Interview with Pete Wicks and Sam Thompson

Category: Press Pack Article

Pete Wicks

How are you feeling about joining The Circle?

It's just such a good concept. Everyone goes on about catfishes, a lot of people have been catfished, or have been used as catfish. So I think it's just quite a good social experiment, isn’t it? I think me and Sam doing it together is going to be quite funny, because we could not be any more different if we tried. Us trying to join together to be someone else is all kinds of weird, if I'm honest about it.


Why have you decided to play the game as Rachel Riley?

We tried to think of someone that is as different as you could get from us. I mean, firstly, she's intelligent, we're not. She's a woman, we're not. She just seems like a really nice person, so that's going to be quite difficult for me to try and pretend that I'm a nice person. She's got a few things that me and him could potentially get by with. She was born in Essex, I'm from Essex. That's about it, really.


How's your maths?

Do you know what, Sam's is pretty bad. The only time he does anything to do with numbers I think is when he's checking daddy's bank balance. But I'm not too bad with numbers. I'm not a brainiac, but I'm not too bad with numbers. So I'm hoping if there is anything to do with numbers, that I'll be able to put us through. If not, we're both going to look like a pair of idiots.


Does she know that you're going to be playing her?

I don't know if she does, she’ll probably think, “who are these two kids?” To be honest with you, she's probably gutted. I would be gutted, so I don't know how they convinced her that it's alright for us to try and play the game as her! We could have all kinds of problems going on.


Have you done lots of research into her?

We've done a little bit on Wikipedia. I've got quite a photographic memory. Sam doesn't. And so being a woman, I mean, I look like a woman from behind, so that might give us a leg up. And Sam's quite feminine, so I think we're going to be all right there.


Have you got a game plan at all?

I don't have a game plan. I was going to say it's always better just to be yourself. Not really. So, no, we haven't really got a game plan, I think we're just going to wing it.


How are you feeling about knowingly misleading people?

That doesn't bother me in the slightest. I think that's probably a good thing, us picking Rachel Riley, because if we'd have picked a single person, then it probably would've been slightly different, because I think Sam had it in his head that he wanted to pretend to be a girl and try and chat everyone up. And I don't know if that was just for his own benefit, he wants to try to chat up men or what. I think that could be quite dangerous.


How are you feeling about being filmed 24/7?

For me, it's not too bad because I'm fairly normal, but Sam's quite happy just wandering around his house in his pants all the time. Every time I turn up at his to film or do anything, he's in boxers or in his pants. So I'm hoping that there's going to be some sort of rule where we have to wear clothes, because I'm not sure everyone wants to see Sam Thompson's willy on telly.


Will we see a different side to you that we haven’t seen on other shows?

Yeah, probably. I haven't really thought of it like that, to be honest with you. But I'm quite chilled, and I generally like being on my own, which is going to be a real issue. Genuinely, I'm nervous about living with Sam. He's like the Duracell bunny, and he's like that 24/7. I sometimes think that maybe he just gets excited when he sees me. If he's like that 24/7, I'm going to have an absolutely disastrous time. I'm quite chilled, and I like being quiet, I can just sit and stare into space for hours. Makes me sound exciting, doesn't it? But Sam, if he's like that all the time, it could be interesting.


What do you make of social media?

Oh, I hate it. I'm not very good on social media. Sam basically calls me a caveman, because I still call things V-logs and I don't really understand GIFs, TikTok, and all that crap, it’s just not my cup of tea. So, that's why he's there. That's his job, to understand all that, and how to come across on social media. I think if people look at my social media, they generally think I'm just a miserable dog person, a crazy, old dog man. He should deal with that a little better than I will.


Have you had to deal with trolls and if so how do you deal with it?

Anyone who’s in the public eye has had some form of trolling. I've had death threats and all sorts of things over the years. I'm generally quite thick-skinned about it, it doesn't really phase me, I couldn't really give a monkey what Karen in Doncaster thinks of me. As long as the people that know me don't think I'm too bad, I'm not really fussed with people that don't know me, how they formed an impression of me based on what they've seen on the telly. Sam really cares about that stuff. He reads every comment, any picture he puts up, he'll read every single comment, anything we do, every comment. For him, I think he's probably had it a lot worse than I have.


You must have women sliding into your DMs?

Yeah, now and then, but you never know if it's a woman, it could be Barry sat in his underpants, you know what I mean? It could be anyone, couldn't it? You do get a few people sliding in here and there.


And are you conscious about what you post?

