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Behind the scenes of Chris Tarrant’s career | Celebrity News | Showbiz & TV



Chris Tarrant, a teacher-turned-TV-newsman (Image: Getty)

The morning after the first episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? transmitted on 4th September 1998, a lorry-driver spotted Chris Tarrant walking through Wembley and cheerfully hollered, “Oi, Chris, phone a friend?”

Twenty-five years later – and ten years after he stopped hosting the all-conquering ITV quiz – Tarrant still gets it.

“Even yesterday,” he laughs. “It’s never a problem, it’s just people’s way of saying they like the show.


“Sometimes they get the catchphrases wrong and say ‘Hello Chris, are you going to phone the audience?’ Eh? How would that work?”

Once, after he ordered a pint in a London pub, the landlord pulled it and poured it straight into the slop bucket saying, “But we don’t want to give you that…”

Being heckled in the streets by smiling strangers was nothing new. “People had been shouting things at me since Tiswas, usually about custard or Sally James,” says Chris, 76, recalling his gloriously anarchic Saturday morning show.

Ostensibly for kids, but loved by adults too, Tiswas with its caged spectators, pie-slinging Phantom Flan Flinger, and hit single (The Bucket Of Water Song) made stars of Tarrant, James and Lenny Henry.

It was an unusual career change for the teacher-turned-TV-newsman.


English graduate Tarrant started teaching at Samuel Pepys County Secondary School in New Cross, southeast London, in 1971. “It was bloody tough,” he tells me. “I taught the Easter leavers – all boys; they’d had enough at 14. Some of them were bigger than me. There were 42 in the class but half of them wouldn’t turn up, they’d be off working with their dads.

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“One got arrested for driving a stolen car when he should have been in maths.”

Chris, busy promoting the paperback edition of his laughter-packed memoir, It’s Not A Proper Job, escaped by writing “a dreadful brash letter” to every ITV company, including “the awful phrase, ‘I am the face of the 70s, this is your last chance to snap me up.”

Incredibly three replied, and in 1972 he started work on the Midlands-based news programme ATV Today. Tarrant did serious news initially but inevitably graduated to lighter items – “lightbulb eaters, hedgehog jugglers, men who ate live frogs…”.


His father, Basil – an infantry major veteran of Dunkirk and D-Day – and mother Joan lived near Chris’s home-town of Reading and couldn’t see the show.

“So unknown to me, they booked into a hotel in Oxford to watch their son do fearless hard news reporting, only to see me covering a bloke on a charity walk with four ferrets down his trousers…”

Perfect training for Tiswas.

When ATV wanted someone slightly potty to host the hare-brained new show, his news producer instantly suggested Tarrant. It ran for eight laughter-packed years; guests included Paul McCartney, Queen and Annie Lennox – all fans.

“Frank Carson was on it relentlessly, whether we booked him for it or not. He’d turn up and say, ‘The show was dying, I thought I’d save it.’


Chris Tarrant wins 2005 National Television Award

Chris Tarrant wins 2005 National Television Award for Best Quiz Programme (Image: Getty)

“One day he brought a funny little bloke with him who turned out to be Bob Carolgees with Spit The Dog.”

They covered caged adults in gunge years before Noel Edmonds. “People queued up for it,” chuckles Chris. “One woman spent the morning in The Cage but when she watched the video she couldn’t even recognise herself, she was just smothered…”

When The Bucket Of Water Song was a hit, the cast became targets. “People came up to us in pubs and poured beer over our heads, and we always took it, but once in a restaurant in Brighton a terribly posh lady poured the ice bucket over Sally’s head, which was too much.”

Tarrant is still as hearty, congenial and unaffected by fame as he was when I first interviewed him on the set of Tiswas’s doomed 1982 adult spin-off O.T.T.

“We had huge ratings at midnight and Lenny Henry was brilliant on it, he just grew and grew. But it was very experimental and some of it was crap; maybe I didn’t have enough control over it as a producer, we were just trying out ideas live.


“One week we’d have Alexei Sayle, the next Bernard Manning. On a Monday morning the ITV controller used to kick me around the office but we took chances and had great bands on – Deep Purple, Status Quo, The Human League.”

Radio gave him more freedom. “I had the best time of my life at Capital Radio. It was an exhausting 17 years, but we beat off all the upstarts, travelled the world and I had a brilliant time, getting paid to play records and talk nonsense.

“I like being able to think of an idea on the drive to work and just do it. Nowadays everyone has a webcam. The first thing I did at Capital was lob a coat over the camera. I’m only doing radio! Watching people on radio is hugely boring.”

