Keith Lemon is just as bubbly as ever when we catch up with him. He’s just wrapped filming for his ITV2 show Shopping with Keith Lemon, and he’s now buzzing for the 24th series of Celebrity Juice.
The ITV2 panel gameshow has been on air for 12 years now, so it’s nothing new to the comedian – played by Leigh Francis – however, things will be slightly different this time round, as Keith will be joined by two new team captains.
Earlier this year, This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby announced she’d be leaving the show. It comes after radio DJ Ferne Cotton quit the series in 2018 to pursue other projects and focus on her family life.
This year will see Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore and I’m A Celebrity… star Emily Atack take the reins, as they embark on what Keith is calling the new “chapter” of Celebrity Juice.
“They’re not [replacing] Holly and Ferne. It’s just a different chapter,” he tells RadioTimes.com.
Addressing the changes to the new series, he continues: “I guess the biggest new thing is we’ve got new cast and new team captains and slightly newer music. It feels different, but it’s a lovely vibe. It feels like there’s a lot of love in the room. I feel like everyone is just rejoicing that they’re not stuck at home and they’re back at work.”
Keith has worked with both Atack and Whitmore before. Atack – who rose to fame on E4’s Inbetweeners as Charlotte Hinchcliffe – famously appeared in the Keith Lemon Sketch Show, and he and Whitmore previously presented back stage at the BRITS Awards.
So, what it’s been like working with the girls again?
“It’s like hanging out with my mates,” Keith says.
“I think we’ve worked out that we’ve known each other 10 years. I’ve worked with Emily a few times and we just keep bringing in old pictures, going, ‘You remember this.’ I worked with Whitmore professionally. So we’ve all worked together, but more importantly, we socialise together.”
Being able to socialise at work has come in handy at Celebrity Juice, which sees celebrities taking part in some of the wildest challenges – from having to work out items of food with just their bum cheeks (ahem, Joel Dommett), to guessing what song contestants are dancing to while wearing sound cancelling headphones.
And Keith tells us he may have met his match when it comes to Ms Atack!
Unlike his previous team captains, Keith says Whitmore and Atack aren’t “competitive” with one another, but when it comes to him, Emily could drink him under the table.
“They’re not competitive. They’re quite happy for each other to win. But I mean with Emily, I’ve met my match with a drinking partner. She might as well just have a drip filled with wine. She’s like a fish! Whitmore is a bit more professional in that sense, so she has a drink, but Emily just goes, ‘I’m out, I’m out! I’m coming out. Are we having a drink? I am!'” he laughs.
As well as being able to hold down more pints than the host, it seems Atack was also ahead of Keith when it came to her new job role.
Recalling the moment he called both girls to inquire about the positions, Keith says he already knew Emily had her eye on the job.
“I knew that Atack wanted to do it because when she came out of the Jungle she told me, ‘I want Holly’s job’ and I said, ‘You’ll never get it!'”
Of course, Keith was made to eat his words when Holly did in fact quit 17 months later, with the comedian saying: “And then Holly left, and I was like, ‘Do you want Holly’s job?’”
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Things still could have turned out differently though, with Keith admitting he did think of departing after Ferne and Holly – who were both on the original panel from when the show first aired in 2008 – left the series.
“I did say in the past when Holly and Ferne left I’d leave,” he says, before explaining: “But I have so much of a good time filming it so I can’t leave unless one day I woke up and was like “I’m bored of it!”
Although Keith is looking forward to Celeb Juice’s future with his two new captains, there’s no denying it was sad to see the last of Ferne and Holly.
That’s not to say fans won’t get to see the pair back on the show though, with Keith revealing Holly has already asked to return as a guest.
“I’m sure they’ll be able to return as guests. That was the first thing Holly said. Holly just wanted to spend more time with her family because she’s super busy and she said she’d come on as a guest though,” he says, before adding: “She said it feels like she’s splitting up with her boyfriend. They both did!”
While we’re not entirely sure if that’s exactly how events played out, Keith feels certain Atack and Whitmore will refresh the series, similar to former captain Gino D’Acampo, who is now the host of Family Fortunes.
“I think Whitmore and Atack are just going to breathe new life into it, like what I think Gino did that when he joined. Then he got super busy and then you get new people and it turns into a different vibe!”
Speaking of why he thinks the show has been a success over the years, he adds: “I think people enjoy us enjoying ourselves. It’s a place where you see celebrities doing things that you’ve never seen us do before. I think people see the real side of them, like when Ant and Dec have been on in the past.
“You can literally say anything you want on Celebrity Juice and the lawyers decide straight after what happens. And I say, ‘Just do whatever you want and if you’re not happy with it, tell us!’ because we want people to come back. It feels like a night out when you’re there!”
In that case, we look forward to many nights out (or should we say nights in) with Celeb Juice then!
Celebrity Juice starts on 22nd October, 10pm on ITV2. Shopping With Keith Lemon starts on 25th October, 10pm on ITV2. For the biggest interviews and the best TV listings subscribe to Radio Times now and never miss a copy. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.