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Celebrity Moneybags: Craig Charles Interview

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Welcome back! How does it feel to be back for a second series?
I’ve been very lucky in so much as the shows I’ve done have had have quite a bit of longevity. You kind of know when you’re doing something if it’s got legs or not. When we were making this, we thought it’s a really great game, it’s really fun, it’s dynamic, it’s edge of your seat stuff as well, it’s great television. I certainly felt that we were making a great show but then to get the validation of people really liking it, it getting great reviews, getting nominated for a BAFTA, it makes you feel as though you know what you’re doing and you’re not completely off the pulse!

It’s great to do more, it’s one of those shows that we’ll hopefully end up doing more than two series of. It’s not a traditional quiz, the questions are clever like ‘things are bigger than a Shetland Pony’. There are great questions, great risk and great excitement and I just think it’s a great afternoon quiz. It’s not as question and answer-y as other quizzes, you can have fun with it, you can take the mick out of people plus you can win big money. There’s no other game show on telly with £1million coming down the belt every week!

You have celebrities joining you this series. Tell us a bit about the celebrity specials…was there anyone who was particularly competitive/funny?
They were all quite competitive. Natasha Hamilton is really competitive, she hates losing. Claire from Steps, who we’ve established is only ever known as Claire from Steps, hates getting things wrong, she hates losing. They were all wanted to win big for their charity. I can’t say who lost big, but someone lost BIG and was in tears, inconsolably crying. You’re hundreds of thousands of pounds up and all of a sudden you’re bankrupt. I’ve been there myself; I did Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and I lost the £32,000 question and took home £1000. No one prepared me for how bad I would feel for weeks, I would wake up in the night saying ‘I can’t believe I got that wrong, I can’t believe I didn’t want to phone a friend.’ I can feel for all of them.

There were some fantastic personalities – Tom Read Wilson – he’s so charming, so funny, so nice. Greg Rutherford – a proper Olympian. He’s got the whole gambit, he’s got Commonwealth, European, Olympic and World gold medals so he’s obviously competitive. But he was so gracious and charming. They all were! Kate Robbins – hilarious, Dane Baptiste – really funny. They were such a nice bunch, they gelled so well, and it was a pleasure to host.

And you’re in a brand new timeslot of 5pm….
We are! It definitely feels like we’ve gone up in the world. It’s exciting actually as we’re now up against The Chase and Pointless – which are institutions in themselves. But there’s no big rivalry there, we’re just doing our own thing. We’re totally different. Although we’ve got a bigger jackpot than Pointless, that’s for sure!

You are officially BAFTA nominated too! Why do you think it is that Moneybags has gone down so well with audiences?
Audiences want to be entertained, they want the jeopardy, the sense of risk, they want to feel all that when watching a game show. They want to see high stakes, Moneybags has got changes of fortune, excitement, humour, warmth, a sense of community and camaraderie. We’re together for quite a while, so we get to know the contestants throughout the week. You’re rooting for people; you get to hear personal stories as well. It just makes for great TV. But I would say that wouldn’t I?!

There are some big wins and gut-wrenching losses on Moneybags. How do you manage those situations in studio? It must be so tense…
I try and make them feel like: ‘It’s a game. You’ve come with nothing and if you go away with nothing, you’ve lost nothing, you’ve had a really great day. And if you go away with something, it’s a bonus. You’ve played a great game and great life experience and you haven’t taken away any money, but you’re not losing anything.’

How is your quizzing? Has it improved since becoming host?
Not really. Honestly, because I don’t know the answers, I’m playing along with them and I’m wrong more often than I’m right. My son, daughter and I did Britain’s Brightest Family for ITV and turns out we’re Britain’s Thickest Family! I was the weak link. I’m not great. I just don’t think I’m good under pressure, I much prefer asking the questions. That said, I’ve got a Pointless trophy, so I did well there!

Red Dwarf continues to be loved by fans old and new. I read more is to come…what can you tell us about that?
We brought the 90 minute feature out during lockdown and the plan was to do two more. But then Covid got in the way and since then, it’s trying to find a space in everybody’s schedule where we can do them. I’m extremely busy, Rob is mega busy with his company. We never want to do a ‘final episode’ because I think they’re awful. They never live up to the hype, they’re always disappointing. I think there’s still life in it, but if there isn’t and we don’t, then I’m happy with the way we’ve gone out. The ones we’ve done for Dave have been some of the best we’ve done. But if that’s the end of it, I’m happy but we’d all love to make more because we enjoy the process. It’s quite difficult and Moneybags is quite difficult to make as well. In fact, all the things I’ve made that have been difficult to make – long hours, hard work, lots of concentration – have been the best things. When you’ve had an easy shoot, often the reason it was easy was because it’s not very good!

Actor, radio DJ, comedian, TV presenter and quiz show host…is there anything else you’ve got your eye on next?
I’ve got these Scary Fairies poems I’ve written, which go back to the way I started. It’s children’s nursery rhymes through the eyes of a fairy. It’s all set in the dark woods; we’ve got music from the Philharmonic Orchestra. They’re 30 minute epic poems with a 95 piece epic orchestra. We’ve got all the music, all the words, we’re just trying to make them in to 30 minute long animated films. That’s what I’d really like to do next.