Chris and Rosie Ramsey on their podcast empire: “It’s really bloody nice”
Chris and Rosie Ramsey sat down for the Radio Times Podcast to chat through their podcasting empire, working with their significant other and being at the helm of their own TV show.
This interview was originally published in Radio Times magazine.
“My favourite thing, and it happens a lot, is when someone’s walking towards me with ear pods in and they shout, ‘I’m listening to you now!’” Rosie Ramsey beams. “I genuinely love it.”
“The first time it happened was in London,” husband Chris chips in. “I loved it less, it’s fair to say. For one thing, I’ve been a comedian since 2007 and I don’t even get recognised in London. And secondly, it was about two days before the first lockdown, so there was this virus, she was coming straight towards us in the street and it looked like Rosie was about to hug her. I was like, ‘What are you doing?’”
They both burst out laughing. Podcast hosts, comedians and all-round celebrity couple Chris and Rosie Ramsey (36 and 35 respectively) laugh a lot, it turns out. It’s infectious. They finish each other’s sentences, build each other up, and cheerfully expose each other’s flaws. It’s why people come up to them in the street – and, in fact, within the Radio Times offices, where they were accosted by a pair of younger members of the team.
“You should bottle this,” I say after one extended riff – because against the odds, it seems like Chris and Rosie have found a way to forge a successful relationship within a very high-pressure environment.
Back in 2019, Chris Ramsey was a reasonably successful stand-up comedian. He’d been nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award and was booked for Strictly Come Dancing – but things were about to get bigger. He was prepping for a national tour and live streaming a video to boost ticket sales when Rosie, his wife, started heckling him online. As a former Capital Radio presenter, Pontins’s blue coat, cabaret singer and announcer at Newcastle racecourse, she had just as much wit and bite as Chris – and went down a storm with his fans.
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“When I was at Newcastle Arena on that tour, I mentioned her name and everyone cheered,” he says. “We realised we had something and thought, 'What can we do together? A YouTube video? Something on Facebook?' Then Rosie said 'podcast' and I said no… something I’m reminded of regularly.”
The result was the podcast Sh**ged Married Annoyed, which has had more than 140 million downloads since in 2019 – and its promoters claim it’s the biggest in Europe. It has a loose format, but is really about the couple, their worldview and the nature of marriage. Every week, in the What’s Your Beef? slot, Chris and Rosie each bring up something that has annoyed them and talk it through. There are also emails from listeners and plenty of the Ramseys being silly and making each other laugh.
“We didn’t know there was any money in it,” Rosie says. “We did it for free for a year, just off our own backs. We thought we’d do six episodes and if nobody listens, we’ll just crack on doing our own thing.”
But people did listen – and it spawned an empire. Today, they balance a weekly podcast with spin-off books, tours and a TV show – The Chris and Rosie Ramsey Show, now on BBC One for its second season – plus parenting their two sons Robin, seven, and Rafe, two.
It’s all based, essentially, on their relationship and all done together – so how do they manage to do it without falling out with each other?
“It takes a lot of work. We’re not going to go, ‘It’s bliss, it’s great,’” Rosie shrugs. “But I think it helps that we have both worked in the performance industry all our lives, so we know how to turn it on and be professional.
“Luckily we do get on very well and are happily married, not every single day, but we do have a very strong relationship. And we’re quite strict with work. The last year was a bit manic, and we could be talking about work at 6:30am while we’re doing the breakfast for the kids, so we’ve had to say stop…”
Chris picks up the thread. “It’s not healthy… So it’s breakfast, shower, get the kids to school get in the studio or the office at 9am and talk about it then,” he explains. “Rosie has enforced that on me and it’s a mint idea. But the podcast has helped hugely in our relationship. The communication that we have with each other on that, it’s like free marriage counselling.
"So when we know the kids are safe, put our phones on flight mode and do the podcast, making each other laugh for an hour and a half, you think, ‘Do you know what…”
Rosie cuts in. “It’s quite nice, isn’t it?”
“It’s really bloody nice,” Chris grins.
The on-air beefs are real gripes, although the Ramseys prefer to let them “marinate”, as Chris describes it, because some rows are too raw to go straight on air and have to settle for a couple of weeks.
“This is the only relationship I’ve had where I actually will laugh and apologise about something that I’ve done,” Rosie says, in a tone of mild surprise. “At the time I thought I was right but then, in a week, you have a laugh and go, ‘Yeah I was out of order.'"
“I still can’t believe when I get her to apologise. It’s like winning an Oscar,” Chris says.
So if the podcast didn’t exist, would the arguments fester? Chris suspects they would. “We didn’t argue until we had kids and we started the podcast when Robin was three,” he points out. “No one talks about how stressful it is; it’s really difficult. You’ve always got to preface that with, ‘But my children are the best thing that happened to us, I love them.’ Because we do. I might slag them off, but I would die for them in a second.”
The kids, however, have turned out to be the one thing that both Chris and Rosie are increasingly wary about sharing on the podcast. “It’s got to be their choice and they’ve got to be old enough to make that choice,” Chris explains.
“Annoyingly, Robin is really funny,” Rosie sighs. “He’d kill on air.”
“But I’ll tell you, the main reason we don’t have the kids on the TV show is because when we come down to London [from their home in Northumberland], that’s our time,” Chris laughs. “That’s a nice hotel, that’s room service, that’s a lie-in. You think we’re bringing a seven-year-old three hours on the train? Wash your mouth out.”
The Ramseys’ natural flow is perfect for podcasts, but the duo admit they were concerned at transferring it to television when they took their show to BBC2 last year. “TV likes rehearsals and us being rehearsed just wouldn’t work,” Rosie says. “But luckily, we did a live tour before the TV show, and we learnt how to keep the spontaneity.”
While Chris was well known before, the success of the Ramsey double act has pushed them both higher up the fame tree than he could have managed on his own. “If I released a podcast by myself or with another comedian, I would never have done those numbers,” he says. And as Rosie is now catching up with him on guest TV appearances, having joined the Strictly Christmas special last year, do they ever get jealous of the other?
There’s a slightly awkward pause – for a second, I wonder if we’ve found a sore spot in their relationship after all.
“We do get jealous of the time off the other one gets,” Chris admits, eventually. “Rosie’s doing a show this week, so I go home to the kids and she gets a night in a posh hotel.”
Rosie grins mischievously, “I do like to post pictures on Instagram of the hotel bathroom just about the time he’s getting the kids in the bath. That’s true jealousy right there.”
The Chris & Rosie Ramsey Show season 2 airs on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Friday 12th May at 10:40pm.