Game show rookie Grado has revealed it’s a dream come true to host BBC Scotland’s new quiz show Test Drive and follow in the footstep of the quizmaster legends he idolised as a kid.
The Two Doors Down star, 30, real name Graeme Stevely, loved nothing more than watching big stars like Bruce Forsyth and Les Dennis on shows like Family Fortunes and Play Your Cards Right when he was growing up. So he jumped at the chance when he was offered his own game show, which starts next Monday (February 25) on the new BBC Scotland Channel.
He said: “This is a totally new challenge for me and I loved every minute of filming. It’s such good fun and it’s brilliant having banter with the contestants.”
(Picture: BBC Scotland)
Test Drive will broadcast at 7pm, Monday-Thursday on the first week of the new channel’s schedule and Tuesday-Thursday on week two. It sees three teams hit the road in colour-coded red, blue and yellow cars, answering questions via a specially-adapted sat-nav that determines their route to a well-known tourist attraction. Answer correctly and they follow the shortest route. If they’re wrong, there are diversions, wrong turns…and miles added to their trip. The winners with the lowest mileage at the end bags a cash prize.
Contestants work in pairs – either brothers and sisters, mum and sons, dads and daughters, best friends or couples. The questions are designed to spark debate and provoke some pretty strong opinions, all revealing more about their relationships as they rack up the miles.
Presenter Grado keeps in touch throughout via the ‘Gradio’, asking bonus general knowledge pit-stop questions, announcing the scores and revealing the winner. But he admits he was a little envious to miss out on the behind-the-wheel fun the contestants were having.
(Picture: BBC Scotland)
So as a one-off special, BBC Scotland invited Grado to try being a contestant for a day for a special online video and gave him the chance to pull in one of his nearest and dearest to join in. Grado had no hesitation in asking best mate, River City star Stephen Purdon.
The pair spend four months of the year sharing a dressing room while in panto together, so there are few friends who know each other better.
Grado said: “It was great fun having the tables turned to find out what it’s like for the Test Drive contestants. I think Stephen was a little nervous though, wondering exactly what secrets I’d reveal about him.”
(Picture: BBC Scotland)
Q:You’ve been a wrestler, you’re doing comedy acting in Two Doors Down, and you’ve played it for laughs in panto. This is a new adventure then?
A: I was a game show addict when I was a kid so it really was a dream come true to be asked to host Test Drive, and brilliant to be given an original format to work on. My memory from when I was young and staying at my gran’s every weekend was watching Les Dennis on Family Fortunes, Bruce Forsyth on Play Your Cards Right or Cilla Black on Moment of Truth – that was my absolute favourite. I loved them all, they were a huge part of family life.
Q: What’s the appeal of game shows do you think?
A: I’ve always loved that kind of entertainment show – it’s just fun and light-hearted and the whole family can watch. The questions on Test Drive are great fun too. It’s like a sort of Gogglebox inside a motor. There are people on this who you could watch all day – they’re comedy gold.
As well as general knowledge questions, they get asked questions that spark a bit of debate and we get to learn more about their character and their relationship to each other, whether they’re mother and son, brother and sister, husband and wife or just friends. Because they’re being filmed from the minute they get in the car, there’s loads of bits of magic that keep popping up that’s got nothing to do with the question.
Q: What is it about being in the car that makes people open up?
A: I’ve had some tasty conversations in the car in my time. Being part of the wrestling circuit I’ve spent a lot of time going up and down the country in motors so when you’re in a motor, for some reason you can end up revealing stuff that you never planned to. It’s like being on the nightshift. You wake up and think ‘what nonsense was I talking last night?’. There’s something about being in the car that means you can get a lot off your chest. Your eyes are on the road, so it might be something about not making eye contact. It’s like a counselling session.
Q: What’s up next for you?
A: I love trying something new. When I get the opportunity to try something different, I’ll always take it. I never thought when I started throwing guys about a wrestling ring that it would all lead to this. I used to love watching Matthew Kelly on Stars in their Eyes and Cilla Black on Blind Date so maybe a talent show and a dating show should be next on my radar.