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‘Gogglebox’ Chris: ‘People think Stephen and I are a couple’

By Attitude Magazine

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On paper, Gogglebox doesn’t sound like must-see TV – “hey, let’s watch other people watching telly!” – but as anyone who’s ever caught an episode of Channel 4’s sleeper hit will know, it’s actually insightful, very funny and totally addictive.

With the new series about to begin, I gave one half of the show’s gay duo, Brighton hairdresser Chris Steed (pictured right), a call to find out more about how it all works.

What made you apply to be on Gogglebox in the first place?
One day someone came to the salon where I work, looking around for someone to take part in a TV programme. At that point none of us had any idea what it was going to be about, but I was just fortunate that I was there and my friend said that I should be on TV. Somebody came over, spoke to me and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’d be really keen to take part’. I always thought it’d be good to have a sort of civilian version of Room 101, something with [regular] people’s opinions. It was great to have the opportunity to take part in it.

Why do you think the show is so popular?
The whole premise that you’re watching people watching TV sounds a bit naff, doesn’t it? But the thing is, look how successful The Royle Family was, and that was based around them sitting around in someone’s living room. And at the end of the day, British people really are funny and people who watch our show can always relate to someone that’s in it. Whether it’s June and Leon if you’re an older couple, or us gay guys.

You and Stephen aren’t actually a couple, but you do seem very coupley…
We were friends years ago, and then we evolved into sort of more like a relationship, so we were actually seeing each other when I got the opportunity of going on Gogglebox. So that’s how Stephen and I got on it. We were actually a couple for the first series! But we decided that we’re better as friends. So second series, we went into it as friends, but I think a lot of followers that watched the first series continued to think that we were a couple. I think that people just assume that, because we’re two gay guys and we’re really close. And him always taking the piss out of me, well, a lot of people do that in relationships, don’t they? But I actually have a boyfriend and so does Stephen.

How much time do you have to spend together filming the show?
This week we’ll do three nights. But we do hang out anyway – we watch TV, we go out and do other things as well. We do tend to do that. But generally it’s around three nights a week. It really does depend what they need us for.

What do you think of the other families on the show? Have you met them?
I met a couple of the Allen sisters from the first series when I was out in Brighton and they happened to be there for the weekend. I also happened to bump into the mum and dad from the Michael family in Brighton about three weeks ago. It was a really unusual situation because I’d just parked up my car at Morrison’s and I saw this woman pulling a trolley up the steps. I was like, ‘Are you alright there love? Do you want a hand with that?’ and it turns out it was her! So it was a really sort of surreal way to meet her and her husband Andy. We ended up having a right good little chit-chat and everything. It was really nice to meet them.

Is there any other family you’d like to meet?
Stephen and I would love to meet Steph and Dom. I would love to see Sandy and Sandra too.

You should all organise a weekend out in London.
Oh, that’d be fantastic wouldn’t it? Or we could all go and stay at Steph and Dom’s B&B, but mind you, we probably wouldn’t survive. It’d probably be a bring a bottle party.

An idea I had is that you should all be filmed watching an episode of Gogglebox as the final episode of the series. Has that been suggested before?
It has been suggested as a possibility, us actually watching Gogglebox. But I just don’t think it would work because it’s like TV eating itself, isn’t it? And also, with our show, we basically are criticising other TV programmes, so it’d be rude for us to be criticising other people that are on Gogglebox. It’s not meant to be a negative programme. It’s about observations. So it just wouldn’t work, I don’t think.

Is there anything that sticks out as something you didn’t particularly enjoy watching?
There was a programme on cathedrals that Stephen’s just reminded me about that was quite awful, but that didn’t get aired. I would say that the worst programme for me was the Robbie Williams concert or whatever it was, Swinging Both Ways or something. That for me was the most awful programme. The funniest programme we had to watch was probably the walrus porn one. Because of the title we were like, ‘Oh God, it’s gonna be a programme on a walrus. It’s gonna be crap,’ but it actually turned out to be fantastic because everyone was really shocked at what they were watching.

What shows do you recommend we should be watching right now?
“I quite like First Dates on Channel 4. I was single for such a long time so I was going on quite a lot of dates, and I can definitely relate to these people and these really awful dates. One thing that I’ve got quite into lately is Millionaire Matchmaker. It’s about this really bitchy woman that likes to match-make millionaires. It’s awful and tragic but quite cool.”

Gogglebox returns tonight (March 7) at 9pm on Channel 4.

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