The germ of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? came from his Capital quiz, Double Or Quits. Tarrant’s producer asked him to front the pilot. By the time they filmed the second, with added dimmed lights and dramatic music, everyone was hooked. ITV boss David Liddiment decided it should go out live every night for ten days.

“There was so much pressure the first night, we had a therapist on stand-by. Someone won £64,000 – nobody had won that kind of money before.”


In its second year, Millionaire filled 19 places in the TV Top 20 – “we smashed the BBC to pieces” – and in 2000 Judith Keppel made world news by becoming the first-ever quizzer to win £1million.

Chris Tarrant with his wife, Jane Bird

Chris Tarrant with his wife, Jane Bird (Image: Getty)

“I thought we might get four years out of the show, I did thirty series! By the end of my time, I’d had enough. ITV wanted more and more celebrity editions and there are only so many famous people. We had Paul McCartney, George Michael, Frederick Forsyth…people who never go on game shows.

“I knew sooner or later they’d use reality TV people. I didn’t want to go down that route.”

Why was it so successful?

“It’s a simple format, it grabbed people, the answer was right in front of you so it had shout-ability. Judy Finnigan said she heard Richard Madeley use language shouting at Millionaire that she’d never heard in all their years of marriage.”


The show’s only scandal was James Imgram – aka the Coughing Major – who was found guilty of cheating his way to the £1million prize.

The saga was re-told as drama on ITV’s Quiz. “Michael Sheen did me, he’s an actor not an impressionist, but some of his mannerisms as me were wonderful. Mike Osman mimics me best, he’s so close, and his Trump is brilliant too. Rory Bremner is going around the country being me. I’ve never gone ‘tee-hee’ in my life.”

He hasn’t seen Jeremy Clarkson’s version. “I get on with him socially, I just don’t watch game shows. I watch Netflix, the news, Sky Sport and Sky Arts.”

'It's Not A Proper Job' by Chris Tarrant‘It’s Not A Proper Job’ by Chris Tarrant [Great Northern Books Ltd.]

Father-of-four Chris lives happily with his third wife Jane in an idyllic Cambridge Village. They’ve been together seventeen years. “She’s my mate,” Tarrant beams.

He had a serious stroke in 2014 flying home from filming Extreme Railway Journeys in Bangkok but says, “I’m all good now. I used to work like a dog but I take it easier. I did a nice thing with John Cleese for his chat show the other day because I’d never met him.


“I’m supposed to be doing a film about bears and trying to do TV with my son, he talks more than I do.

“I don’t drink whisky every day but I still like a beer. I travel a lot. I took my eldest grandchildren on safari in South Africa, their eyes were out on stalks. It was beautiful to watch their reactions.

“I’m trying to get to the Caribbean to see some cricket.

“I’ve been to too many friends’ funerals. I don’t know how long I’ve got but I know I’m going to enjoy every minute.”

  • It’s Not A Proper Job by Chris Tarrant (Great Northern Books) is out now in paperback. More details are at

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Holly Willoughby wows at NTAs without Schofield one year after being booed | Celebrity News | Showbiz & TV



Holly Willoughby looked on incredible Tuesday night as she showed off her sense of style in a stunning lilac dress which skimmed the floor.

The gorgeous frock featured a bandeau style corset which cinched in her waist and highlighted her incredible figure as she made an appearance on the red carpet at the National Television Awards 2023.

The 42-year-old took to the red carpet solo as her former co-presenter Phillip Schofield sensationally quit his role on This Morning earlier this year.

The stunning attire designed by Suzanne Nevill London saw Holly put her incredible physique on display as she posed for photos ahead of the big event.


The blonde beauty looked ethereal in the figure-hugging dress which featured a long train.

Holly put on a brave face despite the ITV favourite getting booed when she took to the stage at the award ceremony last year.

The presenting duo attended the awards show on (October 13), where This Morning was named Best Daytime Show.

When she took to the stage alongside her former co-star Phillip the pair were met with faint boos by the audience.

It comes after the presenting duo sparked outrage amid claims the pair had skipped the queue when they went to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II at her lying in state in September 2022.


When taking to the stage, neither addressed the controversy, but Phil said the award means “so much to us every year, especially this year”.

He added: “Please don’t think we ever get complacent and please don’t think we ever take it for granted. This means so much to us every year, especially this year. We have the best boss.”

Holly’s appearance at this year’s NTAs comes in the wake of the Phillip scandal which has plagued This Morning after the longstanding presenter, who quit ITV altogether in May, admitted to an “unwise but not illegal affair” with a much younger colleague.

