Kitchen Burnout looks like quite a challenge. How did you get on?
"The toughest thing was that I'm a typical Aquarian and I've become really good friends with Carol and Alex. I'm not competitive at all. If I was more ambitious, I would have done a lot more with myself over the years. I just want to work with nice people. If you can sit there and have a really good laugh, a really good hoot, then that's far more important than winning anything. I mean you'll see pictures of me with Alex and Carol on the ITV press office site where I'm just creasing up. We all had the exact same sense of humour. A bit sarcy, quite witty, a little bit naughty, but not necessarily resorting to swearing and effing and blinding. If someone had tried to find two people I'd love more, neither of whom I have worked with before, you couldn't have found anyone better than Carol and Alex."
Did you get along okay with Marco?
"Well, I just spoke to ITV and they said that I was his absolute number one favourite. Maybe he liked my frankness. I think also people tend to think of me as I was on breakfast telly. A bit fluffy, maybe even spineless... But I'm nothing like that. Never judge an astrologer by the colour of his jumper! I'm really not like that. My friends will tell you that."
Did you talk to him about star signs?
"I threw it out there. ITV didn't ask me, but I think they were pleased when I threw it in. When we first arrived I didn't know what sign Marco was. I don't look at these things, despite what people think, I don't let astrology rule my life. I don't go looking at people's charts before I meet them. That's the way not to use it. But after we spoke I knew he was either a Leo or a Sag, and he was. He's a Sag and that's why he has that boundless optimism, he's very anecdotal, he's a great raconteur. I mean he told us all about his life and how he started out in a hotel in Harrogate. He's quite an amazing man. This is a bloke who you associate with the Ritz, Paris, the Savoy, Rome, but he started life out up near Leeds! He's a down-to-earth man with a cosmopolitan flair."
We've seen other contestants struggle under pressure. Are you someone who copes well in these situations?
"Cooking for the 25 diners, I have never done anything like that and I actually felt like bursting into tears when I finished. For no other reason than the pressure was off and I'd got through it. I mean it shows how competitive me, Alex and Carol were - when any of us finished we would go and help the other one with some peeling. That's the kind of relationship we had. I remember crying once in Bambi, not because the deer got shot, but because all the animals came to help. It was like that sort of atmosphere, all friends together. We didn't give a toss whether we made it through or not. I'll tell you the one thing it did teach me though - if you send something back in a kitchen in the future, make sure you really, really need to send it back. Don't do it just for the sheer hell of it!"
Why did you choose to do this reality show after turning down Celebrity Big Brother earlier this year?
"I always believe you should go on reality TV shows to learn something or do something creative. I don't think I necessarily need to go on - oh it's such a God old hackneyed phrase - 'the journey'. Am I cynical? Yeah I am. 'I've learnt more about myself,' says Kerry Katona. 'Not to go to Iceland!' All of that is old gubbins. I did Celebrity Fit Club and I've done Marco because I knew I could learn something. I lost weight and made friends on Fit Club. With Marco, I've learnt how the other half live in the kitchen and I learnt enough culinary skills to feel really proud of myself. But it is very difficult with these reality shows. I certainly don't have any regrets about not doing Celebrity Big Brother."
You've been doing astrology on TV for a long while. Have people's attitudes to the subject changed since you first started out?
"I've been doing it for hundreds of years, you want to say! I started in 1979 on regional shows in the days when Greg Dyke was a mere producer for a local regional show. It goes way back to the days of HTV in Wales, TVS in Southampton. The difference these days is that I have a gravitas and they know to take me seriously. I know all their tricks now. When a producer calls and says they want to do a light-hearted piece on astrology, I just go 'feck off'. In my early days, it was all brand new and I was the first regular daily astrologer on TV. I was also lucky that with a lot of shows, I was left to my own devices and had great crews. I mean it's funny because I remember on one of my early shows at the BBC, Mark Thompson, who is now the director general, running around with weather maps and my 'stars of the day'. Gosh, how he has grown in stature!"
Has the growth of specialist and satellite TV channels helped or hindered TV astrology?
"The subject has certainly been devalued by the growth of channels. Although they are not connected to astrology, people also associate the subject with these psychic shows. There are one or two decent ones, but there's a hell of a lot of others who aren't so good. In the '80s and part of the '90s you weren't even allowed to do astrology on ITV! The guidelines said that you couldn't do it. On my first big series, Russell Grant's All Star Show - which got a 46% share! - it had to go through a whole board meeting to get through. Fortunately the board knew me, knew I took it seriously and okay-ed the project. In those early days, I had to really explain and persuade the bosses that astrology, physic, tarot, palmistry - they are all different. It would be like calling plumbers, carpenters and electricians all the same. They are not."
Marco's Kitchen Burnout airs tonight at 9pm on ITV1