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Sir Bruce Forsyth's wisdom that helped Vernon Kay become the star he is today

Mirror logo Mirror 9/04/2021 01:00:00 Antonia Hoyle
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TV favourite Vernon Kay stages his big comeback tomorrow night as host of ITV's new Saturday night show Game of Talents.

Luckily, Vernon doesn't just have his wife Tess Daly for moral support - he's remembering advice from her former Strictly co-host and King of Saturday night TV himself, Sir Bruce Forsyth, who died in 2017 but inspired Vernon and so many others throughout his career.

"I purposefully asked him loads of questions about telly. Every now and again you'd get a little masterclass," says Vernon, 46.

By way of example, Vernon recalls: "Bruce hated the word 'guys'. It's interesting that's the go-to welcome for anyone on social media. Bruce was like, 'there's girls watching as well. Why are you saying guys?' It's weird."

Vernon also remembers how he and presenter Chris Evans would study Brucie's technique when they worked together on 2003 reality series Boys and Girls on Channel 4.

"We sat together - usually with a bottle of champagne - just to watch how he commanded a game show. It's those basic skills that carry you a long way."

Tess Daly, Vernon Kay, Bruce Forsyth posing for the camera: Vernon Kay, Tess Daly and Sir Bruce Forsyth © Carl FoxVernon Kay, Tess Daly and Sir Bruce Forsyth

Not that live television doesn't still terrify Vernon, who spent three years hosting Formula E sports coverage for English speaking channels before coming third in ITV's I'm A Celebrity last December.

"It's the same fear you have as a kid with the Christmas nativity.

"The embarrassment of your parents watching you mess it up remains to this day," he says, speaking from his hotel opposite the Game of Talents studio, where he's staying because of the long hours on set.

Taking the place in the television calendar of Britain's Got Talent - absent because of Covid rules - Game of Talents sees members of the public team up with celebrities to guess the hidden talents of mystery performers on the show when they're not, for example, wearing a lycra costume or holding a dummy.

"You can't tell a trapeze artist from a ventriloquist and that's where the tension lies. It's the perfect formula because it's a game show and a variety show intertwined," says Vernon, who found fame after being scouted as a model and presented All Star Family Fortunes between 2006 and 2015.

Vernon Kay © ITVVernon Kay Tess Daly standing in front of a stage © ITVTess Daly

It is filmed without a studio audience because of the pandemic but he insists this is not an issue.

"The game play is such you forget there's no one there. There's lots of fun, lots of interaction. I'm excited for a really simple reason. It's a good show."

So do he and Tess, 52, have hidden talents? "I'm pretty good with an American football. I can fly a drone. A bit of breakdancing," he muses.

"As for Tess - she thinks of everything. I guess that's a talent. For example, when we get on a plane she has her own carry-on and then this bag that has literally got the front room in it and the kitchen."

Celebrities taking part later in the series include Jonathan Ross and Emma Willis. But tomorrow night he's joined by Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood and Tess, whom he married in 2003.

"It was nice to welcome Tess into my workplace, rather than the other way round, where she's welcomed me to Strictly and I've just watched," he says.

Vernon was a fan favourite on I'm A Celeb © ITV/REX/ShutterstockVernon was a fan favourite on I'm A Celeb

Vernon's own affable demeanour might have won him an army of new fans in I'm A Celebrity, held at Gwrych Castle in Abergele, North Wales, because of flight restrictions, but he struggled spending a fortnight in isolation, due to Covid curbs, before entering camp.

He says: "I was like 'oh my God there's no noise here, the kids don't want dropping off somewhere'.

"You realise how much you miss family life when you're isolated."

Nonetheless, his daughters, Phoebe, 16, and Amber, 11, had been desperate for him to take part. "It's the only reality show they watch, apart from Ru Paul's Drag Race, but I don't think I'm ready for that just yet!" he laughs.

Afterwards, the girls were so proud they were "in floods of tears. They loved it. I think I got a mention in one of their school assemblies for being kind". But he was met with a spate of DIY disasters when his five-week separation ended.

"The first conversation we had when I was driving back to the hotel when the show finished was Tess reeling off everything that had broken," he says, such as the dishwasher, the car and the front gate. But he admits Tess had been up to her eyeballs single-parenting: "I was so proud of her. She had home schooling, Strictly, started her swimwear range and managed my social media."

That he would return to mainstream television wasn't a given.

Vernon says he only accepted the Game of Talents gig this January because he loved the format. "I've always said I'm having such a good time doing sport that I didn't want to do an entertainment show I wasn't 100 per cent sure of," he explains.

He is friends with Ant and Dec, whose Saturday Night Takeaway he's replacing in the Saturday night schedule and who would ordinarily be presenting Britain's Got Talent this spring. "I know they'll take this the right way - they're part of the UK TV furniture. They're brilliant. I'm always on the phone to them picking their brains. They're good northern lads."

With Vernon from Bolton and Tess born in Stockport, they do a good job representing northerners on TV but he would welcome others.

"You can't really avoid us but it's always good to have more," he says.

He worries more about the next generation of talent, given T4, the youth-orientated slot broadcast on Channel 4 and E4, that fostered so many household names, including himself, was axed in 2012. "When we all retire where's the next batch going to come from? It's difficult to take someone from YouTube.

Vernon Kay et al. sitting on a table: Tess Daly and Vernon Kay © tessdaly/InstagramTess Daly and Vernon Kay

"A structured TV format is not something you can easily walk into."

It was on T4 that he met Tess in 2001. Vernon says the secret of their enduring marriage is "talking".

"It's that simple. About everything. It's really b***dy difficult at times, but you've got to talk."

But he loves Tess as strongly now as ever, he says.

"From the moment I fell in love with her, it's been the same."

  • Game of Talents starts tomorrow at 7.30pm on ITV.
9. huhtikuuta 2021 4:00:00 Categories: Mirror

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