OTB Meets Duncan James


For those of you that haven’t seen Scream If You Know The Answer, there is only one word that can describe it – original. How many other shows can you think of that involve contestants teaming up with celebrities to answer questions whilst riding theme park rides? Exactly. Crazy as the show might sound, it’s really rather entertaining and anyway, who wouldn’t want to watch Phil Tufnell thrown about as he tries to remember the winner of Celebrity Big Brother 2009? The man in the middle of all this madness is Duncan James whom you’ll most likely recognise as part of recently-reformed pop quartet Blue. OTB spoke to the man himself to talk TV, Music and why Vanilla Ice is obsessed with health and safety…

Hi Duncan, how’s it going?
Good, thanks mate, and you?

We’re very well, thanks. So, first things first, how did you feel when someone came to you and said ‘we’ve got this idea for a show which involves celebrities and theme park rides?’
Well basically my agent came to me and said: ‘Right, I know what you’re going to say so just watch it. Put it on the video and I want you to sit down and watch it because trust me, this is going to do well and you need to be part of it.’ And when my agent says to me something like that I think ‘Okay, I’ll hear this out’ because nine out of ten times she’s like ‘You’re not doing that, you’re not doing that and you’re not doing that.’ So she sat me down to watch it and I thought okay, that’s a different concept. I met the production company – who I thought were brilliant – and we made the first series and I loved every single minute of it so when they asked me to come back for a second series I was like ‘Hell yeah!’ – 2 weeks work in a theme park, it’s a great job!

So what’s your favourite round on the show?
Well this year we changed the games slightly, I guess that my favourite is still probably Cash Dash because I want them [the contestants] to win as many matches as possible and win the money. I love watching the people go round that one because it’s like zero to one hundred miles per hour in about four seconds or something, so that one’s quite fun to watch. Jason Gardiner was hilarious in that one. It [the show] is just a really great concept – Stop The Drop – again, where they’re dropped from the top of the tower, that was really funny. Yeah it was all really cool.

How hard do you find it to read the questions and keep concentration when you’re on the rollercoaster?
Yeah, it is pretty tough. Some of the rides you go on are quite horrendous and they kind of sling you and throw you all sorts of directions and you’re like ‘uuuugh’ but you’ve got to try and read the questions out as well! It was quite hard. But yeah, it’s just a really enjoyable game show and everybody was really up for, up for a laugh and got into the competitive spirit. And then we had people like Louie Spence who was just absolutely priceless, it was hilarious, really funny to watch and Janice Dickenson who is brilliant, she’s just TV gold that one, we had John Barrowman, we had a great line up of people this year.

Who is the favourite person that you’ve had on there?
I loved having Lee [Ryan] and Simon [Webb] from Blue on it, it was like having my brother with me for the day and we all had a real giggle, so it was great having them on the show. But I had a great couple of weeks and everybody was fantastic. I think the show has really stepped up from last year and everyone’s going to really enjoy it.

Were you worried having Lee and Simon on there that they’d give you a bit of grief?
Haha no, no – it was more me trying to keep them in line! Especially that Lee Ryan! It was really good having them on – one of my favourite episodes – it’s hilarious to see the banter they have between them and the competitive spirit. Trying to stop Lee cheating all the time was quite hard too!

Have you had anyone react badly to being on the rides? Anyone been sick?
Well Vanilla Ice was the only one that refused to go on a ride when it started raining, because he said that health and safety in American – where he lives – they shut all the rides down whenever it starts raining. I said to him ‘Well to be honest, mate, in this country it rains all the time so it would mean a theme park would never be open! So they’re tested and completely safe’ but he still refused to get on it!

Obviously you have Eurovision coming up soon with Blue – how are you feeling about that?
Yeah, you know what? I’m really excited actually. For us this is a great big platform having been away for five or six years and we’re gonna be performing in Dusseldorf on May 14th in front of an audience of 125,000,000 people, just on that one night and it’ll let everyone know that we’re back as a band. We’ve got an album coming out this year, we’re representing our country – and I think we’re the only country that still thinks it’s a naff competition – while we’ve been going around Europe pretty much every weekend promoting it and it’s such a big deal for everybody else. I think that’s because we haven’t done so well really in the last 10 years – apart from with Andrew Lloyd Webber – so I think it’s a really good opportunity for us to come back as a band.

Are you feeling confident that maybe you can be the guys that turn around Britain’s fortunes in the competition, then?
What we want to do is get in the top five. If we can get in the top five I think we’ll have done our country proud. I mean we [Britain] came last last year, so if we get in the top five, do the country proud and put on a great performance at the same time, we’ll be really happy.

Apart from the new album, do you have anything else in the pipeline?
Lots of stuff that’s gonna be happening with Blue really, including a new single coming out after Eurovision so it’s been a very busy year so far, but I’m really excited to get the ball rolling again.

So your focus is more on the music for the foreseeable future then? Not so much on the TV front?
Obviously I’ve still got bits and bobs I do for TV and they want to do a third series for Scream If You Know The Answer as well so hopefully I can manage to tie everything into my diary and make it all work. But Blue is the priority for me this year and that’s where my focus is at the moment.

Well thanks for your time, and best of luck with everything.
Thanks ever so much bud.