Gogglebox: Leon and June on celebrity, their ancient armchairs and who should present Strictly

"We’ve had the same recliners for about 14 years and seeing them on the television I think we should maybe get some new ones"

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Gogglebox: Leon and June on celebrity, their ancient armchairs  and who should present Strictly
Written By
Alexia Skinitis

How did you come to be on Gogglebox?

June Two young women from the production company went to Leon’s bridge club, and he got talking to them. I’m not sure whether it was the idea of the programme or the ladies that made it an attractive proposition for him...

Leon It was a long time ago now, but we talked about what the show would involve and then they asked if we might be interested. I liked them and they liked me, obviously!

What do you enjoy about being on the show?

June It’s very flattering, being in your 70s and being asked to participate in a show and learning how it all works behind the scenes. It’s way beyond our normal life.

How much TV do you have to watch?

June I would say a minimum of 12 hours over two or three days. The production crew come round and have a cup of tea, which is nice because we like having guests. They set up the cameras and then leave the room. So they’re next door when we’re being filmed and it’s not intrusive at all.

Are you conscious of the cameras?

June At first we were, but not as much as time has gone on. We’re more relaxed this series.

Leon I always say what I like!

June It’s been suggested that the show is scripted – believe me, if you knew Leon you’d know that just isn’t possible! If they asked him to say something, he’d say the opposite.

Leon I have firm views on politics and people and I will say what I believe. I’m not shy at all, am I?

June No, he’s not shy. It’s more or less anything goes as long as you’re not upsetting anyone.

Leon My daughter isn’t always pleased. She doesn’t like it when I’m rude. You know the one when I mentioned June’s knicks? She didn’t like that.

Can you ask the production team to cut out anything you’re not comfortable with?

Leon I sometimes say things... but generally June gets them cut out if they upset her. She’ll say, “Don’t put that in.”

June They’re very good at listening to us. We’d have said if we weren’t happy with the way we come across but we’ve never needed to do that.

Leon And we’ve got a beautiful blonde producer!

Did you have any concerns about being part of the programme?

June Yes, I was very reticent. I felt, “Do I really want the whole nation looking into my living room?” But to be honest I didn’t think it would take off. It seemed such a simple idea – who wants to watch people watching TV? I’m amazed. This morning, my grandson was meeting his friends and we happened to be round the corner having coffee and they came and joined us! These young people were saying, “Can we have a picture with you?”

Do we get a real glimpse into your living room or have you changed things since the show started?

June We’ve had the same recliners for about 14 years and seeing them on the television I think we should maybe get some new ones.

Leon But they’re so comfortable!

Do you watch yourselves?

June Yes, but it was very odd at first. I thought “Do I look like that? Do I sound like that?”

Leon But we love it!

June  Leon loves watching himself. And it’s quite interesting because we’ve never met any of the other cast – although we’re beginning to feel they’re close friends now.

If you had to do a sofa swap, which Gogglebox family would it be with?

June That is a really difficult question...

Leon The two girls in Brixton! They’re so funny.

June And they’re always eating kebabs.

What do you most enjoy watching?

Leon We thought The Crimson Field was excellent. I taught history and that period was my speciality. I thought it was very accurate.

June We always watch period dramas, although I fell out with Downton Abbey after the rape scene. I felt it wasn’t quite in the right context.

Leon I like my soaps, Emmerdale and Coronation Street. The Hayley episode...

June That was particularly well done. I found that extremely difficult to watch but it had been researched in detail and it was acted superbly. And we like quizzes, like Pointless.

Leon And Countdown! I like Rachel.

June Why’s that Leon?

Leon Do I have to spell it out?

Are there any TV personalities you don’t like?

Leon I can’t stand Ant and Dec. They’re not song and dance men, they’re not comedians – they’ve done very well with no talent. Even I could do a better job. And Tess Daly...

June But we’re sad Bruce Forsyth has gone. I think the show will be worse without him.

Who would you like to present Strictly?

June I wondered whether Anton Du Beke might do it. I’d like somebody knowledgeable. Leon I’d love to! I’m not a bad dancer...

June Dreadful.

Leon Oh, shut up, June! I’m not bad at all. We were members of the Cavern in Liverpool in the 1950s, when it was traditional jazz and skiffle.

How long have you been together?

June We’ve been married 54 years in August; we met five years before at teacher training college.

Did you watch Educating Yorkshire?

June Yes, I loved it. If Gogglebox wasn’t also nominated for the Radio Times Audience Award I’d vote for that! We both identified with lots of the problems the teachers encountered.

Leon I taught in a lot of deprived areas and it was very true to our experience. June is also a fan of The Great British Bake Off.

Don’t you enjoy a enjoy a bit of baking too?

Leon Oh I can cook. I did a cookery course for men. I could cook dinner.

June You can dance, you can cook...

Leon And make love – what else do you want?

Gogglebox is nominated for the Radio Times Audience Award at this year's TV Baftas. 


It’s up to you to decide the Radio Times Audience Award from the six TV shows shortlisted (Breaking Bad, Broadchurch, Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor, Educating Yorkshire, Gogglebox, The Great British Bake Off). Voting closes 12 noon, 15 May. The British Academy Television Awards are held on 18 May. Vote online at radiotimes.com/bafta


 


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