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I TALK TO Matt Richardson

As 10 celebrities prepare to spend up to five nights in Celebrity Haunted Mansion on W, comedian Matt Richardson returns to host the live show alongside Christine Lampard and I caught up with Matt to find out more about Celebrity Haunted Mansion as well as his teatime companion show High Spirits.

Matt first appeared on our screens in 2013 co-hosting The Xtra Factor with Caroline Flack and in 2016 he hosted Celebrity Haunted Hotel Live with Christine Lampard which is returning this week with new celebrities, a new format and a new location.

First of all, congratulations. Isn't this your first second series on TV?

It is and I cannot tell you how happy I am. What I've done is, I've lucked out with a co-host (Christine Lampard) that seems to be on everything forever so I'm hoping this is the long haul now.

How is Celebrity Haunted Mansion different to Celebrity Haunted Hotel?

It's different because last time we had celebrities drop in and out for a day or two whereas this time there's much more of a competition element to it. There are two teams, with five celebrities each, and each night someone is eliminated until there are two left.

There are two team captains, Jack Osbourne and James Hawes, and this time the show is just on a much bigger scale. As well as us doing ghost hunts and séance's, there are more entertainment based trials and tasks. Basically, you're going to see more celebrities, more terrified.

Have you visited the mansion yet?

I have indeed. I've been once and it's horrible. The reason it's haunted is because a lot of people have died there and the guy that built it never actually completed it. Now there's a custodian living there in a flat conversion with his wife and child, it's so creepy.

The only way to describe it is it looks exactly like a Scooby Doo set. You drive up through the woods and it opens up to reveal this great big manor house and it looks like a cliché horror film set. It's so good!

The only celebs confirmed so far are Katie Price and Simon Gregson. How do you think they'll get on?

I think they're both going to do really well. I'm really excited about Simon Gregson because he has never done a reality show before.

He doesn't do interviews and he just keeps to doing Corrie and doesn't really want to do anything else. He's massively into the paranormal so I'm excited to see him throw himself into it.

Obviously Katie Price is as well, but she takes no nonsense does she? So I don't think Katie Price is ever going to be scared. I don't think life could scare her.

Have your paths ever crossed before?

Yes, we did Fearne & Gok: Off The Rails together a couple of years ago for ITVBe, if you remember that show, and she was really nice. She said to me before the show, you can take the piss out of me as much as you like, you can say whatever you want, nothing is off limits.

I was like "You're amazing. Thanks. I'm not going to take the piss out of you." but it's good that she knows her place and the part she plays and that's really lovely.

Who would your dream celebrity be to get onto Celebrity Haunted?

People ask me this and I always say that I don't have a particular celebrity but I have a type of person I'd like to have on the show. People who are total non-believers are not good for us and people that believe in it so much that they don't want to mess with it are not good for us.

We need people in the middle who believe in it and are interested in exploring it. Last series we had Sarah-Jane Crawford who didn't do anything because she believed in it so much that she didn't want to mess with it, which is fair enough. But we need people who will poke the bear if you will.

When it comes to the paranormal, are you a sceptic or a believer?

I would say that I'm a sceptic but the way I describe it is, I'd say I'm a sceptic but then ultimately I don't like it, so I must believe in it deep down.

I don't want to mess with it, I don't want to do things about it, so therefore there must be a belief there. On some level there must be something within me that thinks it's real.

Christine (Lampard) made a really good point which is that millions of people have all got a ghost story - they've seen something, or heard something, or had an experience. So by saying that you don't believe, you're calling millions of people liars!

Speaking of ghost stories, do you have any of your own?

Yes I do. I went on a ghost tour in Edinburgh about 3 years ago. We were in this kind of catacomb which was really dimly lit and as we sat there you could barely see anything, just the outlines of people on the tour with us.

So the guy is chatting away to the group and as he continues talking this figure, in a cloak, which I could see out of the corner of my eye walks up to the back of the group and stands about four or five feet away from us.

