Mo Gilligan on The Lateish Show and his Masked Dancer replacement
The Lateish Show host spoke to The Big RT Interview about the upcoming season, a potential cameo from Big Narstie, missing The Masked Dancer and his dream guests.
Earlier this month, Mo Gilligan took to the BAFTA stage to pick up an award for The Lateish Show – the Channel 4 series he's hosted for almost four years – and while this was his second BAFTA win, it couldn't have been more different to his first in 2020.
"The first one I won in lockdown in the comfort of my house on Zoom. I had a shirt on the top half and I was wearing shorts on the bottom half," he says, chatting to RadioTimes.com from his London home. He's back on Zoom, although unfortunately for him, it's not Normal People's Daisy Edgar Jones and Paul Mescal announcing his win on the other end this time but me and my cluttered bedroom.
Meanwhile, Gilligan is sat in his study – the walls of which are decorated with posters from his stand-up tours and fan art, all framed. "It's not a shrine to myself," he laughs. "It can often look like that. But here in the back, we have some people that have done some art that they gave me on tour shows and stuff. Whenever I meet people, I'm always like, 'I promise you, I'll put it in my office.'"
Even if the room were a shrine, it would be completely understandable given the phenomenal year Gilligan has had so far. From hosting the BRIT Awards in February and returning for the third season of The Masked Singer, to picking up another BAFTA award (both of which are also kept in his study), the comedian is on a roll and with season 3 of The Lateish Show kicking off on Friday, he has no plans of slowing down.
"It's definitely nice to be back. We recorded the show on Monday night and it feels good and especially with the BAFTA because sometimes you can get a BAFTA but then it might be a few months until the show is going to air so it felt like a nice thing to set us all up for the show, you know?" he says.
As for what fans can expect from the upcoming series, Gilligan teases that while it's going to be more of the same, it'll also be "much bigger this time", with the show exploring new ground. "We really want to give the audience at home a sense of feeling like they're in the room. We have performances this time around in the series as well, which we didn't have previously.
"We're also going to be going live for the series finale. It's a challenge that I'm still getting used to but fun at the same time so that'll be really cool."
Over the years, some of The Lateish Show's most memorable moments have seen his celebrity guests reveal hugely entertaining stories, whether it's Mel B on her romantic past with Peter Andre, RAYE on writing songs for Beyoncé or Lily Allen on how she met her husband, Stranger Things star David Harbour. Gilligan's favourite, however, is Harry Redknapp's story about Arsène Wenger and Paulo Futre's time playing for West Ham.
"I remember just the whole room just going silent, listening to these stories," he says. "When we get guests on, we always try to make them feel as comfortable as possible. We never want to dig, but if they want to tell us that then we're like, 'Yeah cool, man.' It's always fun in the room as well. We're never looking for headlines, we always want to make sure it comes from a joyous place."
He adds: "Even on Monday night, Asher D [Top Boy's Ashley Walters] had a story about when 50 Cent gave him a watch that cost &70,000 and why he sold it. It's really good. I think that for me is my favourite part sometimes of the show when you get a story where you're like, 'Oh my gosh, really? Wow.'
"Even Sean Paul – we have Sean on the show [on Friday] and I said, 'Who is Jodi and Rebecca from the song Get Busy?' Well, he said, 'I was in the studio and Jodi is my wife.' I was like, 'Oh my gosh – all this time we never knew who Jodi was!' So yeah, there are those little cool stories that we have coming up on Friday night."
The sofa chats aside, The Lateish Show with Mo Gilligan feels more similar format-wise to American shows like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Late Late Show with James Corden – a deliberate choice Gilligan made when offered his first solo shiny floor show in 2019. "Being the new kid on the block, I wanted to try things a little but different and also what my audience would want to see as well.
"Items like Nursery Grimes came about because of comedy material I'd done – Rastafarian nursery rhymes – and that's where that game came from and we added that item. We just really wanted to make a show that was a little bit different from everything else that already existed and I really like conversating but at the same time, I like to see celebrities in a really natural state where they can be cool and comfortable. We don't really want to dig too much into people's personal lives. We just want to hear cool stories but also see them get up and be like, 'You're going to sing Humpty Dumpty in the style of this.'"
The 34-year-old kicked off his comedy career by uploading sketches to the internet, with one video even begin quoted by rapper Drake in 2017, before Gilligan landed his first hosting gig with Channel 4's award-winning The Big Narstie Show with co-presenter and rapper Big Narstie. On making the transition from stand-up comedy to TV presenting, Gilligan says he took inspiration from people like Ant and Dec. "I'd definitely say I'm still learning. I remember going on Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and just seeing how smooth they were at presenting.
