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George Lamb interview: 'Frankie Cocozza could have worse role models'

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A DJ, a TV presenter, a pop act manager, a dapper bow-tie wearer, a son of the bad guy in EastEnders, an idol for Frankie Cocozza and now a gameshow host, George Lamb's career has definitely never been dull.

Lamb is back hosting the second series of nerve-shredding gameshow The Bank Job this weekend. Digital Spy caught up with him for a chat about the series, his time on Big Brother and his thoughts on being a hero for Frankie Cocozza.

The Bank Job: George Lamb

© Channel 4



What are you up to today, George?
"Today I am doing press interviews with Digital Spy. And that's probably my highlight."

Do you mind doing press interviews?
"No, not at all. If anyone has the patience to listen to me, I'm very happy to talk."

Watch the jaw-dropping finale to series one of The Bank Job below:



Let's talk about that finale to series one of The Bank Job...
"What, do you mean the best TV that has happened in the last 20 years? Do you mean that bit?"

A lot of people haven't seen it, though..
"Well, more fool them!"

The look on your face when the two guys lose the half a million pounds is brilliant. Was that genuine shock?
"I genuinely thought they were going to share. It didn't even come into my psyche that you would do anything else. You have the opportunity to take £250,000. The natural thing to do is split it. Let's be cool dude, you win and I win. Thank you very much, everyone's a winner.

"I gave a cursory glance to the side, just thinking they would have shared, and expected to say, well done boys, thanks very much, good night. And then I double-taked and realised that they had double-crossed each other. My natural reaction was just, 'You pair of idiots! What have you done?' It was such a dumb ass move. But hey, it made much better television for us. So, long may there be more double crossing on The Bank Job."

Do you think the guys spoke to each other afterwards?
"I really don't know. You know how it is in TV studios. There are people here and there. People were taking apart the set, execs were high-fiving and producers were shaking hands. So I didn't see the two guys afterwards. I'm not sure what the fall out was, but I doubt they've been hanging out very much."

It got picked up for a second series quickly. Were you pleased that Channel 4 showed such faith in it?
"I think everybody realised that there was something pretty special about it. By its nature it's a complex game with many variables, we wanted to get it back quickly and embed it in people's psyches. We want to keep it fresh in [people's] minds. It also allows me to keep things fresh in my mind and keep the momentum going."

Have you made any changes for the second series? There were criticisms that the show was too complicated...
"We've definitely sharpened it up a bit. Like anything in life, you would be foolish not to let things constantly evolve and constantly make things better. There is always room for growth and change. Nobody will watch it and think it's a different show, but we have tweaked some rounds and made it easier to comprehend. The comprehension should be a little more basic, one would hope."

When I was young, there were TV quiz shows like Blockbusters and Catchphrase and they were more light-hearted. Why do you think modern game shows have such peril and viewers are happy to see people lose money?
"Oh, it's cold, hard world that we live in! Do you know what, I don't know why. I don't know why that culturally is where we are at right now. I'm sure those sorts of shows will come back again. I guess it's like rock and roll bands. There were lots five years ago. There are none now. I'm sure there will be again in five years' time. I'm not sure that is the right analogy or not, but it's the best one I've got right now."

You've done lots of work on Channel 4. Are you not tempted to chance your arm on primetime ITV1 or BBC One?
"Never say never in life. But I think you have to stick to what you know. I think I'm someone who will watch Channel 4 at 9pm rather than primetime Saturday night telly at 7pm. I'm not keen in doing stuff that I don't believe in or feel comfortable with. I don't want to be there flogging something that I don't believe in. That's a loose way of saying I think I'm in the right place. If that means I'm a bit more niche, and niche is still a couple of million viewers, I'm happy with that."

Would you like a stab at doing a massive show like The X Factor?
"I certainly wouldn't have any qualms about doing one of those shows in principle. But I think I'd like to take one on from the outset. If you take on someone else's job, you are making a rod for your own back. You have people with preconceived ideas of how it should be done. Whatever job it is, you'll always get people complaining, 'I don't like the way you do it, I prefer the way the other one did it'. So I think it's a career choice best avoided really."

You are known by a lot of people for your time on Big Brother's Little Brother. Do you still have a lot of affection for Big Brother?
"Err... Look, I loved Little Brother. I loved working on that show. I earned my stripes doing it, so I'll always remember that. But am I rushing home to watch the show every night... honestly? No. But it was a really wonderful part of my life, so I'll always have fond memories of it."

Frankie Cocozza recently said that he wanted to be "the next George Lamb"...
"Talk about aiming high! Hey!"

What did you think to Frankie's comments?
"I know what my mates thought about it. They thought it was hilarious. Oh, you know, Frankie Cocozza seems like a nice enough lad. If he wants to be like me, he could have worse role models I guess."

Do you have any other TV shows in the pipeline beyond The Bank Job?
"I am working on a couple of documentary ideas that I may or may not be presenting. And there are a couple of other shows that I'm working though at the moment, something with Sky, something with one of the big production companies. But if I'm totally honest, my main focus right now is on The Bank Job. If we get it right now, it could be something pretty special and really become something great. I've been guilty in the past of taking on too many things at once. I feel now that I've got a really good crack at doing something I like and making it into something special."

The Bank Job returns at 9pm tonight (February 17) on Channel 4.

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