Why did you decide to do The Wave?
As soon as I'd seen the full treatment I understood what a fantastic show this was and saw that there was actually a real game element to it. I also caught the game show bug after doing Babushka. Plus, a week in Portugal with sun, sea and sand, you can't moan!
So what's The Wave all about?
The concept of the show is that it's a team of two who battle our course, which is six pontoons out at sea. On each pontoon there's an A and B question - get the question right and you'll get the cash available on that pontoon, then swim to the next. If you do all six pontoons and get it all right, then there's £12k. And whilst the swimmer is swimming from one pontoon to the next, the person in the studio is answering three questions to get 30 seconds extra time for the swim back. And whenever they do decide to swim back to the shoreline, they only win the cash they've accumulated if they're back in that time.
Get a question wrong on the pontoon though and you get 1kg weight to put in your money belt. I thought 1kg wasn't that heavy but one of the contestants got 2kg and I couldn't even lift the belt! When you're swimming it's even worse - 4kg could take you to the bottom. So it's really dangerous! But obviously safety comes first on this show. If the waves get a little too choppy, we stop and we wait for it to calm down.
What are the contestants like?
The contestants are great. We purposefully made sure we got good swimmers because someone who's a mediocre swimmer would not be able to take on The Wave at all. It is really treacherous. I'm a really strong swimmer myself and if I had to take it on, I would - but I wouldn't want to.
So we won't see you doing it?
Maybe not! But it's a really great game. There are a lot of shows that are a bit bouncing about on water and a bit silly, whereas this isn't. It actually reminds me a bit of Fort Boyard, do you remember that? Which I loved, because it had a game to it and you were working up to an end game and all the games that you played before have an effect on that last part. Throughout the episode there's a story.
Have you seen many arguments?
Yes! I've seen arguments and people disagreeing. But the ultimate decision when it comes to when they want to swim back, that is the swimmer's decision. And a lot of the time we've had swimmers who have said, 'I'm quite far out now I think I'm going to swim back'. And the person in the studio is saying; "No! Go to the next one, there's £5k on it!"
And Kerri-Anne Payne is on hand to help the swimmers...
Yes. Kerri-Anne is so lovely. She's an amazing girl and obviously a brilliant sportswoman as well. And that's why we have her here because she always offers advice, to us but mainly to the contestants. So she will say, look I've watched your swimming technique and I would suggest you leave now. If they want to listen to her it's up to them. If they don't, more fool them.
Have you had many hairy moments?
We have. We've had contestants that have started to swim back and panicked so had to be dragged out of the sea - they're obviously completely safe, which is why we have lifeguards and Kerri-Anne and a big team. But they think they're fine and I just think the enormity of the fact they're not in a swimming pool, they're in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, that becomes very real when you dive in to try and get back.
We've had really strong fit men that could probably swim 20 miles but when the klaxon goes, they dive in and know they have 4.5 minutes or whatever to get back, and for that first minute they're power swimming and then it hits them. The wave hits them and they're just knocked for six, it slows them down, or the current can pull them back slightly.
We had a contestant who did manage to do the course and win money but as he was swimming back, a current pulled him backwards about 3-4 metres - that's another 25 seconds lost. But the reason it's called The Wave is because if you hit a wave right at the right time that can save up to 30 seconds because it does the work for you. It's just crazy. And we're not faking anything because it's nature.
What about funny moments - have there been many of those?
Yes, we've had some hilarious moments out at sea but although I'd say it's a really fun, light-hearted show, the further the show goes on, it gets really serious. To the point where it gets safety serious as well because you're sitting there and we've had contestants who have had 3-4 kg of weights in their belts and they've only got three minutes to get back. In your head you're thinking they're not going to do it - yet some have.
If you could choose any celebrities to do The Wave, who would you like to see tackle it?
Oh the list would be endless! I'd like to meet a celeb brave enough to take it on. I don't know if we could afford the insurance to be fair! I'd love to see those cocky celebrities; like you get a lot of reality guys that are, 'yeah I could do that, that's easy.' And I'm sure there will be people who watch this and go that's quite easy - come and have a go! Because believe me, I was the person saying - 'guys, look it sounds great but I've not really seen any massive waves, maybe we need to get jets and fake the waves.' Then, when I turned up, I realised we don't have to do anything because it's a lot tougher than even I thought it would be.