You've got to be, but I think you can't please everyone and you're never going to please everyone. Everyone knows the difference between right and wrong, and as long as you're not genuinely going out to offend people, or saying ridiculous stuff, it really shouldn't be a worry. If you've got to worry about what you're saying all the time, it's probably because what you're saying isn't the right thing to say anyway. This is one of the things me and Sam differ on, he just likes to please everyone. Whereas if I think someone's an idiot, I'm going to tell them. Also, I've got a really dry, dark sense of humour, and Sam's sense of humour is the level of laughing at whoopee cushions. So what I find funny sometimes people don't. But you never mean to offend people, but genuinely, as long as you’ve got half a brain, you shouldn't offend people anyway.


You caused a bit of an internet furore for supposedly picking on Sam?

Yeah, and then everyone starts worrying about him, but they take things out of context. Like I was on the way up to Manchester in the car, and I had a beer. I thought I'll put it on my social media, saying, "Four and a half hour drive, got the essentials." I got inundated with messages from people saying, "Can't believe you're drink driving." So I got another post of me in the back of the car, for all the simpletons that think I'm drink driving, you know what I mean? Everyone's got something to say about everything, and you have to get over that, but it is what it is.


Do you ever think about quitting social media?

I treat it like a work tool. Anything that goes on social media is stuff you're happy for people to see. My real life doesn't really go on it. I don't put my family on, or anything to do with that because you're opening yourself up. I remember years ago, I put up a picture of my nan and someone said, "Your grandad looks well," taking the piss out of my Nan. She's 80 years old. I thought, I'm never going to do that again because you're always going to get some idiot who's going to say something. So you're better off just putting on things that you're happy for people to scrutinise.


So you’re protective over your private life?

That's what people don't realise, as much as you do reality or whatever else, you're a version of yourself. Still yourself, but you're still a version of yourself. The people that are in my real life, that I see every day, they know me. As long as I don't upset or offend them, I couldn't really give a monkeys what everyone else thinks. If you spend your life worrying what everyone else thinks, then you're not really going to have much of a life, are you?


This series is for Stand Up to Cancer…

Yeah, I've done stuff for Stand Up to Cancer before, and it’s something that means quite a lot to me. I’ve had cancer in the family and I know a couple of people that have been through the dreaded big C. I did a podcast with a lady called Kristin Hallenga from CoppaFeel. She got breast cancer at the age of 23, and she had a mastectomy. She's one of the most amazing, inspiring people I've ever met. So she's amazing.


When you see someone going through cancer, does it give you perspective on your life?

It puts everything in perspective. It's really easy, especially if you are in the public eye or whatever else, to get wrapped up in this fictional world. Actually, real life isn't like that. A lot of people are too worried about the destination they're going to, they forget the journey they're on. We've only got one go at life and I think you need to try to make the most of it, as best you can. So it's important to be grateful for the good things you've got in your life. A lot of people like to harp on about all the bad shit that happens, and it's terrible, but everyone has bad shit. Everyone does. But we're all fortunate to still be alive and kicking.



Sam Thompson

How excited are you to be joining The Circle?

You know what? I'm going to be honest with you. The reason I've done this is because Pete Wicks will be contractually obliged to live with me for six days! That is 95% of the reason I'm doing this, and I've always wanted to be a catfish and I get to be now. What a brilliant opportunity.


Why is it that you want to live with Pete so much?

Because we're just brothers! He is my Karl Pilkington. I love watching him. He's the most interesting bloke. He's like a man's man and I just love being around him, and I know it sounds so weird, but when lockdown happened, they were like, "You've got to isolate with your people." You had a day to go and decide who you were going to isolate with, right? Well I tried to travel to Pete's. I tried to be like, "We're going to lock down together, boy." And he said no, which my girlfriend was very happy about, because then I actually got to see her, but that was the game plan. Now I actually get to do it! And Stand Up to Cancer, the guys and girls who work for them, I've been very, very privileged to work with them quite a few times in the past, and they are some of the hardest working, selfless people I've ever met. Any chance I have to work with them, whether it's TV or whether it's a campaign, anything, I always jump at the chance, because they're awesome.


Aside from living with Pete, what is it about The Circle as a game that excites you?

It's pretending to be someone you're not. I know that sounds so horrible, but it's quite fun, right? Have you ever watched Catfish on MTV? I love that show. It's so good. It's like a challenge, isn't it? You're like, can I pass off as someone completely different? You wouldn't want to be anyone kind of close to home. That's why we picked Rachel Riley, because it's just completely left field, and it's like if we can accomplish that, it will feel really cool.


Why do you think you've got more chance of being successful as Rachel rather than Pete and Sam?

