Belfast Telegraph

Jason Manford and Phill Jupitus nightmare as Nolan chat falls flat after heated dissidents debate

By Cate McCurry

Two of the UK's top comedians have described their appearance on Nolan Live as their "toughest gig" and a "nightmare interview".

Jason Manford and Phill Jupitus made the comments after their interview with Stephen Nolan on Wednesday night to promote the hit musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Belfast's Grand Opera House, which they are starring in.

Moments before the actors appeared on set, broadcaster Nolan led a heated debate about the murder of prison officer Adrian Ismay with political representatives, including president of Republican Sinn Fein, Des Dalton.

While the comedians attempted to lighten the audience's mood following the heavy discussion, they later admitted it was "hard work".

In a video uploaded to Manford's Facebook page yesterday, the pair said it was "bonkers" that the presenter segued into a section about a flying car.

The Mancunian admitted he didn't know anything about the BBC NI show, which he described as "one of the maddest half hours of my life". "So last night me and Phill went on a chat show in Belfast to plug Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," said Manford. "Only problem was they were having a debate about sectarian violence and murder.

"Murder. How the hell did they expect two tired comedians could revive that audience? We've never seen the Stephen Nolan show, we weren't really told anything about it so we thought it would be fine.

"So we're backstage and we can hear this debate raging on about a murder, about Sinn Fein, about politicians, about bombs, some heavy stuff. People were angry because someone wouldn't condemn someone getting murdered and this Stephen Nolan guy, who I'm sure is a very experienced broadcaster, gets up and says thanks to the people who joined in and says "anyway" and segues into a show about a flying car.

"It was a tough gig. That was badly produced. It was absolutely bonkers."

Funnyman Jupitus added: "We knew when we sat on that sofa we were in an unplayable room. We came on after the death debate and sectarianism which we are not equipped to deal with ... while there are people in the audience who are shell-shocked.

"I'm standing in the wings wearing the microphone thinking, 'We can't come on now'."

A BBC spokesperson said: "Nolan Live is a well-established format which covers both serious issues and lighter topics within a live environment. We were delighted to have Jason Manford and Phill Jupitus as guests on the programme. We always want our audiences and guests to have an enjoyable time."

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