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Bradley Walsh talks Blankety Blank return

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Bradley Walsh talks Blankety Blank return

The ‘cheap as plywood’ gameshow Blankety Blank returns for a brand-new series on BBC One tomorrow and host Bradley Walsh ponders on the latest run of episodes…

Each week six celebrities, ranging from A-listers to Z-listers, will be helping contestants by filling in the missing blank or blanks. If their answers match, they’ll be in with the chance of winning some of the Beeb’s most ‘unique’ prizes. Expect a lot of laughter and silliness in this well-loved classic. Joining the panel this week are Rylan Clark, Sue Perkins, Emma Willis, Anita Rani, Iain Stirling and Desiree Burch.

The game show, based on the stateside format Match Game, first hit BBC One screens in 1979. Memorable hosts who were big blankers included Terry Wogan, Les Dawson and Paul O’Grady (as Lily Savage).

Were you always convinced that bringing back Blankety Blank would be a success?

Well, I think it’s a timeless game, anyone can play it and it’s incredibly easy to pick up. We initially made a one-off Christmas special, but it did so phenomenally well, that the BBC commissioned a full series. And we’re now about to launch the third! It’s a show that’s been on our screens since the 70’s, so we know there was a love for it, but the reaction to the latest revival of the game has been wonderful. 

Lily Savage famously hosted the show before you – what are your memories of Paul O’Grady?

Paul was an absolute genius, and his passing is a great loss. There was something so wonderful about his character Lily Savage. She had the most cutting tongue and could get away with just about anything. I was lucky enough to feature as a contestant on the show when Lily was presenting. Paul was an irreplaceable class act.

BBC One: Lily Savage hosts Blankety Blank

There are a lot of quiz/game shows on TV, what is it about Blankety Blank that draws in audiences?

It’s daft, it’s funny and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I also have to say, the casting team do a fantastic job in picking some brilliant contestants to be on the show. The celebrities that come on genuinely have a brilliant time playing, and that really shows. You also have to remember that our prizes are truly unique and can’t be won on any other show – perhaps with good reason!

Are there any other quizzes you’d love to bring back and front?

There are so many great quiz shows from over the years it’s a tough one to choose. I was a huge fan of Blockbusters, Bullseye and Fifteen to One. We’re a nation of quiz lovers and I, like a lot of us, am a huge fan of playing along, as well as hosting! Although I won’t play along to anything I host, I guess that’s cheating.

Bradley Walsh fires the blanks

Other quiz show hosts often reference you as the host they watch and learn from – can you understand that or does it surprise you?

Are you sure that’s right? I’m not sure what can be learnt from me creasing up with laughter every minute and reading off a cue card! In all seriousness, I love what I do, and I think that’s the key for doing a good job. And that counts for real jobs as well! It’s important to develop your own style of presenting and with this gig, I stand on the shoulders of the giants who presented it long before I did.

We’ll have seen well over a hundred celebrities take part in the series that you’ve presented so far – who else would you like to see on the show?

We’ve had some brilliant names on the show and this series will see Jason Watkins, Dame Prue Leith, Alison Hammond and Shane Richie take to the panel, to name just a few. But I would love to see some more heavyweight actors give it a go – the likes of Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Helen Mirren.

I’ve asked Jodie Whittaker to come on the show so let’s see if she takes me up on that offer. The thing that makes this show works so well is that the celebs don’t take themselves seriously, they come on to have a laugh and God knows we have it!

Blankety Blank, BBC One, 9.35pm Saturday, September 23rd.

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