The Chase USA: EXCLUSIVE Interview with Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett

He’s a quizzing titan; a 6ft 6 monster of wit and knowledge who spends much of his time with a glowing blonde bombshell who occasionally presents him publicly with birthday cake.

No, this is not an autobiography.

I am, of course, referring to growing US quiz master and television star, Mark Labbett, more commonly referred to (affectionately by most; in sheer terror by others) as ‘The Beast.’

Mark is already well known over here as one of the original of the worldwide quizzing legends known as The Chasers, made famous in the hit teatime quiz show presented by Bradley Walsh, in which four contestants of mixed abilities and psychotic tendencies answer general knowledge questions to hold on to a bunch of cash that they can only win if the Chaser is not better than them. In which case, this usually means when the Chaser has gotten out of the wrong side of bed that morning.

Now, The Chase is a hit in the USA, already in its third series in a prime time slot that attracts millions of viewers. Much like Mark himself, it is a growing beast, promoted with humorous and adventurous commercials and even a gigantic billboard in Times Square. The show has come a long way, and  Mark is the absolute centre of it.

Unlike its British Counterpart, The Chase USA relies solely on one Chaser and his reputation as a ruthless mastermind of quizzing complete with his intimidating frame to create a more ‘man versus monster’ format. Billed often as ‘Beauty and the Beast’, Mark is teamed up with amiable host Brooke Burns, whom he describes as an “utter pro.”

I recently caught up with the man behind the success as he continues his domination of both the quizzing and entertainment world in which he discussed just what sets The Chase USA and The Chase UK apart.   Continue reading

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Holby City: Today, Professor Hope, you are a patient

elliot holby(Series 16, ep.41) One thing I really loved about this episode was the way Elliot Hope was properly placed in context, with friends past and present and even a visit from his miserable son. There were numerous references to Charlie Off Of Casualty. Elliot had get well soon messages from Joseph (Joseph! Oh, please come and visit Elliot next week. Cumbria isn’t that far) and Connie (who will be visiting next week – hurrah! She’s wasted on Casualty). A box arrived from none other than Henrik Hanssen, and it contained baklava. Remember he brought baklava for Tara Lo when she was facing brain surgery, “to ensure a swift recovery.” That didn’t end well, but he did say at the time that he was “perfecting the recipe,” and the message with this batch was that he has “perfected” it – so its healing powers must be awesome. And the wonderful Mr T wanted to get Elliot a kitten. I do like his thinking.

jac elliot holbyElliot had solid support from Mo, Jonny, Sacha and especially Jac, who was at her absolute cuddliest. She was also distracted by a former Herzig patient who’d decided that Elliot had been negligent. Obviously he hadn’t, and Jac sorted it all out, but by doing so she’s caught the eye of someone called Patsy Brassvine (seriously), who has influential power re the future of the Herzig and thinks Jac would be a much better figurehead than its whiskery, eclair-scoffing inventor. Not for the first time in his career, people are plotting to dump Elliot.   Continue reading

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Holby City: Stage fright

elliott jonny holby(Series 16, ep.40) It was the day of the grand unveiling of the Herzig 5. It hardly seems any time at all since we were gasping and marvelling at the Herzig 1, does it?

The problem was that Elliott, as we know, hasn’t been well. He’s been dropping things, falling over and getting tetchy. He’s had an MRI. He’s looked at the results in a troubled manner. It’s something scary and big, and it’s not what you want when there’s a ground-breaking, life-saving piece of kit to showcase and Selfie is relying on you to sell it to the world.

It all culminated in Elliott going wobbly in the middle of doing the operation, just at the point where the machines were going beep. It was all going to go horribly wrong! Elliott’s life’s work would be in ruins! If only there was someone who could take over…    Continue reading

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Holby City: Fun with Mo and an open chest cavity

mo jonny holby(Series 16, ep.39) Jonny Mac was making plans for him and Emma to move to Scotland this week. I’m not sure how that ties in with his promise to Emma to “get Mummy back,” but it’s irrelevant anyway as it doesn’t look like he’s going (sigh) – not now he’s remembered how much fun he can have with Mo and an open chest cavity.

The Darwin story involved a pregnant 49 year old, which was excellent news because it provided an excuse for Mr T to be summoned. Surely it can only be a matter of time before we see his face in the opening titles? Give him his own ward, get Mubbs back and I think we’d have a dream team right there. But on the topic of “dream team” – did you notice Mr T pop his arm around Mo as they walked out of shot in his first scene? Bless!   Continue reading

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Common: Uncommonly good

Some things in the entertainment industry are just a given. Ant and Dec will win every possible gong for TV presenting at awards ceremonies, even if they haven’t presented anything that year. A popular much loved EastEnders character will make a point of looking forward to their future before being butchered on Christmas Day. And a drama penned by Jimmy McGovern will always be almost flawless in quality.

Despite the apparent furore over the BBC’s alleged bias towards McGovern’s views on the legal system, Common did not disappoint. Like predecessors including The Street and Accused, here was an often gritty, rarely sentimental and bleakly honest look at an issue through the lives of some intricate and mostly relatable characters.Common-cropped

The drama centred around the debate over Joint Enterprise Murder; the law which indicates that associates who were present in any way at a murder scene can be equally implicated in a killing, without the need to pinpoint the person who dealt the killer blow. McGovern certainly wasn’t sitting on the fence with this one. The drama exposed the foibles of such a law with harrowing consequences for all parties involved.   Continue reading

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Holby City: Posh baby or Smug husband?

elliot holby(Series 16, ep.38)   Someone at Holby HQ had been raiding the Camoxidan cupboard for last night’s episode (possibly it was left unguarded while Dr Amy Smug was busy barfing in her mouth somewhere else). It was one of those episodes with odd camera angles and general randomness, and a particularly hallucinatory scene where Elliot Hope wandered off into the basement in search of the source of a ghostly moaning sound. Was it in his own not very well head? Was it the ghost of Linden Cullen, doomed forever to walk the corridors in search of Faye? Was it a corpse who wasn’t actually dead (it’s happened before)? Or was it a live patient who believed he was a corpse? It was Leonard Bloom, a live patient who believed he was a corpse. “I am already dead,” he announced to Elliot, adding disturbingly, “You are as dead as I am.” As if Mr Bloom wasn’t being metaphorical enough, he was also a watchmaker and he had a special watch that stopped the moment he “died” – and started again the moment Mo fixed him, because he wasn’t really dead, he was just spooky and unwell.   Continue reading

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Casualty: Fletch’s heroic exit

fletch casualty(Series 28, ep.43In this episode, Tess faced my biggest train-related fear – having to sit opposite an annoying kid who whinges on about his life and makes you play table football with Skittles.

As if that wasn’t dreadful enough, the train also derailed spectacularly and Tess was left in a terrible state waiting for a knight in shining paramedic garb to come and rescue her. Cometh the hour cometh not just the expected Jeff, but also the unexpected Fletch, who told Tess he loved her before un-impaling her from whatever was impaling her and carrying her out of an exploding train carriage to safety. Hero!

tess casualtySo Tess is safe, Fletch is safe, their secret love is no secret any more, so it’s hurrah all round. Except not – because Tess, who is practically built from Moral Fibre, can’t be happy in a relationship that started off with lies and cheating and whatever. Indeed, the reason she was on the train in the first place was that she was on her way to a job interview in Birmingham, because she can’t cope with seeing Fletch and his lovely quiff day in, day out.   Continue reading

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