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I TALK TO Rosie Jones

"You forget that actually, disability aside, being a woman and having my own primetime Channel 4 Friday night show, is huge in itself."

Comedian Rosie Jones is one of the funniest new talents around so it came as no surprise to me that she's been given her own Channel 4 show.

In Trip Hazard: My Great British Adventure, Rosie takes celebrity friends on an adventure around Britain, gorging on culture, learning local traditions and witnessing scenery that will make you weep.

Whether she's taking in the glorious vistas of the Lake District with Scarlett Moffat, exploring the seaside charms of Whitby with Joe Wilkinson, wrestling in Norwich with Jamali Maddix or earning her stripes as a shepherd in Anglesey with Jenny Eclair - Rosie throws herself headfirst into every situation.

In the heightened reality of the series, Rosie has frequent run-ins with the Channel 4 commissioner, played by Rachel Stubbings, who is too busy dealing with her celebrity contacts to give Rosie's show her full attention!

I recently caught up with Rosie to find out more about the series, including the significance of having her own show and how she managed to get Olivia Colman to narrate the series!

How much fun did you have making the series?

I feel like you know that already! I had the best fun ever. I mean, what's not to like? I was travelling around with great people in a great country doing great things. It really was a dream come true.

How did the series come about?

During lockdown, I stayed with my mum and dad and I hadn't stayed in Yorkshire for that amount of time since I was little. Growing up in a seaside town, I thought it was shit. But going back as an adult, I was like "Oh! It's not that bad! It's actually beautiful."

So when we started chatting about the idea, at the time - and unfortunately nothing's changed - we were like, it's Summer, no one is going abroad. Let's try and make a positive, upbeat travel show which says it's a shame we can't go to Mexico, but can we have as much fun in Norwich? Yeah we can!

And you poke fun, don't you? At the travelogue format.

That's it. Because before I was a comedian, I used to work in telly so I know all about the TV politics of trying to make people happy and having to hit certain beats. So we thought it would be fun to show the audience a glimpse behind the curtain.

One of the ways you do that is with the Channel 4 Commissioner character Saskia. Was that an idea you had early on?

Yeah! Actually, I think it's where we started because you know I like to play on the fact that I'm a lady and gay and disabled, I'm a dream come true for TV commissioners. So it always felt like a great opportunity to take advantage of that and knowingly nod to it.

The series is narrated by none other than Olivia Colman. How did you pull that one off?

Basically, I'm a big deal so the producer said to me "Imagine no one's off limits. Who do you want to be the voiceover?" and I said "Oscar winner Olivia Colman". The producer then said "OK, we won't get her. Who's your second choice?" and I said "Just ask. Please ask. Because even if it's a no, I will print that "No" email and frame it."

A week later he came back and said "She said yes! She said that she's a massive of you!" - I just feel like her voice throughout elevates it. I love her. She's amazing.

She describes you as a "disabled, Northern, Joanna Lumley" and you always make a point of pointing out your differences, without letting them define you. How important is that to you?

Well basically. That is me. And it's so important because I am in two camps. I'm proud of my labels and I'm proud to represent my labels so it's very important for me to mention it and talk about it. So that A, it becomes less of a taboo subject and B, I'm able to represent people who aren't really represented on TV and the media.

So absolutely it's important. But at the same time there's more to me than just my labels. I didn't want to create a travel show all about disability or all about me being a woman or gay.

I feel like we've hit the perfect spot, where it's me, so you see what it's like for a disabled person to go down a zip wire, but then it's not me banging on about it all the time. It's just a presenter who happens to be everything!

You mentioned the zip wire, you do some amazing things in the show, what was your favourite thing to do?

It's so hard to choose because there's a standout moment in every episode. But I'd say my favourite thing ever, was the wrestling! It was the thing I was most nervous about and we were filming that on the last day - I think they did that for insurance! "We won't kill her, until we're allowed to!"

What I didn't expect, was that the wrestlers and the audience were so lovely and so lovely welcoming. And you could say the same thing about the goths in the Whitby episode, in that these are types of people - and actually you see these types of people in every episode. They can be described as on the outskirts of society, they could be described as odd and a bit weird or scary or different.

But actually, when you immerse yourself into their world, they're the most accepting people and they welcomed me with open arms. It was so joyous.

There's also a lot of dressing up in the series. Did you enjoy that part of it?

