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I TALK TO Lou Sanders

"Why the f**k aren't women hosting their own shows?!"

It's Dave's brand new comedy show and as the title would suggest - Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable - is hosted by Mel Giedroyc and sees some of the nation’s favourite celebrities compete to convince Mel that they are the most unforgivable person in the room.

To do this, they have to dredge up their most outrageous sins, lies, legal transgressions and morally bankrupt behaviour. Each week, three celebrities come clean, but Mel's not alone, because also probing the celebs for all their dastardly details is comedian Lou Sanders who is by Mel's side throughout.

Guests throughout the series include Clare Balding, Desiree Burch, Graham Norton, Josh Widdicombe, Jimmy Carr, Judi Love, Richard Ayoade, Sindhu Vee, Tom Allen and many more!

I recently caught up with Lou to find out more about the show, what it was like to work with Mel and the significance of a new show fronted by two women.

Am I right in thinking you were supposed to film around the same time as the first lockdown?

Yes, that's right. We were about to start filming and then Boris announced lockdown that same night. So we actually ended up filming the series six months later, to the day.

When we were having rehearsals - the first time, when we had more time and we were together in the same room - I remember Mel saying she was worried about "this Covid thing", and that we might have to stop filming. I was like "No! Don't be silly!" - then look what happened. It was a bit like when I told my boyfriend not to get a mobile phone because it wouldn't catch on!

How would you describe Unforgivable?

Celebrities come on and describe gross and terrible things that they've done - and we all have a laugh together. And we also have members of the public come and do the same. It's a celebration of shame really.

What's your role in the show?

It's definitely not co-host, I don't do enough work for that. I would settle on sidekick. Mel (Giedroyc) says I'm her PA, but if she thinks I'm her PA then she's got very low self-esteem because I think she can get a much better PA. Organisation is not my strong point!

I have to summarise what the celebrities say. We had to have a reason for me to be there, rather than just having a lark! So it's me summarising what's going on and also reading out facts about celebrities who might have done the same thing - "you've got this in common with someone" for example.

Like with any first series, you're working out what works and we had so many funny ideas in the room and then we had to work out what would actually work on the show and what was too silly. What's my reason for being there?

We filmed two episodes a day so we found what works and what doesn't as we went along. There's a lot to film to then edit down. So I guess, my role is keeping a log in the book, but I'm not taking my role too seriously.

It's funny you say that, because part of the show's charm, I think, is that it doesn't take itself too seriously.

You never know what the edit's going to be and I've watched three of them now and I have to say, I love the edit because they do keep in stupid stuff. Mel delivers her lines in a really funny way - and I laugh at the way she delivers it, because it's really clunky. It's a really lovely moment and they've left that in. It's my dream show really, because a lot of it is in the moment.

They've also left in a lovely moment with Josh Widdicombe - where we were chatting for about 20 minutes before the show kicked in - and in the edit you see us talking for three or four minutes about what we had for dinner. Really trivial stuff. And then Josh goes - and this is genuine - "Mel, can I ask a quick question? Is this the show?" - and we all pissed ourselves like "No, no, no... we should get on with the show!"

Are you surprised by how much celebrities are willing to share? Usually on a panel show, you have certain jokes to deliver and you're there to show off your good side.

It's really nice actually because celebrities - not comedians as much - are usually media trained and afraid of things getting taken out of context. Or being labelled in a certain way, because we live in a world, especially at the moment, that's very black and white and judgemental. And headliney. And clickbaity.

So it's nice that people felt like they could share the gross or shit things that we've all done! That was really nice. The whole show just feels really natural. And I think the show feels really special because it does allow our celebrities to be themselves.

Any memorable guests?

I really liked Richard Ayoade... although he did pick apart the format! It was the first episode we filmed so we were really nervous. But he is VERY funny! Desiree Burch had some interesting stories

Oh and Clare Balding is hilarious in it! Her stories aren't out there at all, because she's a respectful and pleasant person, but she comes across really really funny because she's just herself. That's what I think the show does. It celebrates everyone as themselves and gives space for everyone to be funny.

Who would you like to come on if there's another series?

I'll tell you who... Boris Johnson. One Boris Johnson please!

What was it like working with Mel? Had you met her before?

No, but it felt like I did. It feels like she's my sister. But I think everyone feels that way about Mel. She's a dream! She just made me feel really at ease. If you suggest an idea, she really runs with it and just says yes to everything.

Did she give you any advice at all?

She didn't. But I felt like I learnt a lot from her. I was watching her thinking "Ah! She is good!" and watching back the edit was interesting. You learn a lot looking back. She can do streams and streams of dialogue and make it sound natural and you're like "God damn!" It's amazing what she does.

I bumped into Sue Perkins actually, and I'd never met her before, near my house and we were like "Oh, we kind of know of each other. But we don't know each other." - and I had a really nice chat with her about the show.

The bond she has with Mel is one of the strongest bonds so she has nothing to worry about, I'm just a little friend on the side!

This is Dave's first female-led panel show. Why do you think it's taken so long?

The fact we should concentrate on is that Dave are actually doing it. What other channel is doing it? There's no other show with two women in comedy. There's a dancing show or whatever, so I think Dave really take risks.

They were the ones that bought Taskmaster - they went through lots of different formats to get that show right. They invested really heavily in the show. Made it really brilliant and took a risk. And now they're the ones putting two women front and centre of a panel show - and I'm not saying "Ooh they're brave" - because it should have been done aaaaaages ago, but it's good that they're doing it now. No one else is.

I also don't know why there aren't any women-lead chat shows. Women are so emotionally intelligent. I'm sure some men are too, but women are brilliant at fucking talking, and funny, so why the fuck aren't women hosting their own shows?!

It's almost like no one trusts a woman to be in control. What do they think we're going to do? What do they think we're going to do if they give us a bit of authority or a bit of power? Ooh, better anchor them up with a man. They might fall over because of their heels. I don't know what it is!

It's shocking when shows with three men on there already, get three more men on, and one woman who's a chef or something and they say "Women aren't funny." One - give them the platform to learn their fucking job. Give them the arena to let them shine. These men are failed upwards at the start and then given the space for 20 years!

I was on a show recently and... I don't want to go into it... but I said so much in the room, so many jokes and you wouldn't know it after the edit. Some edits are more about collaboration, and what I loved about Taskmaster is that it allows everyone to shine. And this show (Unforgivable) allows everyone to shine.

What's next for you?

Roller skating. Working. And maybe some acting...

Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable starts Tuesday 2nd February at 10pm on Dave


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