"When I've gone on This Morning and I've met Dermot [O'Leary] and they're just so smooth and professional – but they have 20 years of experience. I know I've still got quite a long time to go but I'd probably say I just like to have conversations with people so if I can do it with people in the room or even on camera, that's how I look at it."
As for whether we can expect Big Narstie – who has a tendency to doze off on panel shows – to stop by The Lateish Show, Gilligan provides a glimmer of hope. "You never know, this might just be that year. I can't say, I can't confirm nor deny.
"It's quite funny you say that because there's a lot of people that keeping asking, 'When are you going to get Narstie on the show?' and yeah, we talk often and stuff, it's just he's got a new restaurant in Tenerife so he's quite busy with that, but you never know. Hopefully he doesn't fall asleep."
While Gilligan has a lot going on, including the recent news Channel 4 commissioning Big Breakfast with him and AJ Odudu for a full series (which at the time of interview, he says he "hasn't heard anything" about), unfortunately ITV announced earlier this month that he would be stepping down from the upcoming season of The Masked Dancer. "Calendar crossover really is why I can't be on The Masked Dancer this year," he explains.
"But Peter Crouch – he's a wicked replacement man. And it's so funny because everyone's like, 'Peter Crouch?' And it's quite funny that people were like that because I remember when I joined the panel [of The Masked Singer] and everyone's like, 'Mo Gilligan? A bit random. What does he know about singing?' It's not a singing competition. You just guess who's in the costume – and I think it's the same again. He'll be great on the show, he's really nice. I've met him a few times as well."
Gilligan mischievously adds: "You never know, I might make an appearance. You never know in this entertainment industry. I could be one of the characters!"
The footballer will be joining Jonathan Ross, Davina McCall and Oti Mabuse on the panel but hasn't reached out to Gilligan for advice just yet. "I think it's probably a good thing because if you need advice then you're probably taking it a bit too seriously. That probably shows that he's having a fun time that he's not had to call me up."
Fans of the franchise needn't worry – Gilligan plans on returning for the next series of The Masked Singer. "I normally just get an email the month before lie, 'These are the dates,' but we haven't had any official confirmation of when, what time of the year filming starts but I'll definitely be back for Singer. Back with the crew."
Mo Gilligan joined the judging panel for The Masked Singer back in 2020, replacing Ken Jeong after the American comedian was unable to fly to the UK due to COVID restrictions. While the first season of ITV's version of the celebrity guessing game brought in viewers, it really took off with season 2 – which Gilligan only noticed during a cab ride. "I only realised how big it was when I'd be in a taxi and someone says, 'Oh, you must have known who it was in the mask?' I'm like, 'I swear to you, I don't know who it is behind the mask!'"
"It was a great time to join and everyone was super welcoming as well. We have such a laugh. We kind of see each other probably once a year when we do that show and it's so funny. It's a good little bunch of people but it is quite intense at the same time. It also goes by so quick. We're having a good time dancing and before you know it, they're like, 'That's a wrap!'"
While Ken Jeong hasn't been with the show for two seasons now, Gilligan would be open for him returning to the panel. "I never even got to meet Ken. He followed me on Twitter actually – that was a big deal for me. It would be good to have him back if he's able to come into the UK and stuff. I can imagine how busy he is as well because I know he does the US one. I think he'd get a really nice, warm welcome."
He may be a judge on one of the UK's biggest reality competition, but if he were to be a contestant, which reality show would Gilligan pick? "Love Island – I'd be too old. That's a really good question because I don't really watch reality TV. Selling Sunset! Put me in Selling Sunset. I watch that show because I like the properties and I quickly got into the drama."
However, if Gilligan isn't cast in the next season of Selling Sunset, he has his eye on a few big names for the next series of The Lateish Show.
"Who would I love to have on? Probably Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. I would love to have him as a guest. I think Adele would be sensational. Stormzy I think would be good – we've asked him a bunch of times, but he's always busy. Anthony Joshua – we've asked him as well.
He adds: "You know what? I'd love to get [Sir David] Attenborough on the show. Do you know how cool that would be? Or Sir Trevor McDonald or Dame Judi Dench – someone I've watched as a kid for years, those iconic British celebrities. That's quite a mix of people, man – Stormzy and Attenborough."
Perhaps they can appear on the same episode? "That would be some show."
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