Phillip Schofield talks The Cube revamp

The Million Pound Cube starts tonight at 9pm on ITV.

ITV’s award-winning hit show The Cube is back and promising higher stakes than ever before with a life-changing one-million-pound jackpot.

Host Phillip Schofield will return to preside over the high-octane game show, which sees contestants attempt seemingly simple tasks within the high-pressure confines of the iconic Perspex box.

The Cube is back, how was it being back in the studio and reunited with the giant perspective Cube?

“It’s been six years since we were last in the studio and once everybody started talking through the new series and began working on it, it turned into something really quite extraordinary. We got into the studio and it looked amazing. We filmed it in studio one of the Television Centre which is a very personal studio for me, I loved being in there. It was the first time I’ve ever done my own series in there so that was really quite incredible.

“In the years (since we’ve been off-screen) the tech has evolved and everything has improved enormously. I knew technically it was going to look amazing, which it does, but what I didn’t realise was how different a dynamic it was going to be with the changes that we’d made.

“You make changes to a show, as well as the huge new Million Pound prize it’s now two players, and you wonder ‘why didn’t we always do it like this?’. Playing The Million Pound Cube could be mother, daughter, brothers, sisters, father-son, father, daughter, it can be any combination because we were looking for people who were in their own bubbles.”

Was The Cube bigger this series to accommodate the two players?

“No, it was the exact same Cube that we had before. It had been all stored up, put in bubble wrap and brought back out for the new series.”

Do you think it’s harder being in a pair than as a single player? They have to work together and decide who should play certain games, do we see any disagreements?

“You do see people struggle and it’s always the same. Standing in the studio on the first day when we started recording it all came flooding back and I heard myself once again saying to the contestants, ‘don’t let it get into your head.’

“Players who are totally confident and utterly sure that they are going to get close to beating it, it’s then amazing how fast the wheels come off. You have people saying ‘I’m really enjoying this, this is great fun. I feel good, I feel confident, this is terrific.’ Yet one game down, they’re sweating and their arms are shaking. It does do that to people.

“Having teams of two made it much tenser, you have people who argue, people who are supporting and helping each other. Previously it was just me and they had to make the decision themselves as to whether or not they play, now they’ve got somebody with them. They’ve also got their family up in the seating area who can also offer encouragement and advice.”

It’s The Million Pound Cube this time but is the format still the same?

“The beauty of The Cube is that you could have someone bouncing a ball into a bucket for £20,000 or you’re bouncing a ball into a bucket for £100,000. It was built from people sitting in an office rolling up a piece of paper and then quietly in your head thinking “I’m going to get this into the waste paper basket and if I do I win £10,000.’ We’ve all done that.

“It’s built on those sorts of games. But when it’s real money and the drop, because you have to be very brave to go for the million-pound jackpot, because it’s £250,000 then the million pounds, so it’s a massive drop if you don’t get it right. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone has the guts to go for it.”

How was it filming during the Covid-19 restrictions and without an audience?

“I’d previously said in our planning meetings just ahead of filming, that it’s an intense game and I really didn’t think that we’re going to miss an audience.

“We got through the first few games and when there was a bit of a break I jumped off the stage and went and said to the team, this is absolutely built for not having an audience, it didn’t need it.

“An audience is great but you’ve always got people coughing, you’ve always people rustling crisps packets, you’ve always got someone who sneezes at an inopportune moment. You’ve also got members of the audience who can’t help themselves from helping, or an audience will take a sharp intake of breath when someone’s nearly completed a game, and you think ‘oh no that’s helping them.’ This time during filming it was silent. However, when the show goes out it won’t be silent because the team will include the most incredible tension music.

“About an hour into the first record I thought this is absolutely fine you don’t miss an audience at all. It’s possible that the contestants felt less under pressure because it was only family members looking at them, certainly when you’ve got a lot of strangers watching you I think there might be more pressure.

“I also think it helped (this time around) when the contestants first walked out because they weren’t walking out to a studio full of people. The crew are all hidden on The Cube you can’t see anybody, they’re all tucked away. For me it’s almost like I’m on my own out there as you can’t see anybody. I think when they walked out and there was no audience, no great applause it was just me saying ‘here you are, you’re going to love it, we’re going to look after you, everything will be fine’, I think that did put their mind at rest.”

Only one person has so far beaten The Cube, do you think this will change and we will see more winners?

“I think the beauty of The Million Pound Cube is that it’s very, very hard to beat. If you are a celebrity playing for charity, it’s a big risk. You suddenly think ‘oh my god I’ve got £250,000 for my charity, the risk is big.

“When Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton were on, I will say this Stacey is the most extraordinary risk-taker, she is fearless, absolutely fearless. People could possibly go for the million, the great thing is it’s tough. Only Mo Farrah ever beat it and now it’s a million pounds so it’s even tougher.”

Do you have a favourite game?

“The production team gave me one of the games called Stack from the last series six years ago. It’s the Perspex tubes that you put on top of each other. You’ve got to build them up, then you stand back and say ‘clear’ and they have to stand up for three seconds.

“I can’t tell on how many drunken nights that game has been brought out and everyone’s trying to play Stack and you’ve got people jumping back and shouting ‘clear’. That’s one of my favourite games so to own my own one is brilliant.”

How do you think you would fare if you had to go up against The Million Pound Cube?

“There are some games that I think I’d be very good at, the throwing games would be fine, some of the memory games wouldn’t be so bad but the games that would be the complete undoing of me are the ones where you’ve got the metal hoops and the long pole and you are threading through the hoops. I don’t have steady hands. There’s no way I’d be able to do that.”

We see some famous faces also take on The Million Pound Cube, how did they do?

“They provided us with some extraordinary moments. Kevin Clifton was astonishing at one of the games he was playing. I have never known anyone be so determined and so focused for such a long time. There was something he struggled with but he absolutely wouldn’t give up.”

Are there any standout moments from filming?

“What’s nice about this series, in all of the series we did I firmly believe that we have the best episodes of the series we ever had. They’re the best shows I think we’ve ever done.”

Will the iconic games be making a welcomed return or are they all new?

“You’ve got new games that have been invented because there are now teams of two. We’ve also adapted one of the iconic games and turned it into a two-player game and you’ve got the games you would expect, that everyone loves to play and loves to watch and loves to think they could do.”

The Million Pound Cube, tonight at 9pm on ITV, STV and UTV

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