‘This is it. I’m winning!’ Mo Gilligan on his new Saturday night TV blockbuster

3 months ago 61

The archetypal clip I interviewed the comedian – and present TV prima – Mo Gilligan, helium was inactive connected the verge of major-league success, his days folding jeans successful high-street retail lone months down him. “I consciousness similar you’ve grown up with me, Brian,” helium laughs erstwhile we conscionable again today. “You’ve seen maine from the start, innit? You’ve seen my hairsbreadth and my teeth change.”

I’d emotion to corroborate this lengthy career-long connection, but that archetypal interview was lone 3 and a fractional years ago. It’s conscionable that, since then, the 34-year-old has enjoyed what each glittering Gilligan illustration describes arsenic “a meteoric rise”. It’s 1 perfectly symbolised by the circumstances of our brushwood contiguous – connected the sky-high apical level of NBC Universal’s London HQ, a jaw-dropping panorama of the superior framing Gilligan arsenic helium talks.

The NBC transportation is Mo’s caller amusement That’s My Jam. Produced for the BBC, it’s bound for Saturday primetime, a glamorous gameshow successful which celebrities undertake music-based stunts and challenges. It represents the latest measurement successful Gilligan’s all-conquering battle connected the airwaves, which took successful his ain treble Bafta-winning Channel 4 conveyance The Lateish Show and a judging gig connected ITV’s The Masked Singer, earlier helium hosted this year’s Brit awards and a recent reboot of The Big Breakfast. “I feel,” helium says of each these feathers successful his cap, “like this is it. I’m winning. I’m enjoying it. It’s fun. And I person to bask it, due to the fact that time isn’t promised.”

‘Get maine  connected  a mic, I tin  springiness  you immoderate   bars!’ … Gilligan with Alesha Dixon, Michelle Visage, Jenna Ushkowitz and Kevin McHale connected  That’s My Jam.’
‘Get maine connected a mic, I tin springiness you immoderate bars!’ … Gilligan with Alesha Dixon, Michelle Visage, Jenna Ushkowitz and Kevin McHale connected That’s My Jam.’ Photograph: Monkey Kingdom/BBC

As anyone who’s watched Gilligan’s fantabulous standup tin testify, portion of his sizeable entreaty is his unaffected boy-next-door humility, intact adjacent arsenic his beingness is transformed by personage (see the recent Netflix peculiar There’s Mo to Life). I’ve seen galore comics stumble erstwhile required to quadrate the ellipse betwixt newfound stardom and their everyman persona. But not Gilligan. His modesty seems genuine, and successful speech helium is simply a survey successful niceness that would beryllium wholly disarming, prevention for its occasional descent into blandness (“It’s astir taking each task arsenic it comes”).

It’s a constituent of rule for Gilligan not to instrumentality his stellar caller beingness for granted. “I don’t privation to normalise it,” helium says. “Because each clip I look around, I’m like, ‘This isn’t normal.’”

It truly isn’t agelong since helium was sneaking into his workplace loo astatine the Levi’s store connected London’s Oxford Street to upload sketches to YouTube (“Get a coupla cans in, Julie!”). Now he’s being chauffeur-driven to enactment successful Hollywood, “driving past the clocktower from Back to the Future connected the mode to the set. I was like: ‘Oh my gosh’” – his trademark operation – “‘that is amazing!’ The time I consciousness similar ‘This is simply a mean thing’ is the time I mightiness request to instrumentality a small break.”

Good luck fitting that interruption in. That clocktower sighting happened en way to the filming of That’s My Jam’s US edition, fronted by Jimmy Fallon, from whose late-night talkshow the format was cannibalised. The American That’s My Jam was nary sooner conceived than plans were hatched for a UK refit, and – by Gilligan’s relationship – Fallon himself poached the Londoner for the gig. “He was like: ‘I’ve seen your stuff, you’re hilariously comic and you’ll beryllium cleanable for it.’ And that was a large woody for me. He didn’t beryllium maine immoderate of that.” Gilligan was shipped retired to Tinseltown, wherever helium archetypal shadowed Fallon earlier signaling his ain instrumentality connected the show.

with AJ Odudu connected  The Big Breakfast.
Hitting the large clip …with AJ Odudu connected The Big Breakfast. Photograph: James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock

It’s odd, perhaps, that the British mentation was filmed successful the US, with a guest-list (Nicole Scherzinger, Jason Derulo, Ricki Lake) that skews American, if not exclusively. It seems to person been a money-saving move: the 2 versions stock an “absolutely amazing” acceptable and immoderate originative talent. “We’ve got this instrumentalist called Adam Blackstone,” says Gilligan, “he composes for the Super Bowl, helium works with Dr Dre, Justin Timberlake and Jay Z. But present helium is moving with me!”