I remember thinking, "Oh! He's the bloke that's been paid to give us all a scare!" but anyway, on we go and we turned around and there was no one there. But I saw him.

Were you the only person to see the figure?

Yes, everyone else was paying attention to the guy talking but I was right on the edge of the group so it was only in my peripheral vision that I caught him. I was quite cocky because I'd been fine on the whole tour but in this one room, I was petrified. Actually petrified. I felt really odd and I didn't like it.

No one else saw but it was so weird. I didn't even tell my girlfriend about it until the next day because I was so scared.

Do you think you could go into the mansion yourself and do what these celebrities are about to do?

You know what, yes. Christine and I did a task at the end of the last series and I've still got her nail marks in my arm where she was holding on so tight! This year I'm going to try and get Christine to do more of them because I don't think you should present a show if you're not willing to do it.

On Xtra Factor, I auditioned in front of the judges, but you never see Ant & Dec do a trial on I'm A Celebrity and that's the unique thing about our show, we're going to get involved a bit more and get stuck in.

We're going to be the Ant & Dec AND the Joe Swash, if you know what I mean? That's basically what he does on ITV2. He's the trial monkey.

That said, I wouldn't stay overnight by myself and I've had it contractually put in that I can't stay in the mansion overnight by myself.

What's your favourite thing about Celebrity Haunted?

Definitely working with Christine. People say we have a natural chemistry which is really nice to hear.

I just really like her. I think she's a really nice woman. And also, I thought she would be really straight-laced, like a lot of people would, but she's not. She's really naughty, up for a laugh and loves rude jokes so we get on like a house on fire!

How does Christine compare to your previous co-hosts?

I've been very lucky that I've had great co-hosts. I've never had to do a show with someone that I didn't like. Caroline Flack is still a really good mate of mine. It's weird really, ex co-hosts are a bit like ex-girlfriends. There are some you don't talk to and there are some you stay friends with forever but I've always been lucky that I've stayed friends with mine.

There have been a couple of risks throughout the years where I've been close to having to work with someone who I think is a bit of a bellend, but they've never come off so I've been very lucky.

As well as the main show, you're hosting High Spirits. What can you tell us about that show?

I think the late night show is going to be quite serious whereas mine, 7pm every night, is much more light-hearted. It's a standard spin-off really. A bit funnier, interviewing the celebrities about the night before and trying to get some exclusives.

Basically, I want to embarrass the celebrities a little bit by playing them back videos of them terrified and screaming so that we can all laugh together about it.

It was a bit of a shock success the spin-off last year. When we got there it was as if everyone had forgotten that there was a spin-off. The only people working on it were me, a Producer and an Assistant Producer, but then it starting rating really well.

And you knew it was doing well because every morning at our script meeting there'd be one more exec or one more person from the channel join the meeting. Which was really nice, because I've not had that before.

Normally I do the kind of shows where as the series goes on, less and less people come to the meetings. Viral Tap for example, by the end of that series no one wanted to be involved. Everyone was washing their hands of it.

What are you most looking forward to about Celebrity Haunted Mansion?

I'm just looking forward to doing a week of live telly where anything can happen. I love doing live telly, it's the best thing in the world. It's such a thrill.

Also, camping out for a week in a hotel with a crew who all know each other from last time. It's like a big holiday where we go ghost hunting instead of going to the beach.

What's next for you?

I've just finished my live tour off the back of last year's Edinburgh and I was thinking of going back this year like many comics do, year after year, but because I do so many other random bits and pieces throughout the year, I've decided to do it every other year so I'm going to do another tour in 2019.

And I've just signed another contract with Virgin Radio so I'm there for at least another year doing my show every weekday between 4pm and 7pm. I think we're the fastest growing national radio station in the country now which is really nice. It's been two years and I feel like it's starting to snowball and grow much bigger than it was.

For someone like me, having a regular gig is absolutely beautiful!

Celebrity Haunted Mansion starts Wednesday 21st February at 9pm on W and High Spirits starts Wednesday 21st February at 7pm, both on W, nightly until Sunday 25th February


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