That is me! That is me all over. I would go in for production meetings and I'd be like "Yeah, yeah, yeah... when can I dress up?" because it brings so much joy and I just immerse myself. I think my favourite outfit was wresting! I could not believe how great I looked in lycra!

You travel this series with Scarlett Moffatt, Joe Wilkinson, Jamali Maddix and Jenny Eclair. Did you know any of them well beforehand?

We wanted different people and we definitely got that! I love how every episode has a different feel to it and I think it's because of my different friendships with all the guests.

I knew Joe and Jamali from the comedy circuit. I'd met Scarlett once on a TV show, but actually even though we'd only met once, we knew that we'd get on so well. And then Jenny is just a hero of mine so that was amazing in itself. I feel like we took on quite a mum daughter role.

Me and Scarlett were like immediate best friends. Me and Joe were like brothers, me being the younger sister going "Come on!" and actually with Jamali I felt like I was the mother and he was the teenage moody son. So every dynamic worked and just made it so individual.

Who would be your dream travel guest if you were to go again?

Well I'd love Olivia Colman to do the voiceover there, so we can go out together. But I'd just to go with more comedians again. Hopefully, series two, if there is one - just the same, different people, different ages. Just me and a friend out on an adventure.

I have to mention that scene in the first episode where yourself and Scarlett settle in for the night, sleeping in a bunkbed, next to horses. Please tell me you didn't actually sleep there?

Unfortunately, we didn't stay there. But people actually do. The horses were so nice and tame, but no. I could not get on board with it. Especially because I got given the bloody big horse. I was like "There's no way I'm sleeping a wink of sleep with a stallion's head on my belly!"

What are you hoping people will feel watching it? Personally, I felt so much joy and escapism watching it.

Exactly that! Exactly that! I mean, we can't deny that the world, the country and people's individual lives is a bit shit. Especially where we've just hit that year mark. It's like "How are we still here?!" So yeah, I hope for 30 minutes, people can just escape into a world where they can feel happy.

Are you a fan of travelogues? What are some of your favourites?

Yeah, I am. It's obvious, but I really like Romesh. He's amazing. He's who I had in my mind throughout because he's one of my favourite comedians and actually I like working with him because we're like yin and yang.

So I had him in mind in reminding me that to just always be myself, because I got the travel show because they wanted me. If they wanted Michael Palin, they'd get Michael Palin. So hopefully it's a new travel show because I'm a new presenter.

Travel shows hosted by women are still sadly a rarity - how aware of that fact were you, when making this show?

It's interesting. Going back to my labels, that when we started "This is amazing! There's never been a disabled presented travel show" and I think we were three weeks in to pre-production and I just said in the meeting "Also... I'm a woman!" and people were like "Shit, yeah!"

You forget that actually, disability aside, being a woman and having my own primetime Channel 4 Friday night show, is huge in itself. I just feel so lucky, because I've been doing comedy for less than 5 years. So to go from nothing to having my own primetime show, I mean... it's a dream come true!

Well it's not a surprise to me at all, because you're so talented and that's why you've been offered all the opportunities you have.

Out of all the things you've done so far, writing, acting, presenting and of course stand-up, what's been your favourite?

That's the beauty of my job. I don't need to choose. I can present a travel show and then do a stand-up gig and then act in a drama. I feel very spoilt and very fortunate to do everything.

What's surprised me most, is writing a children's book because I've always had a dream to write for children. In my head, I thought I would do comedy and acting and then later in life, focus on writing scripts and books.

But last year I wrote my first children's book, and that's out in August! I've just completed the first one and I'm about to start the second. But what's happening now, is that the illustrator is doing all the drawings and when I get an email of one of the drawings of the character, literally from my head, it's mind blowing! That is definitely a dream I had for one day... and one day is somehow here!

What's the book about?

It's called The Amazing Edie Eckhart and unbelievably, it's about a little girl called Edie who has cerebral palsy! Weird?!

I wrote it because growing up, I loved books, but it was really really disheartening and demoralising that never in the hundreds of books I read, never was there a character like me. So, I wanted to make a disabled person the main character of a book to show that our stories are worth telling.

And finally, are you missing live comedy?

Yeah I am! I'm really deep into online gigging and I'm now doing that about four or five times a week. So I'm still gigging, I'm writing new stuff, but yeah, nothing beats live. I'm just starting to book in my first live gigs and it really feels like I'm a new comic again!

Trip Hazard: My Great British Adventure starts Friday 9th April at 8.30pm on Channel 4 with all episodes available at launch on All 4


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