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I TALK TO Chris Stark

I recently caught up with BBC Radio One's Chris Stark to talk about The Celeb Hunter: 2 Chairs 1 Chat and of course THAT interview.

One of the biggest viral videos of last year was a now infamous interview with Hollywood A-Lister Mila Kunis. The interview was carried out by BBC Radio 1's Chris Stark as part of The Scott Mills Show back in March. If you haven't seen it, you really should. It's one of the best/most awkward interviews I've ever seen and less than a year on since that video went viral, the doors appear to have opened for Chris Stark.


Shortly after the Mila Kunis interview, Chris interviewed Jennifer Aniston which again was equally unorthodox, but very entertaining. So now Chris Stark has an idea, to make his own mobile chat show and this is all documented in his new Channel 4 show, The Celeb Hunter: 2 Chairs, 1 Chat. Armed only with his dad’s two camping chairs, one with one cup holder, one with two, he wants to meet some of his 'legends' face to face.


Before we talk about The Celeb Hunter, I have to ask you about Mila Kunis. Have you taken her to see Watford play yet and has she had a lad-bomb with you and your mates?


No, unfortunately not. It's one of those things where, I think it may have been a false promise, you know? They say they're going to do something, then they never do! In all seriousness, no, I haven't heard from her. As I always say, the invitation's there. I have to admit, it is a bit of a hard sell isn't it? I mean, it is a Watford game after all and a drink down the local, but you live in hope.


What's it been like for you since that Mila Kunis interview went viral? It's now got over 12 million views.


It's ridiculous. I still genuinely can't believe it, because I remember when I did the interview I came out of it and I called Scott (Mills), to apologise. I mean, I really felt bad about it, I really thought I'd mucked it up. I do look back on that week and it was just a really strange week.


It's a really tricky one that, because it really did just explode and go everywhere, at the time it was kind of odd, and looking back on it it's kind of odd. But, it was fun and it's led to this TV show now and you've got to understand that I find every single bit of this ridiculous. I cannot believe I've got a job on Radio 1, I cannot believe I sat down with Mila Kunis, and now I cannot believe I've got this TV show.


Let's talk about The Celeb Hunter then, how did the show come about?


When the Mila Kunis interview happened, and then I did one with Jennifer Aniston, they got quite a lot of views and then I basically had this idea. At the time I was quite lucky because at the time, a couple of people got in touch who were interested in me.


And they asked me "Do you have any ideas? Is there anything you'd like to do?" and so I had this idea and I didn't think anyone would particularly like it, but someone did. That in itself has been a bit of mad journey, because that's gone from me and this idea to this situation now where Channel 4 suddenly became interested and now are putting it out.


How would you best describe the programme?


That's a tricky question actually. It's my attempt at creating a chat show. No one is going to give me a chat show for obvious reasons - I'm awful. So I thought to myself that when you look at what a chat show is, it's basically two chairs - and they're always in a studio. So I thought well if that's the only difference then what I'll do is I'll try, and I've treated it just like my own little project, to make my own chat show. But it's not going to be in a studio.


A bit like when you were saying earlier about taking Mila Kunis to the pub or to a Watford game, the idea was that we'd find some celebrities, and get them out of that normal environment, to do a chat show that feels different. So you get them in a pub, or at a driving range. That was the big aim with it. I had this weird vision of Morgan Freeman in a Pizza Hut buffet. It's that kind of thing.


So I suppose in essence it's an attempt at me trying to create a chat show but obviously it's everything that comes with it. So it's us trying to contact the celebs, I get my mates involved, and we draw up a list. We do lots of silly things to try and get hold of these people and we travel around the UK and go to meet them. We spent a day at Derek Acorah's house. So that was the whole point, it was meant to be a lot of fun. You know what? I always have these ideas and on the show and Scott goes with them and we test them out, but this was my biggest project yet, because I found myself dedicating a lot of my time to it, and it was just a lot of fun. It's me and a guy called Matt Rudge who has made a lot of good documentaries, and we really just had a laugh. We became really good friend because of it, and this was all just a lot of fun.


In the episode Ricky Hatton comes down to your local and plays darts with your mates. What was that like?


It was amazing! It was great, because I tried to keep my friends involved as much as possible because they're used to some of the weird things that I do and when I first told them about this idea, we drew up a list of people that would be cool to meet and they were all really behind it. It's amazing having someone like Ricky Hatton, who's a big sporting hero but is actually quite shy, he's quite a quiet bloke for a fighter.


