Gino D’Acampo on bringing back Family Fortunes after 18 years: “I thought it was a joke at the beginning!”

New Family Fortunes host Gino D'Acampo exclusively tells us how he made classic show his own, and what it means to be a part of reboot.

Gino D'Acampo

Family Fortunes is one of those shows in the UK that just… is a national treasure. Forever producing hilarious one-liners, baffling answers and genuine competitiveness, the new host for a rebooted series would have to be perfect; more than that, they would have to be a national treasure themselves.

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“I didn’t want to take it on,” new Family Fortunes presenter Gino D’Acampo admits to RadioTimes.com. “The boss of ITV, Kevin Lygo, he was very confident that I could do it. He wanted to bring the show back. I thought it was a joke at the beginning, but he was very adamant that I was the man to do it. I trusted him, and I have to say, I think he was right. I really loved the show.”

D’Acampo was announce as the new host back in July and even just the rumours of him being the one to bring it back after 18 years were enough to cause a stir. Would he be right for it? Could a chef really present a gameshow?

Of course, the answer is always yes. D’Acampo himself is loved across the nation for his quirky humour and loveable tongue-in-cheek nature – that, and he’s a hard worker with natural talent in front of a camera.

“I wasn’t nervous at all,” he tells us, recalling his first day on set. “I was nervous the first couple of days when they asked me to do it, the show. But once I said yes and I entered the studio, I thought, “Nah. I’m going to just enjoy it and do whatever I do’. I don’t really care. If they like it, they like it. If they don’t like it? Well, whatever.”

D’Acampo made his name on ITV’s This Morning where he featured as a celebrity chef. After stripping off on occasions and making Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby laugh so much they couldn’t continue, the Italian chef soon became a household name.

He presented numerous cookery shows – of which he is continuing to make – but found his home in the entertainment format with a very successful guest stint on Keith Lemon’s raucous Celebrity Juice. D’Acampo would then take this post-watershed humour back to primetime ITV with the hugely successful Gordon, Gino and Fred. The rest, they say, is history.

Gordon Gino and Fred
Gordon, Gino and Fred in America (ITV)

When put into context, Family Fortunes really isn’t an unnatural next step for the Naples lad, and it’s a presenting role he was keen to make his own with his unique brand of humour.

He tells us: “It was extremely important for me to be able to do it as Gino D’Acampo, as myself. Because, otherwise, it would have been too hard for me to do it. So I said, from day one, ‘I’m going to do it my way, because then I can enjoy it more’, and if I enjoy the day, people at home can see that I’m actually enjoying the show. So that was extremely important for me to do it the way I wanted to do it.

“I think the way I did it is, I approached the show as someone who wanted to play the show, instead of just a presenter. I was 70 per cent playing the show and 30 per cent presenting.”

Was he any good when he did play? “No, I’m never good at playing games,” D’Acampo laughed. And it seems some of his contestants weren’t the best either…

Gino D'Acampo
Gino D’Acampo presents Family Fortunes (ITV)

“Some of [the answers] are really… it makes no sense whatsoever. Let me give you an example. I asked the question: ‘Name a famous Italian.’ Someone said, ‘Céline Dion’.

“I mean, to be honest, there are many questions I asked and they have a stupid answer. I asked for something that is spotty, and someone said a scarf.

“‘What would be the worst day to leave your girlfriend?’ Someone said Monday. But can you see what I mean? It could be a Monday, but that’s not the question. I was like, ‘Are you for real?’ But that is part of the show. It’s easy for us when we are not under stress like they are.”

Family Fortunes is one of those shows that we all thing we could do, but place yourself in the studio and you would probably crack. “I think it’s more difficult than what people think,” D’Acampo assured. “When you’re at home and relaxed, you have millions of better answers than when you are in the studio under pressure and time is against you.”

Despite the occasionally daft answer – which to be honest is why we tune in, really – D’Acampo recognises the need for fun in what’s been a pretty grim year. “I think, right now, anything that can crack a smile on people’s face – put it on,” he explains. “We have the news, which is miserable. People, they look miserable. Television, it looks miserable, because it’s all about coronavirus and death and everything like that.

“So, any shows that you have where people can crack a smile – please, put it on. And Family Fortunes is definitely going to be one of those.”

D’Acampo clearly had a blast making it (and already wants to do “another 20 episodes”), but what will he be doing the night he makes his grand debut? “The evening that the show is going to come on, my family will sit down and watch the show. I will be on my own, with a pint of Guinness and a packet of Wotsits, and I’m going to watch Only Fools and Horses,” he laughed.

“I do not like to watch myself on television. I’ve never done it, and I don’t want to start to do it.”

With a soon-to-be-legendary stint of Family Fortunes around the corner, more cookery shows, a new book and a new restaurant on the way, 2020 may have been doom and gloom for most, but D’Acampo is only just beginning.

Read more from The Big RT Interview series:

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Family Fortunes airs Sundays on ITV at 8pm. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our handy TV Guide.