Comedians Jon Richardson and Lucy Beaumont put their own marriage flaws to one side to judge everyone else’s, by inviting two unsuspecting celebrity couples to go head-to-head and decide who has the best relationship in this new comedy panel show.
First up are Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev, and Richard Herring and Catie Wilkins who are made to tackle an impossibly dirty bathroom, have a nightmare makeover and discover that Rachel Riley pees in the shower during our alarming lie detector test…
Here, Jon and Lucy tell us about their new show, how they found presenting together and about the oddest couple they know…
Tell us about Jon & Lucy’s Odd Couples and what we can expect from it…
Jon: It’s a panel show for couples. As well as the games in the studio we’ve had a day with each couple at a retreat where we put them through various tasks to test their relationship, in the hope their relationships are even weaker than ours, so we come away feeling better about ourselves.
This isn’t your usual panel show or Mr & Mrs competition, what attracted you to the idea?
Lucy: We like working together and enjoy Meet the Richardsons and we really wanted to make something that people could relate to. Even though we have celebrity couples on the show, it’s universal themes and you don’t even really need to be in a relationship to relate to it. Some of the things we talk about apply to families, it’s all about human interactions. Jon’s done topical panel shows and things and it felt really nice to do something a bit silly and light entertainment. We’re laughing about who wees in the shower and things like that. It was so much fun.
This is your first co-presenting gig. How have you found it?
J: Meet the Richardsons felt like it came naturally from the first episode because it’s so based in reality. This is more of a work job, links to camera are something that has taken a bit longer to get used to. Channel 4 has been amazing because it has given us time from the initial pilot to first episodes with lots of run throughs in-betweens. We’ve had time to get it right. But equally, we’re at our best when those bits down the camera are funny so we don’t want to get too good at them. We don’t want to lose Lucy getting it wrong and me laughing at her, or I suddenly go into slick mode and she takes the piss out of me for thinking I’m Mr Saturday Night.
Which couples will we see on the series and what can we expect from them?
J: We’ve got a really good mix of ages and backgrounds and it’s been genuinely fascinating to see how each couples’ relationship becomes the third guest. We’ve got couples where we know both know people, like Rachel Riley and Pascha Kovalev and we know them as individuals but then the way they interact is like a third element.
L: And we’ve never seen that before. You’ve seen me and Jon but we haven’t seen the other couples together before. Like Duncan James from Blue and his partner, Rodrigo, it’s a fairly new relationship and they don’t even live in the same country. And filming together was one of their date nights.
J: It’s Rodrigo’s first TV appearance.
L: He’s so sweet. Everyone should get a Rodrigo for Christmas.
J: It was amazing to see the interplay between everyone. We know Bobby Mair and Harriet Kemsley from the comedy circuit and seeing them together as a couple, I think they’ve got what we’ve got. Because they’re comics, they’re able to say quite brutal things to one another and laugh about it, whereas, in other relationships something seemingly innocuous can upset the other person.
L: Michael and Hilary Whitehall have been married for 36 years whereas Amanda Abbington and Jonathan Goodwin got engaged they first time they met. So we’ve got such different relationships. Harriet and Bobby’s relationship is all banter whereas Rachel and Pasha are so sweet with each other. It’s fascinating.
You set lots of challenges for the couples, things like stacking a dishwasher or packing a car boot. Are these things that cause disagreements in your household?
J: The idea is to put the couples into situations where they could very quickly have an argument. There’s a misconception with celebrities that everything is glitzy and glamorous, but this show has none of that and it’s celebrities you know having the exact same arguments you’re having at home. So we have packing for a holiday, filling the dishwasher, snoring… These arguments are universal, no matter who you are. We want couples at home to be nudging each other because it’s all so familiar, or single people raising a glass to themselves for being single.
Did anything you put the couples through cause any arguments you were genuinely worried about?
L: We thought we’d started something between Vicky Pattison and her fiancé, Ercan. They had to write a poem to each other and Ercan basically said Vicky’s accent went through him and he couldn’t understand what she was saying half the time. We thought there might be words when they got home.
J: But there’s nothing like an audience’s laughter to defuse an argument because you realise how non-sensical it is anyway. Meet the Richardsons is basically an excuse for us to channel tensions into comedy and you see that in the studio, someone might start saying something thinking they’re going to land a blow but as soon as us and the audience start laughing at them, they realise it’s all nonsense.
Do you have any standout moments from the series? Or a favourite couple?
J: I could watch Bobby and Harriet 24 hours a day. I would watch Big Brother if it was just them locked in their house.
L: I loved them all but Duncan James and Rodrigo are adorable.
J: Duncan is so well known and Rodrigo isn’t but that doesn’t matter, it’s the relationship that comes to the fore. The minute they walk into that first therapy session, even though Rodrigo is shy about the cameras, he knows what he wants to say about the mess Duncan makes when he has a shower.
L: We’ve got Kimberly Wyatt and Max Rodgers later in the series and if you follow them on Instagram they’re the most perfect couple but within 10 minutes of being on the show they’re arguing about how goes out to mend a fence or something while she’s inside with the kids and all the house work.
J: It proves what unique individuals stand-up comics are, too. You forget in civilised society how brutal we are to each other and there are no barriers. We had Sara Pasco and Steen Raskopoulos doing each other’s accents, which is one of my favourite parts of the series. The comic couples are fascinating to watch.
Married at First Sight’s Charlene Douglas is the series’ relationship expert. Do you think you tested the limits of her expertise?
L: Yes, probably. She was so clever at asking things like ‘do you think it’s fair to be asking that?’ and making the couples think.
J: She was also analysing me and Lucy and there are times we’ve got the couples completing a task but what Charlene is actually doing is watching me passively aggressively telling Lucy she’s using the stopwatch wrongly. We’d see Charlene scribbling down notes about us.
Have you learnt anything from filming the series? Either about yourselves or the nature of relationships in general?
L: We’ve learnt that all couples have beef with each other and have ongoing tensions about something. Everyone’s the same.
J: It’s not about whether you have issues or not, it’s about how you deal with the issues. There is no perfect couple. Michael and Hilary Whitehall were absolutely brutal to each other and it’s the lexicon of their marriage now.
L: I’d like to think that people watching who aren’t in a couple will think they’re ok and don’t need to rush into anything.
J: I would punish any handholding or kissing in the studio as well. We don’t want any of that.
Can you tell us a story about the oddest couple you know?
L: We know a couple that met when they were 15 and 16. They’re best friends, they never argue, they don’t spend a lot of money, they don’t go on expensive holidays, they go to the same caravan site every year and have done for 18 years. They always enjoy it, even if it’s raining and they’re just stuck in the caravan together. They enjoy each other’s company and they do everything together. It’s hard to believe they’re real.
J: The oddness by the way is just how happy they are.
L: They’re so happy, it’s amazing.
J: They’re so kind and generous and it's just weird. We’re waiting the big reveal, aren’t we?
L: We’re waiting for them to snap at each other and it just never happens.
J: Or something bigger than that, like ‘Don’t go in the basement!’
L: They are true love and it’s hard to believe it really exists
Jon & Lucy’s Odd Couples, Friday 13th January, 9pm, Channel 4 & All 4