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'Bruce Forsyth has always been a kind of a lucky charm around me'

Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow sees five classics, including Play Your Cards Right and Bullseye, get a reboot for 2020. Georgia Humphreys reports

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Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow

Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow

Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow

Alan Carr made a big life decision a couple of months back. The 43-year-old comedian had five million followers on Twitter, but following the death of TV presenter Caroline Flack, who took her own life in February, he deleted his account.

"When you first get abuse on Twitter, you're like, 'Why are you saying that?'" says the animated star. "And then I found I was just scrolling past it, not caring. The tweets said, 'You should die', 'I hate you', 'I wish you were dead'. And I thought, 'This is no way of living'.

"The last bit I got, it was quite inane. And then I looked at the person's timeline and they'd just signed Caroline's Law about how she feels like the media should be a bit nicer (following Flack's death) and I just thought, 'What am I doing on this app anyway'? I thought, 'It just affects my mental health'."

As well as not being afraid to talk candidly, down-to-earth Carr is a fun interviewee. He has all of us journalists howling with laughter - especially when he lets out his own infectious cackle.

It probably helps that the interview took place before lockdown started, so we were able to chat about his latest project - a new Saturday night series for ITV - in person, rather than over video call.

Called Epic Gameshow, it sees five of the country's all-time favourites - Play Your Cards Right, Take Your Pick, Strike It Lucky, Bullseye and The Price Is Right - rebooted, with a different format featured in each episode.

The six-part series kicks off with a celebrity special of Play Your Cards Right, starring Ore Oduba, Portia Oduba, Eamonn Holmes, Ruth Langsford, Rosie Ramsey, Chris Ramsey, Martine McCutcheon and Jack McManus.

"I know if I've done something and it's s***. I don't need someone to tell me," says Carr, on the topic of social media. "But I'm really confident with Epic Gameshow. It will be really good."

Carr, who married long-term boyfriend Paul Drayton in 2018, is hoping that one of the game shows gets commissioned for its own full series. "I'd love Play Your Cards Right. The audience were just going crazy for that. It is just turning the cards over, I know it's so simple, but it just works."

Each of the retro programmes has been updated for modern audiences with a new, exciting endgame; in fact, Carr describes part four of each episode of Epic Gameshow as "mental".

"It all goes like steroids and LSD. It just gets super-sized and the prize money is like £50,000. You know, big prizes!

"Some of these people are expecting a kid, they're newlyweds, so the casting is brilliant. Your heart really goes out to them."

Play Your Cards Right, which first aired in the Eighties, was memorably presented by Sir Bruce Forsyth who died in August 2017, aged 89 (he also hosted The Price Is Right in the Nineties). Is it worrying for Carr to be stepping into Sir Bruce's shoes?

"Well, it is, really. It's so in your bloodstream, in your DNA, that I found myself going, 'Good game, good game, didn't they do well'?"

"And then you're like, 'Oh no, not only are you doing his show, you're taking the mickey out of him, and he's died'. But that's not you being rude, it's just because we've all watched him.

"I feel like the rose-tinted glasses are going to help me, in a way. People are going to start going, 'Oh, Brucie', but, go back and watch some of the older ones, and I think you'll be surprised, and you'll see they're better for having a bit of a zhuzh and getting rid of some of the casual sexism and racism. You know, might be a bit better."

Asked if he ever met Sir Bruce, Carr reveals that the beloved entertainer was the first-ever guest on Chatty Man, which ran on Channel 4 from 2009 until 2016.

"Then, during the week, the phone rang, didn't recognise the number, I thought it was PPI, didn't pick up. And then he's like, 'Hello Alan, I loved being on Chatty Man, you've got a hit on your hands there'.

"I was like, 'Oh my God!' I couldn't believe it. And I kept (the voicemail) on my phone until I lost my phone. So, he's sort of been a bit of a lucky charm for me."

Pondering whether he misses hosting a chat show, he sounds genuinely unsure of how he feels.

"I do and I don't. I see people like (American rapper) Cardi B and I'm like, 'Oh my God, I would love to have her on Chatty Man'!

"But, when you're doing a chat show, you're always up against Graham Norton, who has the pick of the best - and then you've just got to really hope and pray that people have a good time."

Epic Gameshow, ITV, Saturday, 8.15pm

Belfast Telegraph