The Price is Right returns to UK TV screens this Christmas in a revamp hosted by Alan Carr.
Officially the world’s longest-running game show format, the iconic quiz features contestants competing to win a variety of prizes by guessing their value.
A huge hit in the 80s and 90s when it was hosted by the likes of the legendary Leslie Crowther and Sir Bruce Forsyth, it’s memorable for the quiz master’s classic catchphrase “Come on down!” which plucked people from the audience to join the panel and take part, and for its feel-good factor and general air of hysteria.
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Carr is a canny choice to helm what is currently just a one-off pilot, and it’s not the only time we’ll see – and hear – the comic over the festive season: a Chatty Man Christmas show aired on Christmas Day and an annual New Year Specstacular on Channel 4 as well as a radio reunion with Mel Sykes for a live special on Radio 2 on New Year’s Eve, hopefully for more uncontrollable on-air giggling.
RadioTimes.com caught up with Carr about taking on The Price is Right and how it felt to shout that famous catchphrase for the first time…
Why bring back The Price is Right after all these years?
It’s good old family fun and I think in the current climate a nice big helping of nostalgia to make us feel all snuggly is just what the doctor ordered.
You were a fan of the show during the ITV runs, what appealed to you back then?
It’s such a simple idea and the best game shows, I think, are the ones that are simple. We all like a guessing game and with Black Friday gaining momentum every year and our appetite for sniffing out the best prices of things online or in shops, it’s still an interesting idea.
What is it about the world’s longest-running game show format that still works today?
If I knew that I’d create my own version and move to a super yacht in Monte Carlo. Seriously I don’t know the key but it has got something that has grabbed the public’s imagination. Channel 4 sent me every version to watch and learn from, the Spanish version, the French, all these different versions from all over the world – the appeal for the show is universal. The American version believe it or not has been on telly every day for the last 40 years – it is genuinely a phenomenon.
How did it feel to use the famous ‘Come on Down’ catchphrase?
It was surreal. I remember sitting in the lounge in the 80s with my parents in Northampton watching Leslie Crowther and Brucie do it, so for me to be saying that iconic catchphrase in 2017 felt weird. Although just for the record Brucie never said “Come on down’ it was the announcer. There you go, trivia fans!
The 80s version was quite camp and chaotic, what can we expect from the revival in terms of tone?
Well I’m quite camp and chaotic so maybe that’s why they asked me. The key to any revival is to keep the bits that give the viewer a little burst of nostalgia while updating the bits that need a bit of a facelift. The set is now totally modern and brand spanking new, it doesn’t look like it’s made of reinforced cardboard and that a gust of wind is going to blow it over any minute like it did in the 80s.
Are the audience still hyped up?
They were great, it’s lovely to see them crying and jumping for joy because they’ve won a tumble dryer. They hug you and say “Thank you,’’ as if I was the one down Argos buying it – bless them. We live in an age of food banks and austerity so you are seeing people’s lives change before your eyes.
Could the Chatty Man drinks globe get wheeled out for the contestants to loosen them up even more?
It’s always an option – maybe the globe could even model some of the wares? Stick a wig on it and it could be one of my glamorous assistants!
Who would you pick to do a celebrity version of The Price is Right?
Donald Trump, Tamara Ecclestone, Lord Sugar and The Queen. It would be interesting to see how out of touch or in sync they are with the actual price of things, but you never know Her Majesty might surprise us and know the exact price of a George Foreman 10 piece grid and griddle.
Are there any other game shows you’d like to host?
Blankety Blank feels very ‘me’…
You’re also doing Chatty Man Christmas and New Year Specstacular specials, what can we expect from them?
The usual carnage and mayhem with a festive twist. I haven’t done Chatty Man for a year so I can’t wait to get in that pink swivel chair and get a drink from my old buddy the globe!
Do you see yourself moving into game show hosting and away from the chat show format?
Definitely, it’s been 17 series of Chatty Man and I’m ready for something different. I’ve filmed a new show called I Don’t Like Mondays which will be shown next year on Channel 4.
You’re also back on Radio 2 with Mel Sykes over the festive season, do you enjoy working together?
I absolutely love it, what you hear on the radio is genuine warmth – she’s a joy to work with and we’ve started socialising a lot more together. Although I do hate doing the red carpet with Mel, she’s just so gorgeous and toned and I end up looking like a pile of dirty washing next to her. All the paps start yelling ‘we only want Mel – move fatty!’ Charming!
What’s caused you or Mel to really lose it with the giggling live on air?
How long have you got?! It’s not Mel giggling that puts me off, she’s normally got a gobful of pork scratchings and when she laughs I get sprayed with them like pellets – thanks God I wear glasses. Sometimes we end up in bits when we are not even on air, once Mel showed me her new bra totally forgetting we had just had a studio webcam fitted. I bet Radio 2 website was busy that day!
The Price is Right is on Channel 4 on Saturday 30 December at 8pm, Alan Carr’s New Year Specstacular is on Channel 4 on Sunday 31 December at 9pm, and Alan and Mel Live is on BBC Radio 2 on Sunday 31 December at 1pm.