If you had to, could you name the most-watched entertainment programme from Christmas 2020? Gold stars to everyone who shouted out Blankety Blank.
A whopping 6.3 million viewers tuned in to watch Jimmy Carr, Danny Jones, Emilia Fox, Anita Rani, Sue Perkins and Amir Khan try to help ordinary mortals win a selection of prizes, and fans will be delighted to know it’s back for a new run, complete with that iconic chequebook and pen, the unforgettable theme tune and the inimitable Bradley Walsh, who presented the aforementioned festive special, as the host.
He said: “I stand on the shoulders of giants like Les Dawson and Sir Terry Wogan but I’m hoping to put my own stamp on the fantastically nostalgic show. I struggle to remember the last time I laughed as much as when I was filming Blankety Blank – so when they asked if I’d be up for doing a series, I jumped at the chance. I’m just so pleased I get to be a part of it.”
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Bradley is, of course, no stranger to the role of quiz show host. The internet is awash with clips of him corpsing while filming The Chase, and he also fronted Come on Down! The Game Show Story which, as the title suggests, is an affectionate look back at the telly staple.
But few game show hosts can claim to have followed the same career path.
After injury scuppered his plans to play football for a living in 1982 and a brief stint as a bluecoat at Pontins in Morecambe, Bradley was spotted by ITV and offered the presenter’s job for Midas Touch. He followed that up in 1997 by stepping into the shoes of Nicky Campbell after he left Wheel of Fortune.
However, the roar of the greasepaint proved to be more alluring and after a year, Bradley left the quiz and landed a small role in the Channel 4 series Lock, Stock… and featured in football flick Mike Bassett: England Manager.
Parts in the ill-fated soap Night and Day, and The Bill spin-off M.I.T.: Murder Investigation Team followed, as well as a role in a thundering West End production of Les Miserables.
Then he really hit the big leagues: in May 2004, Bradley made his first appearance as Danny Baldwin in long-running soap Coronation Street, going on to win a British Soap Award for Best Dramatic Performance in 2006, the same year he asked to be written out of the show.
His next high-profile part came in 2009, with recovering alcoholic DS Ronnie Brooks in 2009 crime drama Law & Order: UK, before he became the darling of the sci-fi set by joining the 11th series of Doctor Who as Graham O’Brien, one of Jodie Whittaker’s ‘fam’.
As someone who has become adept at stepping into – and filling very nicely, thank you – the shoes of others, it will come as no surprise to learn Bradley has been cast as Pop Larkin in the forthcoming adaptation of The Darling Buds of May.
If his work on Wheel of Fortune and Blankety Blank is anything to go by, that much-loved gentle comedy drama is in safe hands.
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