It’s a imagination travel true, due to the fact that “in my heart”, says Mo, “I’m a musician.” He cites euphony arsenic an power connected his standup and says helium grew up successful a philharmonic environment. “I cognize I can’t sing,” helium admits. “But get maine connected a mic, I tin springiness you immoderate bars!” He gets the accidental connected That’s My Jam, with a crippled called Take connected Mo (this antheral loves a self-referential pun). “I rap a verse of a celebrated way implicit a hip-hop beat, and you person to conjecture what the opus is.” Other rounds see Launch the Mic, wherever contestants indispensable occurrence a foam microphone skywards past drawback it earlier they tin reply Mo’s questions. “These are world-renowned entertainers. And you get to spot their puerility selves travel out. They’re like, ‘We privation to occurrence it!’ That’s what’s truly endearing astir the show.”

Collecting a Bafta for The Lateish Show.
Collecting a Bafta for The Lateish Show. Photograph: James Veysey/Rex/Shutterstock for Bafta

Actually, its astir endearing diagnostic whitethorn good beryllium Gilligan himself, with his unshowy charisma and a relatability that makes mincemeat of assemblage demographics. In his standup, helium has a regular astir the “code-switching” required successful a erstwhile occupation astatine the Jo Malone perfume store. But successful his career, helium seems hardly to code-switch astatine all, delivering “black-boy joy” (his words) via The Lateish Show alongside Netflix-conquering standup and mainstream lite-ent portion ever remaining open, upbeat Mo. “I consciousness similar that’s been the happening that’s ever steered maine through. Doing this show, Jimmy said: ‘Be yourself. Be you.’ And immoderate I’ve done, I’ve ever been fixed that licence to beryllium me.”

Not everyone finds “being me” that elemental – peculiarly erstwhile their presumption is morphing arsenic accelerated arsenic Gilligan’s. “To beryllium portion of Saturday nighttime TV,” helium says of That’s My Jam, “it’s like, ‘Woah!’ I’m portion of a dynasty.’ Bruce Forsyth. The X Factor. Ant and Dec.” Gilligan learned his commercialized from Ant and Dec, helium says, by studying their trade erstwhile guesting connected Saturday Night Takeaway. And present helium ascends to a spot by their broadside successful the pantheon of the televisual gods. “This lad came up to maine yesterday,” says Gilligan. “He said: ‘My mum loves you, man.’ That’s the satellite I’m successful now. It went from 18-year-olds astatine the Wireless festival saying, ‘Yo, coupla cans! Say the catchphrase!’ And present they’re like: ‘Bro, my mum and dada emotion you. Mind if I get a picture?’”

The evident adjacent step, if Gilligan is to support his meteoric acceleration, is the movies – and definite enough, he’s astir to pb the formed of animated diagnostic 10 Lives, lending his dependable to its feline hero. A performing arts postgraduate who discontinue acting for drama – and whose standup is distinguished by his acting quality – Gilligan is returning to his archetypal love, and perfectly blessed to bash truthful successful cartoon form. “There’s a constituent wherever I’m playing a feline stuck successful a tube. So there’s maine doing an content of what that’s like. It’s thing caller that I ne'er thought I would do.”

It’s easy, successful Gilligan’s company, to instrumentality his saccharine quality astatine look value. But I person to ask: Mo, is determination a acheronian broadside to this gilded communicative of honest-to-goodness niceness and stellar success? There is – but it’s 1 that lone reinforces the consciousness that Gilligan is simply a good chap with his feet connected the crushed and his bosom squarely wherever it should be.

Gilligan connected  stage
Crowdpleaser … connected signifier for his Netflix peculiar There’s Mo to Life. Photograph: Photo Credit: Matt Frost/Matt Frost

“In presumption of my antagonistic qualities,” helium says, “it’s astir becoming a workaholic. I’m trying to marque definite that I americium inactive a bully uncle, that I’m a member that’s present, that I’m determination for my friends. And not conscionable moving each the time. That could conscionable beryllium astir sending idiosyncratic a speedy ‘Happy birthday!’ text. It’s those small moments erstwhile you privation to beryllium contiguous successful the lives of the radical that support you grounded. They ever springiness a batch to me. I privation to marque definite I bash the aforesaid and that it’s an adjacent exchange.”

Happily, Gilligan has “good household and friends who support maine connected the consecutive and narrow”. Long whitethorn this continue, helium hopes. “I travel from a working-class background. If I ever felt I couldn’t spell backmost to wherever I live, that is erstwhile you’d suffer yourself. It’s a large woody for me. I inactive spell to my section barber’s to get a trim – and I hold successful the queue similar everyone else. I get nary peculiar attraction due to the fact that I’m connected TV.”

Might that soon change, with Saturday primetime beckoning? “I don’t privation nary peculiar treatment, Brian. That would beryllium atrocious barbershop etiquette. That’s not for me. I won’t beryllium skipping the barber queue conscionable yet.”

  • That’s My Jam begins connected BBC One connected 17 December

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