Recommended second chance
For a decade Ben Shephard was a GMTV stalwart. Since quitting the breakfast sofa in 2010, he’s moved into covering football for Sky Sports. But now Ben’s heading back to ITV1, to front the new quiz show, Tipping Point.
What can you tell us about Tipping Point?
The guys who developed it wanted to do a show with this iconic piece of machinery. So it’s a hybrid of a game show and quiz show. You answer questions to get the chance to drop counters into the machine. There is a real sense of nostalgia about it as we’ve all played on those machines, at the seaside and in arcades. We’ve supersized it, it looks beautiful. So the four contestants stand in front of it and have to decide which slot to drop their counter down…they choose a drop zone where they think it’s going to release more counters. Every time, it’s gripping to see whether they will walk away with £10,000 or nothing. It’s quite an enticing and intriguing challenge.
This isn’t your first time presenting a quiz show is it?
No, I’ve done 1 Vs 100, and the revived Krypton Factor. That was one of my favourite shows as a kid. I loved that mix between the physical and mental thing, it was a real search to find a superman.
How does presenting a show like Tipping Point compare with GMTV?
Live TV is the most exciting thing in the world to do, whether it’s football, or on something like GMTV as anything can happen at any time. So you are always waiting for disaster to strike, although 80% of the time it doesn’t happen. This is a very different situation as I have four contestants all trying to do the best they can and I want them to be comfortable and we want to create the best programme we can. So it’s a very different skill but just as enjoyable.
Do you miss working on breakfast TV?
I don’t miss my alarm clock going off at 3.30am but I miss the mates I worked with, and the range of subjects we dealt with. One minute you’d be interviewing Madonna, the next it would be the Prime Minister, then someone who’d walked across the country and raised thousands for charity. And there is a real intimacy about that kind of broadcasting. Often you are the first person people will see in the morning.
As an avid football fan, you must be delighted to be working for Sky Sports now?
Moving into sports presenting is something that I had wanted to do for a long time, and Sky have changed the face of sports broadcasting. The audience is very discerning and often know more than I do. I don’t profess to be an expert which is why it’s great to sit down with ex players.
Taking part in every Soccer Aid has been a big thrill for you hasn’t it?
It’s extraordinary how exciting it is. One of the contestants on Tipping Point had been to Soccer Aid twice and said how incredible the atmosphere was. When you go to normal football matches, fans start leaving as soon as it’s over. But with this, everybody stays and enjoys the occasion, and it’s so noisy on the pitch you can’t hear each other speak. Martin Keown said the latest match reminded him of being at Highbury when Arsenal won the league. It takes you days to get over Soccer Aid, I was shattered for ages!
I’ve met lots of celebrities but I do get overawed about meeting the footballers. I ended up marking Clarence Seedorf and he played in the Champions League quarter final this year! And it was interesting playing alongside Aston and Marvin from JLS, who I’d not seen for a while, and Olly Murs. They are top blokes but I don’t know how they cope, they can’t go anywhere without people screaming at them! But they are so down to earth.
Another thrill must have been appearing in an episode of Friends?
Yes, it’s funny. Joey had a film premiere and I was among a gang of reporters on the red carpet. Whenever that episode turns up on TV, I always get tweets afterwards from people saying ‘Did I just see you on Friends?’ If any of the Friends boys ever play in Soccer Aid I will let them know that I was their co-star for about three seconds!
And you popped up in Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince too, having made shows about the for ITV…
Yes! My boys love Harry Potter. They have seen the moment that I am in, but I don’t think they really get it. My wife Annie and I took them to the studio tour and they loved that, and it was so great for me to be able to share my experience of the whole thing. There is a wand room and everyone who has been involved in the films has a wand box. And I’ve got one. It’s not far from where JK Rowling’s wand box is which makes it even more special.
One programme you never got to do was Strictly Come Dancing, as you’d have been a bit of a 'ringer', having studied dance…
That’s true, I didn’t get to do that. It would only have been tricky if I had been good, but it would have been awkward if I had been bad, as people would have said ‘I thought you were meant to be good at this?’ I don’t know what it is about GMTV presenters and that show, but they didn’t have a great track record…