So we managed to convince him to come down to the pub and play darts with my mates, and what's amazing is that my mates are having such a good time having Ricky there, and actually one of my mate, Sir Dossa, actually beat Ricky Hatton and is so proud of that. For me, getting him in that environment it felt like the barriers were taken down a bit.


I think normal studio chatshows have real professional presenters, like Jonathan Ross or Graham Norton, who are really good at breaking down those barriers, but also people respect them. Now I'm not a professional so I just play to my strengths really, and that's have a couple of drinks and just try and get everyone to chill out. And I just find that you learn more.


Was that your plan all the way through, to break down these barriers?


As I said, it's just this idea that I had to get celebrities out of their normal environment, and less about their world. We all know they have nice houses and everything that goes with it, but I'm more interested in finding out what relates me to a famous person.


I try and find the common ground - at least that's the big aim. For me it was all just a right laugh and I genuinely can't believe it's going to be on TV on Monday. It's like a joke. I genuinely can't understand how this is happening, and even talking to yourself, I just find the whole thing nuts.


What feels so funny about this, is how supportive everyone has been, it's like everyone knows that this shouldn't really be on TV, but they know that they're going to have a right laugh watching it and find the idea of me on TV quite funny.


Who else would be on your 'list of legends' if there were to be more episodes of The Celeb Hunter?


My big aim is to get Elton John. I really really really want to get Elton John. For the obvious reasons with Watford Football Club, but also he's from where I'm from and he's a massive star. He's the polar opposite of me in every way and it'd be amazing to sit down and get him, I know I keep saying it, but down to a Pizza Hut buffet or something.


I like the idea of these massive stars just doing quite normal things, so I think if we get the opportunity again, and it's a one-off this, it really will come down to whether people like it and go along with it. For me, either way I'm so happy, and so ridiculously excited for it to come out, that if it's a one-off I'm just as happy.


But if people like it, there are lots of people in America who would be quite nice, my dream scenario would be to get all the original Ghostbusters back together again. At the end of the day, the is is just my list of people, the reason we wanted people like Derek Akorah is not exactly because they're the most famous, but it's because if you had all those people that I had on, and had them in a chat show in the normal traditional sense, I think it would be a really good show.


It doesn't just need to be my list you know, there's the hope that if we do do this again, people could submit their own list and we can go after people for them.


How did you come up with the locations for the interviews? In particular I'm thinking Verne Troyer in a Watford arcade.


Well it's amazing how much information is on the internet. So when you're trying to track them down, it's not difficult to find out stuff about them. Verne Troyer, and it's all over his Facebook and Twitter, is mad about gaming. He's even got, I think, his PlayStation user tag name on his Facebook for people to play against him.


So when we were thinking for somewhere cool to interview him, that for me just seemed perfect. I used to go there a lot when I was younger and  it was wicked because like I said, I feel like you can break down barriers with it and I just hope that they hanse a good time and enjoy it.


I'm never nasty or anything like that.


I must talk to you about the Watford pitch invasion. What was that like and how did the idea come about?


Ah, it was amazing! Mate, I'm the biggest Watford fan, so for me to run onto the pitch was great. We managed to, through a friend of a friend of a friend get in contact with the stadium announcer, so he was in on it. It was still terrifying, because the stewards didn't know that I was doing it. It was well scary, but there was a moment where I was like - "This is so cool." - but then there is that part of you who's waiting for someone to rugby tackle you from you from behind. So to answer your question, it was scary but very fun and I don't regret doing it at all.


My idea was to put a number up on the big screen, because I believe in the 6 degrees of separation so there's going to someone in that ground who knows someone who's Elton John's gardener. But actually what ended up happening is that I bought a little pay as you go phone and we were getting loads of texts but I was getting loads of abuse. There were a few people who said - "I know so and so", but they either turned out to be fake, or kind of like unreliable. So nothing came of it in the end.


If all went well with the one-off would you be up for doing more?


I'd love to do more. But it really does depend, people might not buy into this idea, people might think this is actually the worst chat show ever made. It is just me, but it's so hard for some people to understand that it's not a massively thought through thing. There's not a science.


When people talk about the Mila Kunis interview, I see these people breaking down hoe technical it was or how clever it was - and no it wasn't! It was just me, pissing around basically, just me, nervous in a situation that I was really uncomfortable with and reacting to it.


Especially if you don't listen to the radio show, I really hope people understand that I am just completely out of my depth, and every day I'm grateful to be at Radio 1, but find it incredible that I am. And it's the same with this TV show, it's almost a TV show about making a TV show. I really hope people see that I'm doing what other people want to do and showing how we go about it.

The Celeb Hunter: 2 Chairs, 1 Chat airs Monday 10th February at 10pm on Channel 4

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