The Would I Lie to You? team put their poker faces to the test

David Mitchell, Rob Brydon and Lee Mack share their fibbing tips with Radio Times

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Has BBC1’s game of bluff made these three comedians consummate liars? We put their poker faces to the test… 

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David Mitchell

Have you got a good poker face?

My face can conceal a lie. Some people have this cuttlefish-like complexion, where they go puce in an instant. I’ve never had that problem. I’m quite inexpressive.

So you’re a natural liar?

I think I seem trustworthy, so that’s a good position from which to start.

Do you play poker?

I used to on occasion, but since I met my wife [Victoria Coren Mitchell, presenter of BBC2’s Only Connect and a professional poker player], I’ve realised just how hard it is. The rules are simple, but the variables at play are terrifying. So when my wife invites people over to play poker, I don’t get involved.

Has she given you any tips on keeping a straight face?
I don’t think there are many wives who would! She’s totally unreadable, though. I’ve been to Las Vegas with her and watching her win tournaments I’m in awe of her skill. People don’t get dealt cards of similar quality. The ones who succeed are those who endure most effectively the bad cards and exploit most ruthlessly the good ones. Which is just like life, I guess!

Are you a gambling man?

A tenner on the Grand National, but otherwise no. Because I don’t expect to win. Take the Lottery, for example: even if you’re a healthy person, you’re still vastly more likely to die before the numbers are picked than that your numbers will come up. It’s a tax on hope. And I’m very happy that the hope of the mathematically naive helps to fund the arts, but I’m not going to join in.

What’s the biggest gamble you’ve ever taken?

Deciding not to get a proper job. It’s the only one I felt might pay off. There are plenty of very talented people who don’t get anywhere. And in showbusiness occasionally, very occasionally, people who aren’t talented do.

Do you stay calm under pressure?

I’m all right performing on stage, and some find that terrifying. I can’t believe people are more comfortable sliding down a mountainside attached to a couple of planks of wood than they are giving a simple presentation.

Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done?

Squash. 

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Lee Mack

Have you got a good poker face?

I don’t think so! I used to play cards at school, in the days of three-card brag, and I spent most days hungry because I used to gamble my dinner money. They were tough times.

So you’re not a great liar?

No, I tend to dig a big hole for myself. On the show I’ll start off fine: “I once went on holiday to Morocco…” but then I’ll find myself mid-sentence saying, “And then I was in this astronaut outfit on the way to the Moon.”

Is David a better liar than you?

He’s very good. His voice is more on a level than mine – I get more high-pitched the more excited I get. You could never tell when C-3PO was lying, could you?

Can you keep a straight face?

I have to when I’m filming Not Going Out, where I’m not allowed to laugh. My co-star, Sally Bretton, gave me a tip – she told me that
if I start, to pinch myself on the leg. So you’ll see one minute one arm’s on the bar and in the next shot it’s by my side, squeezing till it hurts.

What’s the biggest gamble you’ve ever taken?

Biggest gamble… When I gave my heart to my wife. Luckily it paid off. Get that down.

Why was it a gamble?

I was blindfolded and spinning a bottle…

I’m joking, I knew straight away my heart was in safe hands. Write that down too. Joking aside, I put quite a large amount of money on Brazil to win the World Cup. The kids are still crying about not going on holiday. 

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Rob Brydon

Have you got a good poker face?

A poker face is when you can hide your emotions… I would say I have a long face.

Are you a natural liar?

I believe in the white lie being the emollient of social interaction.

Can you tell when David and Lee are lying?

Well, on the show, as the host, I have to do a camera rehearsal in the afternoon, so when it comes to the filming I actually already know whether they’re lying. I do watch what they do and I think to myself, “If I didn’t know, would I know?” And I think I wouldn’t. I find that, even knowing, I don’t know. And I know
that that’s confusing.

Do you think being an actor helps?

Yes, definitely, because it’s what you do for a job, saying one thing when you know it isn’t true. Although we get plenty of sports people, weather people and singers who can do it.

Who is the better liar, David or Lee?

David. Lee will often be given more ludicrous lies, whereas David’s often seem to put him in a very incongruous situation from his persona. But they both seem to lie pretty well, actually.

Who would win a game of poker between the three of you?

We’re more crown green bowling men. If I had to bet on it [winks], I’d say David, because he’s married to Vicky [Victoria Coren Mitchell], so it’s got to have some kind of trickle down… But I’ve never played poker. I’ve played pontoon…

Are you a gambling man?

No, I’m not a gambler generally. I mean, every day I get out of bed is some sort of gamble, with the tog on my duvet. But I genuinely don’t understand the appeal, the “rush” of it. I prefer to do things where there’s a degree of certainty.

Biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

Probably when I started doing stand-up comedy – getting up on stage, when I knew I didn’t have enough of an act. I had only ever practised it at home… I’d made excuses for not taking the plunge and was doing voiceovers. So I eventually forced myself to take that risk.

Are you a lucky guy?

Spectacularly lucky, yes. In my career success, and in my family success, in reverse order. Great children and great career, so very lucky indeed. 

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Would I Lie to You? Is on BBC1 tonight at 8.30pm