I think we actually would be more successful being Pete and Sam, personally, but, well, actually, I don't know. Pete's very Marmite and so am I, actually! So, actually, no, we would probably do better as Rachel Riley, but also I think that you only get one chance to really be someone else, right? Why would you be yourself? That's not very fun. I want to push boundaries, and I want Pete to flirt as Rachel!


How will you react if you're in the game with somebody that's friends with her?

That's a problem, and the only thing I would say is you're just unlucky then. I think if they go, "Well, why have you left your kid at home?" Be like, "Oh, well..." There's a lot of ways you can weasel your way out of problems, I think. And me, I'm a class A weasel, so I think we'll be okay!


How are you going to cope living together 24/7?

I did Big Brother, so six days is nothing. Nothing. Pete's going to live with me, I feel sorry for him. I just can't wait to wake up in the morning and go, "Would you like a tea?" Do you know what I mean? I want to feel like he's my roommate. That's what I want.


How will you entertain yourself?

I'm bringing Twister and I want to play games. There's no way I'm just going to sit there all night doing nothing. I'm playing games with him every single day! I think he's going to just try and ignore the fact I'm there, but he can't ignore me forever. He was like, "I reckon I'm going to last one day with you." Like, give me more than a day. Come on, mate. Look, do you know what? I sorely believe that we are meant to be brothers. We are. We are brothers, just from different mothers, and I really, really believe that he will understand that once this is over. I really, really do. I think what would be my favourite bit, is if we win it and he turns around and goes, "Sam? See? You, sir, are my brother." And I'd be all, "Mission complete. Return to base!”


The theme of this show is social media. What do you make of it?

We live in a social media life, right? It's almost like we've all been groomed for this very moment. We WhatsApp, email, texts, slide into DMs, tweet each other more than we ever see each other and we ever will. I think the way the world is now is we do this anyway. It's not as weird as people once thought anymore, which is scary and slightly sad, but it is the way it is, so actually nothing's really changed. We are such quick typists now, it’s like we're having an essay conversation in the space of 30 seconds. I actually see that as being a boon for us, me and Pete live in the digital age maybe slightly more than people who are a bit older than us. It might give us the edge in this game.


There's a dark side to it as well. How do you cope with that?

The darker sides of social media, I personally think that every edited photo on Instagram should have a #edited next to it. I think that should be a legal requirement, because I think that will show boys or girls that what they're looking for is in some way, shape, or form, unattainable. That would be a really important thing moving forward. No one's done it, obviously, but I think that things implemented like that would definitely help the younger generation moving forward to show that it's not all what it seems. People almost jump on bandwagons they don't necessarily believe in. Social media is a place where I can never tell if people are being real or not, in terms of what they believe or how they think. Are you just saying something because you think that's what people want to hear? I see a lot of people who are like, "This is my natural body now." Are you just doing that for likes, though, or are you doing that because you're actually trying to help people? You don't even know anymore. Everything is so complex and everything is done for likes and accomplishments and careers now, that I don't even know whether people are doing something for good reasons or bad reasons. I just don't know anymore, and I think the world of social media, it just complicates so much that it's very tough. It's very tough. But luckily, I was the last generation, I think, to sort of be barefoot outside and all that kind of stuff and climbing trees, I feel like I got the best of both worlds.


Who's the most famous person who follows you, and who's the most famous person that you've had a conversation with over social media?

Do you know who's really fucking cool? I interviewed him once and he's the sexiest man alive, Jack Savoretti. He's a musician. He is one of the coolest blokes, and just someone who I never would have expected to watch any of my stuff, but he watched one of my reality news shows that I do with Pete and messaged like, "You guys are hilarious, man. Keep it up." I can't believe Jack Savoretti, this smooth bloke, even knows of my Instagram page. That was a real cool thing! Jimmy Ballard messaged on one of my videos I did with Pete again, and that was cool. Look, I get starstruck pretty easily, to be honest. I'm very aware that I'm not even z-list, might even be less, if there was a less. Anyone who messages me, I'm like, that's so cool!


What is your ambition for the next 12 months?

Well, I have two ambitions, two career goals. One is to host an entertainment show with Pete and then move it over to America, because I genuinely believe we could do it, and I believe in the chemistry we have, and I believe that we bring a smile to people's faces. That is the dream, but it's very hard to get people to give you an opportunity, especially when you come from reality TV. The second one would be to be a sport presenter. I'm a massive football fan, and if I could do any sort of sport presenting, if I could make a living out of those two things, I'd be a happy bloke. Then in my personal life, I think that to be able to do what I love and be with the person I love would be so fucking fortunate. The last 12 months have made me realise just how lucky I am. I know that sounds so cliché, but it’s true. I feel very lucky.