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TV Interview

James Corden, Georgie Thompson, Andrew Flintoff, Jamie Redknapp ('A League Of Their Own')

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James Corden at the Glamour Women Of The Year Awards, London

© WENN / Daniel Deme

Many teams opt for a solid five across the middle these days, and Sky1's A League Of Their Own is no exception. While a couple of guests fill out the numbers each week, the sports panel quiz always fields James Corden in the holding role, flanked by Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff and Sky Sports's Georgie Thompson one side and ex Liverpool/Spurs man Jamie Redknapp and comedian John Bishop on the other. DS and some other journos got in a room with James, Jamie, Georgie and Freddie to have a chat about the show as it enters its third series in the palatial new surroundings of Elstree Studios.

What can we look forward to in Series Three?
James: "It feels bigger in all aspects really. It's longer, it's on for an hour - 44 minutes on Sky - the half hour show in the edit times was about 22-23 minutes. We've made that end game a lot bigger - I hope it's got the same warmth that it had when it was just everybody sitting around a desk."

What strange things have you got for the final round this series?
Georgie: "We went to Austria for a skeleton bob challenge because we've got Amy Williams on the show. Some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to send James, Bish and I to Austria to experience a little bit of what Amy does for a living!"
James: "We've Georgie and Christine Bleakley on a trapeze."
Freddie: "My favourite is Phil 'The Power' Taylor hanging off a diving board for as long as he can. I can't tell you how long he managed, but he did slightly better than some of our regulars!"

How comfortable do you feel doing a panel show now?
Freddie: "More and more as the series have gone on. To come from a cricket background and to go a panel show it was just learning my place initially. You've got James who's funny and Bish and me and Jamie as bookends really! I'm starting to enjoy it.. Finishing cricket, TV's something I'd like to get into more. It's all a bit of a learning curve at the moment. I'm just trying to get more and more experience."

How competitive is the show?
James: "Our panel shows sometimes you can feel that there's an energy, a spike to them. A competitive nature between the people that are sat there. I've never felt that once - it's a group of people who really like spending time together and having as much fun as they can, as opposed to trying to be funnier than everyone else."

Does that vibe change when comedians come on the show?
James: "I think people come in and realise quite early on that it's just a nice, almost family group. You see it. Friends of mine who are comics who come on the show go 'Oh! So I don't need to... I've got a list of... jokes... but... alright, cool' and they just put them away and let it organically be as much fun as possible."

Who's the best guest you've had on this series?
Georgie: "I love Jimmy Carr, I love having him on. When he's on he's always on mine and Fred's team and he's just brilliant. Like James says, he buys in instantly to the fact that it's very much a team show. And he's very generous as a comedian. I was so pleasantly surprised by the type of person he is and he helped me feel like I could say what I wanted to say. He'd help you get there."
Freddie: "Phil 'The Power'. It had to be a darts player. If I did it all again I'd be a darts player. 15 times world champion! And Robbie Fowler was great."
Georgie: "Christine was lovely. It's nice to occasionally have another girl on the show."

Do you get a veto on the guests?
Georgie: [To James] "Do you? We definitely don't, do we Freddie?!"
Freddie: "No pull here! Just happy to be in the set up."

Who would be a dream guest star?
Georgie: "It would be nice to get Becks on. A lot of football stars that I talk to are so well media trained but the one thing that this show does is disarm everybody. They're allowed to be themselves more and that's great, because you see a bit of a different side than the one you might read about in the papers or see in a sports interview. Big stars on this sort of show would be great because it would be a very different perspective - of which I think Becks would be one! There's loads, Jose Mourinhio is someone I'd like."
James: "I'd like [Arsenal's] Emmanuel Eboue. Hands down funniest footballer in the world."

That tiger suit...
James: [Nods] "The tiger suit..."
Georgie: "What about Andrei Arshavin?"
James: "I love Arshavin, but if I could pick anyone it'd be Eboue. Funniest footballer that's ever lived. He's just brilliant. He's exceptional. When Arsenal won the Emirates Cup - a friendly pre-season tournament that means nothing - everyone lifted the trophy and they're all slightly embarrassed... and Eboue did a lap of the ground just really going, 'Yeah!'. So that would be my pick. [Eboue's teammate] Gael Clichy came on the show and he was great - one of the nicest people you could ever meet."

Would you have your partner Dec on, Georgie?
Georgie: "No... he's ITV contracted!"

Do you try to think of funny things to say?
Freddie: "Yeah, 'cos sometimes I daydream. I'm just sat there watching the show, and then I think 'Hang on, you're on this... say something!'"
Jamie: "It's quite nervewracking as well - after a night, I'll go home and say to Louise, 'I said this today, was that funny?' And she'll just look at me, practising my stuff! Practising my lines on her!"
Georgie: "There's no better feeling than coming up with something and somebody giggling, and you think 'Thank god! I didn't completely die on my arse there!'"

Jamie and Freddie - do you hold back from making jokes because of your friendships to people in football and cricket?
Jamie: "I think there's certain things you've got to be careful what you say."
James: "I think we've all been quite careful, from the producers down to us really that we wouldn't the show to be like a comedy roast. The easiest joke to make is often the one that would make somebody feel inferior or the one that would put them down. The easiest route is to be negative. I think that then results in a negative show. Not that we would every be sycophantic towards people but we do jokes that are very clearly and obviously jokes, as opposed to just laying into people. That's the last thing we wanted to do."
Georgie: "We all do things that are still related to the world in which we talk about, so we're all aware that we've still got to go back to the day job... hopefully!"
Freddie: "A lot of the humour is about ourselves."

Jamie, we heard you get set on fire in this series...
Jamie: "It was this Cesc Fabregas advert - he keeps the ball up while he's set on fire. It wasn't till afterwards that they told me it's not actually him! If I'd have had all day to think about it I'd have gone 'I'm not doing that', but James has just went, 'it's for an extra point', so I thought 'alright then'. It burnt my eyebrows and eyelashes afterwards. I had to get all the gear off afterwards and the lady's gone, 'Your eyebrows are singed!'"
Georgie: "Not the face!!!"
James: "Apparently another 15 seconds and it could have burnt through to your arms - that's what they said!"

A League Of Their Own returns to Sky1 this Friday at 9.30pm

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