challenge and come up with the goods where necessary.
FINALLY, YOU ONCE TOLD ME YOU WANTED TO PLAY A SITH LORD IN STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. DID YOU GET YOUR WISH?
I can’t tell you anything about Star Wars or what I’m doing in it. I can only say that I’m in it, which I’m really grateful for because it’s lovely to go back to that galaxy far, far away once again and be part of what’s going to be another bit of movie history.