How would you describe your new series, Revenge Of The Egghead?
It features probably the most annoying Egghead, CJ de Mooi - anyone who watches the show knows what I mean. We just thought it would be fun if he took on members of the public on his own; they’re able to act together to try to defeat him, and he can also try to catch them out with questions he’s written himself. We’ve recorded about a dozen now, and it’s going well - it’s the most exciting new show I’ve ever done, actually. The most exciting thing is when CJ loses!
Why do you think CJ is the Egghead viewers love to hate?
I’ve filmed a lot of Eggheads - along with Dermot Murnaghan, we’ve done more than a thousand now - and there’s been a period when CJ went off and did other things, and we sort of missed him because the other Eggheads are all really lovely! When someone gets a wrong answer, CJ can’t get help himself, he rolls his eyes, he does a fake yawn - he’s very competitive and very self-confident. I love him to bits and he’s a very, very bright guy. What’s interesting about him is he’s got certain areas he’s very good on, and certain areas he’s very bad on - like football or English geography. I think he thinks he’s too important to look at maps.
What do you think makes Eggheads so successful?
It’s a brilliant format - the Eggheads themselves are quiz people, and the thing about people who are really, really good at quizzing is that they’re just built differently. Bringing five of them together to try to defeat ordinary pub quiz teams was a brilliant idea because they might win 14 out of 15, but you’re so desperate for them to lose. And on the 15th one, when the team of ordinary people pick up the jackpot, it’s just a thrilling moment.
Do you have any rivalry with The Chase?
It’s funny because someone said the other day in the studio: “Isn’t this show we’re doing with CJ just like The Chase?”. And I said, “No, you’ve got it the wrong way round – Eggheads is the granddaddy”.
How would you fare as a contestant on Revenge Of The Egghead?
I often think about this because I try to answer the questions in my own head, and I would be terrible at it. I’ve got areas of knowledge - I know the albums of Elvis Costello backwards.
I used to work in Westminster so I’m quite good on my politics.