We had a four year old take over blockbuster so the day was very sweet. My favourite, well not my favourite, but the one that tickled me the most was a little girl who became a DJ for the day, proving that being a disc jockey is not very difficult.
It’s the sort of show we used to make. I used to love Michael Aspel doing ‘Childs Play’ - that was a great show. They keep bringing back stuff from way back when, and you think why don’t you bring back things like Child’s Play or Small Talk, Ronnie Corbett used to know and all that, and just conversations with kids.
How do today’s kids, compare to kids from the 1970’s then? Is there any difference?
You can’t tell, it was such a different environment, there were kids running around covered in custard, and sort of hitting each other over the head with rubber hammers and all that stuff really.
The younger generation now get this sort of label, that kids are horrible and all out of control. But, these kids up to the age of 5 are really very nice, positive people. I don’t know at what point it goes terribly wrong, but with this show I just felt really proud of it at the end. I thought what a nice show!
I have ‘Millionaire’ as my main sort of bedrock and we’ll go on doing that for at least a couple of years, so for me it’s just nice to do just something else. So as long as I can do something like this kids show or I can go off and film polar bears or I can do some radio and stuff, and sort of keep other strings in my bow working, then it’s good.
This show was a hoot though to make, I really enjoyed it and I didn’t expect it to be as much fun as it was. I thought it was quite a nice show, and when we did it I just loved it. And of course, all the little girls are falling madly in love with the all the little boys. Some of them who were so sweet; you just want to take them home.
So obviously people know you from ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’, are there plans to stick with the show still?
Oh god yes. I just literally go in again next week and we will record some more, we have just done some more for the rest of September. It just seems to carry on and on. If you said to me back in 1998 that I would still be doing it when we go into 2010, I would say “are you having a laugh or what?” There was no way it was suppose d to last that long.
It’s just such a brilliant format that’s the reason why it works. It’s shown in 115 countries around the world, we have done over 600 in this country, we have given away over 60 million pounds, we even had Slumdog Millionaire, the Oscar winning movie. The achievements of ‘Millionaire’ are just beyond anybody’s expectations, we all thought it would do okay but no-one expected this.
I still enjoy it, I sat there last week with my suit on, looking at some complete stranger and I am actually sitting there thinking to myself that I still get a buzz out of wondering what are you like? How brave are you? How intelligent are you? How stupid are you? How risky are you prepared to be? And all that, I mean I still find it fascinating.
So, who is more demanding - the celebrities or kids?
I think celebrities actually, although, the interesting thing about doing a ‘Millionaire’ celebrity is that, it doesn’t matter how successful these guys are, you know, and how confident they are in their working life.
I mean when they sit in that ‘Millionaire’ chair, most of them are absolutely genuinely terrified. I mean Paul O’Grady was in bits, he barely could come on, he said “oh god, what am I doing here?” Jonathan Ross, I mean there’s a guy who is very confident, he said “this is the scariest thing I have ever done in my whole life”.
Have you got a copy of the board game at home? Is it something you play around the house?
No I haven’t actually; I think I may know the answers. I still get letters from people randomly saying, “I have got the CD rom and I have won a million pounds, where’s my cheque? I think “Sod off, read the small print on the back of box”!
I’ll tell you one thing I do. You know the pub game, the ‘Millionaire’ pub game? I quite often I do this: I was in a pub in Cardiff a few weeks ago and if somebody’s on it, I just tap them on the shoulder and lean over and go “actually mate that one is B,” and they go “No, well, bloody hell it’s you!” It’s really spooky!
So going back to ‘Tarrant Lets the Kids Loose’, what’s your best childhood memory?
I had a great childhood, I love my Dad to pieces and I just had a great time. Probably the most formative thing was at the age of four my Granddad took me fishing. That actually became a major part of the rest of my life.
A little bird told me you are very into fishing, is that something that you do to relax?
I’m probably the finest fisherman you’ll ever talk to, serious business. I have just come back from Russia, two weeks ago.
If you had the opportunity to set up a business when you were a kid or do a challenge or a task, what would of you have done do you think? If it wasn’t sort of entertainment, maybe you would have been a fisherman?
When I was kid I always wanted to be either the captain of the England cricket team or I wanted to be a river bailiff. I just thought it would be great; I would get paid to go fishing all day. I now know enough river bailiffs to see that it’s not actually like that at all; it’s actually really hard work. You’re cutting weed all day and all that.
But I still think, as a kid that would have been great fun.
What other projects are coming up for you? Is there anything else in the pipeline?
I have actually, I have got a very serious radio contract coming up, but I can’t talk about it, it’s all a bit secret squirrel. But I’ll happily come back and talk about it when it’s all confirmed, but we are doing the stuff all at the moment, it will be good actually.
Where is your favourite place in London?
Where do I start? Do you know where I love? St. James Park. I remember all those years when I used to come in early in the morning with Capital, you would get there just as the light was coming up, about 5:30, and you saw all the blossoms.
I always used to go down there like a bat out of hell with my head sticking out the window thinking, this is good I’m alive. It used to give me a real rush before I started work. It’s a beautiful place, it’s a beautiful park, I just think we don’t use it a lot; we don’t use our own city properly. It’s like the river, and we don’t use the river properly. Yes, St. James is probably my favourite place.
Tarrant Lets the Kids Loose starts on Sunday 4 October at 6pm only on Watch – Sky Channel 109, Virgin Media 124.
Tagged in Chris Tarrant