Interview with Mo Gilligan – The Lateish Show: Series 2 Friday 23rd July, 10PM

Since The Lateish Show's debut in July 2019, you've won BAFTA and RTS Awards, joined the judging panel on The Masked Singer and Dancer, written a book, presented a series from home, fronted a documentary, announced your There's Mo To Life tour, filmed Celebrity Gogglebox with Babatundé Aléshé and we've been through a pandemic. So not busy at all then?

A lot has happened in my life since we were last doing this show really! It was quite weird because just after we finished recording the last episode of Lateish series one, we announced the Netflix Momentum special and the new tour, then pandemic hit. It's so good to finally be back doing my own show!  I love getting involved in every part of it, being back in the studio with the team – and we're back bigger than ever now for Series 2!

It's been two years since the first series of The Lateish Show aired. How are the nerves? Or are you raring to go?

I am raring to go man! I've been waiting, like we all have, but the fact I'm now able to have The Lateish Show back with an audience… I'm counting down the days! I can't wait to get back into the studio and show everyone what's we've been working on.  

Do you see The Lateish Show as being an antidote to the news?

Not really to the news – I see Lateish as a bit of escapism. I've always wanted to make a show where, regardless of what's going on in the world, you get to switch off for a bit and watch something which is a bit silly, a bit fun, puts you in a good mood and sets you up for the weekend.

What can we expect from the new series?

We're coming back BIG! We've got some big new gameshow items which I think people are going to love. Everyone's favourite rave game Nursery Grimes is back with added surprises. We've got some insanely good guest appearances as well. With this show, I always love to have guests that come from so many different worlds. I mean last series we had Steve Coogan on with Jessie J and Tyson Fury, David Schwimmer on with Jada Pinkett Smith! And of course we'll have amazing prizes – that's the thing I really love, being able to give some really brilliant prizes away to the Great British Public.

You had some amazing guests in the first series – David Schwimmer, Riz Ahmed, Kelis, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tyson Fury. How do you top that? Who's on the wish list?

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson would be high up on the wish list, he was a childhood hero. I'd love to see Adele do Nursery Grimes – she'd be dope! If those guys are free man, I'm all here for it!

You've had some time on your hands to make the games even more bonkers. How mad have you gone this time round?

We always try to keep the games as simple and as silly as possible, because what we really want is everyone to play along at home. It's like Nursery Grimes – that's something you can really play at home with the whole family! I can't wait for everyone to see the new games we're launching this series as well.

Do we get to find out what some of your characters have been up to during the pandemic?

Oh yeah, most definitely. Some of my most prominent comedy characters will be making a big return and it's really great to have them back in ways viewers have never seen before.

It's always been a priority to you to make the series interactive, and ensure the audience are just as important as the guests. Will we see more of that in this series? I believe you're going out on the streets too.

Yes, for a big Series 2 first, we are taking ourselves outside the studio and heading all over the country. The viewing audience will have a chance to win some great prizes, but we'll also be rocking up on people's doorsteps unannounced, giving them some chances to win too. People have been inside their houses for the last 18 months, so it just makes sense to go to them now!

Are you looking forward to being back on stage this year?

Yeah man! I love performing on stage, doing my stand up, so I can't wait to be back on tour with There's Mo to Life later this year. If there's ever a time to do comedy, where people really want to come out, this is it. The cool thing with a comedy tour is just being able to bring joy to people's lives for about an hour and 20 mins. A lot of us comics feel the same – it's bought a lot of us together and we're all saying, 'have you been back on stage yet?.  I was talking to Joel Dommett recently and he was saying the same thing!

How did it feel hearing your name read out as the BAFTA Award winner?

Ah man, it was incredible. It was one of those moments that I'll always remember. At first I just said to people I'm just really happy to be nominated and as we got closer, I thought oh maybe I can win this…? When my name got read out, it was just amazing.  As it was for Entertainment Performance, I felt like it was for everyone who helped out with the show, came to the show, participated in the show, told a friend about it – it was their BAFTA a little bit. As much as I won it, a lot of other people won it with me and for me – it just felt really special, because some people have been part of this journey from the start of my comedy journey. It was a very special moment.

Where do you keep your trophy?

Actually ironically, I keep it right next to the TV! It feels quite fitting that sometimes when I'm watching TV I just sneak it a few glances…

You and fellow stand-up Babatundé Aleshe have become firm favourites on Celebrity Gogglebox. What have been the best and worst shows you've had to watch?

We had to watch Dr Pimple Popper and oh my god, it's so horrible. Why would you even make the show?! It's absolutely disgusting and now every time I get a spot, I think I better pop it now just in case it turns into a growth! They also put horror films on as they know me and Babatundé will always scream at them and the viewers love that! I get so engrossed in horrors too even though I hate them. It's been so lovely doing it with Babatundé, he's been a good friend of mine for a number of years and will be supporting me on tour later this year, so it was a no brainer to do Gogglebox with him. We have a real laugh.

We also saw you front your own documentary, Black British and Funny, last year on Channel 4. What was it like being able to assemble so many legends of Black British comedy in one place?

It was an honour and something I've wanted to do since first becoming a comic. Trying to do a documentary with these icons that I grew up watching was amazing, and the public responded so beautifully. My goal in making it was that if anyone in future needs to research or understand what Black British comedy was about, this is your starting point. I wanted people to be educated on where it started, and I'm so pleased it was so well received. A lot of the big comedy names featured in the Doc will also be appearing at my O2 Arena show this December!

You were on The Masked Singer & Dancer with fellow chat show host Jonathan Ross. Did you ask him for any tips? Or did he ask you for any?

Jonathan is one of my favourite people in entertainment. He has the best stories. I've never asked him for tips, but he's been in the business since before I was born, and his stories are like sitting down with your dad and asking things like 'so what was it like when you got to meet Prince?' He loves a name drop. He told me he'd did a show a few years ago in Monaco and I was like 'Nice! Who was performing?' and he just replies with 'Well I was performing, and Stevie Wonder.' I'd love to get him on the Lateish show, he's always a really good laugh.

If you could go back five years and speak to the Mo Gilligan who was working in retail and doing homemade sketches on Instagram, what would you tell him?

It's hard because I wouldn't want to tell him anything. The Mo Gilligan that was working in retail was grinding to get to this point, so I wouldn't want to tell him anything that would throw him off course. Maybe just trust the process. Working in retail has helped me so much because the level of hard work you put into those 12 hour shifts is the same when you're on stage and you want to entertain people and make sure everyone's happy.

Do you think that Mo Gilligan would believe where you are today?

There's a bit of me that says yes and a bit that says no. I think he could have seen it happen but not this quickly. A lot has happened in the last four or five years where I look back and I'm like oh my god, I've done that, and that, and that... Sometimes I do pinch myself when looking through my camera roll and thinking oh wow, I remember doing that, that was awesome. I've been lucky enough to travel the world and go to places I never thought I'd get to. There's still so much I want to try and accomplish though!