There’s rarely a time when Rylan Clark-Neal has been off our screens of late. Whether he's talking showbiz on This Morning, popping up in the Absolutely Fabulous movie or hosting a ton of entertainment shows (Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, The Xtra Factor, Up Late with Rylan), he's hard to miss.
The one slot we haven't yet seen him take over is our teatimes, but as of next week that’s all about to change.
Rylan's at the helm of brand new ITV quiz show Babushka, airing in The Chase's hallowed 5pm slot. “All I’d compare it to in a similar sense is Deal or No Deal, because it’s extremely simple,” he explains to RadioTimes.com. “All you have to do is find the money and hold onto it.
“And it’s the same as Deal or No Deal because if I was trying to explain to you the rules of Deal or No Deal, it sounds really complicated. ‘Someone’s ringing you every five minutes, there’s 22 boxes…’ But when you watch it you completely understand what’s going on. It’s exactly the same with Babushka. It’s like a Deal or No Deal for the modern times, I think.”
Rylan Clark-Neal hosting Babushka
Although he’s hosted talk shows and talent shows, quiz shows are a whole new arena for the former X Factor and Big Brother star.
“I didn’t go into it as a game show host,” he admits. “I went into it as me playing the game with these contestants and that’s the truth, because I don’t know what the money is and I don’t know what the questions are.
“If I think that the contestants need help and there’s some way that I can visually help them, I will. It’s not my money and I don’t know where the money is. There’s no allegations of ‘it’s a fix, he’s trying to help them’. I’m not trying to help anyone – I know f**k all! I’m candidly saying ‘I want them to win and I want them to win as much money as they can’.
“I’m just the bloke there who just chucks to the break every now and again. I’m a contestant!”
When it comes to his favourite game shows, he tells us that he's a big fan of “the old ones” like Strike it Lucky, hosted by Michael Barrymore in the 1980s and 90s.
“Michael was just so good with the contestants,” he explains. “You know there’s someone in his ear going ‘we need to move on, we need to move on’, and he doesn’t care because he’s talking to Jean and Fred from Farnborough and they’re just having a lovely time. It's the same as me – I just love it.”
“I know everything that went on with him and after presenting,” Rylan explains. “But in his presenting years he was Mr Saturday Night.
“Regardless of what people want to say about him and believe what happened, he was one of the best presenters I’ve ever watched. I wouldn’t say technically – I wouldn’t say he was perfect – but I would say the way he spoke to contestants and punters, he spoke how anyone at home watching would speak. That’s what I’d like to be like.”
Although he jokes he’d love to present Songs of Praise or Babestation (“I’d love to be a Babestation girl, just for the night”), what Rylan really has his sights set on next is fronting a big, glossy Saturday night TV show.
“The one thing I’d like to get eventually is a Saturday night show like a Noel’s House Party-type, Takeaway-esque show,” he says. “That’s the dream goal. I’d love it. But not yet – I know I could do it now but I feel like I’ve had a very steep rise over the last 5 years, which I’m lucky about and I’ve got away with bypassing jobs to the next level and stuff, but maybe in a year or so if all goes well, then I think the public will be ready for me to do that.”
Rylan on The X Factor in 2012
Rylan's rise has been somewhat meteoric. After becoming a finalist on Signed by Katie Price in 2011 (the series was eventually won by The Jump and I'm a Celebrity star Amy Willerton) it was on The X Factor just a year later that he became a household name.
And just as he became the host of Big Brother's Bit on the Side after being a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother in 2013, it seemed only right when it was announced that Rylan would be hosting The Xtra Factor alongside Matt Edmondson last year.
But sadly it was announced earlier this year that the ITV2 spin-off show had been axed – something Rylan actually says he’s now “feeling good” about.
“I don’t mean that in a horrible way,” he adds. “I went back to The X Factor for one reason, because I wanted to have that full circle.
“It’s where I started, and I went back as a presenter. And that’s what I wanted and I got that. We pretty much knew that would be the last one, hence the reason why we kept saying ‘we won’t be back next year!’ or ‘our contract’s out of the window!’
“I just think now there are so many different platforms available for things like that that it’s probably right now that maybe it goes online or it becomes an app or it becomes a digital thing. In my head I was only doing one year, but I loved presenting it and it was lovely to go back for the memories.”
One show it looks like we will be seeing him return to is Channel 5 interactive chat show Up Late with Rylan, which debuted last summer. “It will come back – maybe a little bit differently,” he teases. “I don’t know if I can commit to four nights a week again, especially doing Big Brother and This Morning, but I really enjoyed it.
"The whole series was one big pilot and I think the first week of the show we didn’t know what it was, but by the end of it we did make a really good hour-long chat show."
But for now, he's going to have his hands full with the "beast" that is Babushka. "I’d go so far as saying it’s this country’s most brutal game show, definitely," he concludes. "It can all change within one second, and it’s like the Hunger Games. Once you’re in, you’re in."
Babushka starts on Monday May 1 at 5pm on ITV