Recommended second chance
Fashion expert Gok Wan has a new, very shiny hat on, as the presenter of dating game show Baggage — a show he describes as 'Blind Date with attitude!’ In a bid to win a romantic holiday away with a prospective partner, the contestants open larger and larger pieces of luggage — revealing more and more startling emotional baggage! Gok, 38, told TV Choice more.
Your version of Baggage must be very different from the US version, hosted by Jerry Springer.
Very different! Do you know what, the direct difference is the stories are very different — our baggage on the show is far lighter. The British contestants do shock with their baggage, but it’s just very funny.
On the American version the contestants barely got a chance to speak…
Oh my God, not on this one! The other difference between the American and the British show is that the British are far more voyeuristic, and the Americans just want to genuinely be shocked. But we Brits want to see behind the net curtains! That’s where the fun comes out, and so what we do is allow the contestants to really stand by their baggage and justify why that is their baggage, and we can sit and just watch and listen and enjoy, laugh, be shocked, and sometimes gasp with absolute horror! That’s the fun of it. I never imagined that the British public would be so honest about their baggage, but believe me they are! Every single episode.
Are you ever a little bit shocked?
Oh my God, yes! I’m not allowed to tell you any of the baggage, but completely. And I play the game as well, because, even though I rehearse with scripts, some of the answers I don’t know, genuinely, for that moment, so I don’t know who they’re going to pick. I don’t know what the baggage is, I don’t know what the surprise baggage is at the end. So I genuinely go on the journey with the contestants, and so my reaction is entirely real. Trust me, a couple of them have come on which have kind of disagreed with my own personal ethics, I’ve stood by mine as well, so you do find yourself doing that, going, ‘It’s your baggage, but I don’t agree with it, I could never agree with it, but I don’t have to live with it, it’s your baggage.’ And that’s how real this show is. You do find yourself empathising, and you respect them for being very honest, but then you do find yourself completely disagreeing with how they run their lives. It’s fascinating.
So the baggage gets bigger and bigger?
Yes. The tagline is, ‘The bigger the bag, the bigger the baggage’. So we start off very small and then we end up with a great whacking bag, with a great whacking dark secret. Then there are a couple of other rounds, which kind of just fill the gap, when a contestant won’t be picking, it’s just to add more of a story.
Do you want to be able to do bit of everything on TV?
Yes, this is what I kind of wanted at the very beginning. I love fashion, and fashion has absolutely given me the career that I’ve got now, and I would never turn my back on it, it’s absolutely my first passion, and what I feel absolutely most confident in doing. But I love making the cooking show and the documentaries, writing the books, I love everything that I do, and now that I’ve got the opportunity to do entertainment as well — I’m so grateful for the fact that I can dip in and out because it’s a really, really hard industry, and it’s very hard to keep people sitting and watching your shows.
I’m honoured to have such a loyal viewership, people who tune in every week to watch the different programmes that I do. Hopefully on the one hand it’s because they’re good, but also that they still enjoy what I’ve got to say, and doing the entertainment show now has given me the opportunity to show another side of my personality, and another one of my opinions. Also, there’s an incredible showmanship inside me that I had way before I started in fashion, when I was much younger and training to be an actor!
Channel 4 Friday