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Rick Edwards: With most of the shows I do, it's okay for there to be little fluffs

Rick Edwards is going prime-time as he hosts an all-new, all-star version of his hit BBC One quiz show Impossible. Gemma Dunn reports

Rick Edwards is recalling the exact moment he realised his fan demographic had changed. "I was in the gym the other day when a girl who was probably in her late teens came over and said, 'Ooh, can I get a selfie?'" the TV presenter (39) explains when we meet.

"I said yes, even though I was horribly sweaty. But she took it and then said, 'Oh, my mum is such a fan'. I was like, 'Oh, oh, right', so it's quite a broad range now."

Up until fairly recently, the Londoner was best-known for his time presenting T4, a Channel 4 scheduling slot that was widely recognised as "hangover TV" for a twentysomething audience.

A springboard for Edwards and many of his former co-stars - Miquita Oliver, Steve Jones, Alexa Chung and Nick Grimshaw, to name but a few - the popular show attracted hordes of young viewers before it folded in 2012.

But luckily for Edwards, his career didn't go with it. The broadcaster, who started out on the stand-up circuit after graduating with a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University, has since paid his dues on such hits as ITV2's comedy roast Safeword, BBC Three's live current affairs debate show Free Speech, E4 reality series Tool Academy and Channel 4's Paralympic Breakfast Show.

The gig he holds responsible for his enlightening gym encounter, however, is BBC One's smash daytime quiz show Impossible.

And he's about to up the ante further, as he prepares to launch its first prime time reincarnation, Impossible Celebrities.

"I'm thrilled the BBC thinks it deserves a celebrity version," he says of the star-studded spin-off, which will see 18 famous faces competing to win £10,000 for a charity of their choice.

"Although I'm slightly apprehensive, because our little show has been doing nicely in daytime and then you put it up on Saturday night and you just want people to like it.

"But there's no point worrying. I really love the show, I love the format and I think it really works. It makes sense that it would work with celebrities."

The logistics? In each episode, the celebrities must avoid giving 'impossible' answers as they battle it out across three rounds of impossible-style multiple-choice questions.

Every right answer takes them a step closer to a shot at that jackpot, but a single impossible answer will knock them out for that episode.

Those taking on the challenge include TV presenter Gregg Wallace, comedian Russell Kane, Steps singer Ian 'H' Watkins and Paralympic champion and crossbench peer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

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Russell Kane

"It was fun doing it with celebrities," Edwards says of the six-part run.

"They're sort of a nightmare when you've got 18 of them - trying to wrangle them all - but it's worth it."

"There's quite a few of them I knew already, and I knew they'd be good value. The two people I was most excited about were Gregg Wallace - whenever I watch him, and I watch him quite a lot, it's like, 'What is this man? He's so odd. He's a strange man'. And now I get to do a quiz show with him. Good.

"And the other is Debbie McGee, because I've always loved Debbie McGee. I really enjoyed her on Strictly, and then I met her and loved her. And so it was nice to have her on."

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Debbie McGee

How does he think he would fare in the all-star line up himself?

"I'm very competitive and I think I'd do okay," he answers, pausing for thought. "But it's hard to say, because when I've gone on TV quizzes in the past, I haven't 100% covered myself in glory, because the occasion gets to you.

"It's so much harder than doing it when you're watching from your sofa. You get hot under the lights, clammy, red-faced and anxious about looking like an idiot.

"But I go through all the questions before a recorded show and try and play along, and I tend to do all right."

He reveals all the celebs - apart from TV presenter Angela Scanlon - were surprisingly competitive."But when buzzing more quickly is beneficial, there's a bit more panic involved."

With years of live TV behind him, however, Edwards is used to thinking on his feet. In fact, over the years he's learned that mistakes are fine - even if things don't go as hoped.

"As long as you don't panic in that situation, it's quite endearing," he elaborates. "Most of the programmes that I do, it's okay for there to be little fluffs.

"You don't need to speak like a perfect automaton at all times. Whereas, when I started out, I imagined that you did. It's just telly."

So, where will Edwards - a journalist, presenter and screenwriter nowadays - take his expertise next?

"I've been very lucky in that I've been able to work on lots of different shows and lots of different genres, from politics to entertainment to sport, and I'd really like to continue with that variety.

"But I'd love to do more science stuff. I do a science podcast (Edwards hosts Science(ish) alongside Dr Michael Brooks) and I've got a science book out at the moment, so I'd quite like to do that on telly.

"It's my first love, if you like. That's one thing that I haven't done much of but would like to - and there's room to do more of the science stuff that I'd like to watch on TV."

Impossible Celebrities, BBC One, Saturday, 7pm

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