The 62-year-old has since unfollowed Holly on Instagram ahead of the ceremony but still follows her sister Kelly and at the time of writing Holly still follows Phillip on Instagram.

Holly and Phil had been among the regular nominees for best presenters until the long-running scandal, which has also seen staff on the show raise allegations of a “toxic” working environment and alleged bullying.


However, Holly has not been nominated this year and instead her co-star Alison Hammond has been nominated for best presenter.

The nomination is expected to break Ant and Dec’s 21-year winning streak.

The National Television Awards airs tonight on ITVX at 8pm.

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This Morning presenters booed by NTAs audience after ITV bosses feared it could happen | Celebrity News | Showbiz & TV



Fears that ITV nominees were going to be booed at the National Television Awards appear to have come true.

ITV bosses reportedly feared that This Morning stars might be booed following the scandal that has engulfed the programme since Phillip Schofield dramatically left the show in May.

Phillip, 62, sensationally quit all of his TV roles following the admission that he had an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a younger male colleague.

Viewers watching the show at home heard booing from the crowd when the This Morning team appeared on screen.


Joel Dommett introduced Holly, Alison, Dermot and the rest of the team when the crowd reacted.

Fans were quick to take to X, formerly known as Twitter, to share what they heard.

One fan viewer said: “I heard boos for this morning I’m sorry if they win after all that’s happened, it’s a fix #NTAs2023.”

A second said: “Piers Morgan got more boos than This Morning lmao #NTAs2023.”

Whilst a third supported the This Morning team, writing: “People need to give the whole @thismorning drama a rest, there is zero need to boo someone you’ve never met but feel you “know” #NTAs2023.”


There were also concerns that fans may have taken aim at the cast and crew of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!.

Worries were raised due to Matt Hancock’s controversial appearance in the show. His participation attracted over 1,000 Ofcom complaints.

Despite the backlash, the reality TV show is up for the Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award, whilst show hosts Ant and Dec are up for the Best TV Presenter award.

Speaking of the worries, a source has claimed: “Bosses see this win as proof of I’m A Celebrity’s ongoing popularity but also a reflection of the fact that it returned to form in 2022 after Covid forced it to be filmed in the UK rather than Australia for two years.

“They don’t want that glorious moment on stage to be affected by anything negative, but they also know the strength of feeling against Matt.”


Piers Morgan was also booed as Joel pointed him out to the audience. Piers took it in good humour as the TalkTV host laughed and shook his head at the crowd’s reaction.

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Jeff Brazier in floods of tears as Strictly star son Bobby wins Rising Star gong at NTAs | Celebrity News | Showbiz & TV



EastEnders newcomer Bobby Brazier has picked up an award at tonight’s NTAs.

The 20-year-old took to the stage and paid tribute to his dad, saying: “It has little to do with me and everything to do with my dad.”

Bobby looked nervous as he continued: “For over the course of the last 20 years, I’ve consistently heard him say, ‘Because I can’.”

He went on to say: “And him just saying that…because I can,” before lifting the award and beaming with pride.


The camera panned to his father Jeff Brazier, 44, who was visibly emotional as he watched his son scoop the award for Rising Star.

Fans went crazy on X, formerly known as Twitter, with @‌Floral_Fanatic_ writing: “Bobby Brazier is such a charming young guy & deserves all the success in the world. Jeff is such a great dad too @‌JeffBrazier #NTAs.”

@‌ZynaEnjoys posted: “Wow #BobbyBrazier speech #NTAs.”

@‌vscobie17 wrote: “How bloomin lovely was that speech! Bobby Brazier has been raised right! #NTAs #NTA2023.”

Whilst @‌geordiegalg said: “Could not be happier for Bobby Brazier. What an amazing young man he is, an absolute credit to his dad and his mum would be so proud too. He is going to be incredible on Strictly, I can’t wait! #NTAs #EastEnders.”


Bobby joined the cast of EastEnders earlier this year to play Freddie Slater.

Whilst on stage Bobby also thanked his EastEnders co-stars.

He praised them for being supportive, lovely and merciful, claiming that it was everything that he needed.

He also joked that his fellow cast are so good that he doesn’t need to ask questions – he can just observe and he automatically gets better.

After he received his award, Bobby told how he was going to celebrate his win saying: “I’ll have a dance tonight, if my dad wants to… I think I’m going to cry when I see him.”


He was also asked what he was going to do with his gong and thoughtfully responded: “I just want to go and give it to my dad, or Lacey Turner.”

Bobby is also set to appear as a contestant on the 21st series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2023

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