A Pointless Christmas

Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman
Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman

Dressed as Santa, Pointless host Alexander Armstrong admits he was melting under the studio lights filming the quiz show’s Christmas special on the ‘hottest day of the year’ in September.

“I had five layers. My costume literally weighed about two stones,” Armstrong laments. “I had to have an ice pack on my back because it was sweltering,” he says, recalling making the festive one-off, which sees celebrity guests - including Duncan James from Blue, Joe Pasquale and Lesley Joseph, Shakin’ Stevens and Keith Chegwin - dressed in panto gear.

“It’s a good weight-loss programme,” quips Armstrong’s colleague Richard Osman, the show’s creator, who was a little less hot under the collar in his reindeer garb.

Pointless remains one of the BBC’s stalwart teatime favourites, and Osman, who is also creative director for Endemol, the company that makes the show, is determined it would never be sold off to another station, as Bake Off has been.

The presenting pair have known each other for years, having met as students at Cambridge University. For now, they are both looking forward to some time off, as the festive season gets into full swing.

But they won’t be spending Christmas together. Osman, 46, will be in London with his two children from a previous relationship, while Armstrong, also 46, will be at home in Oxfordshire with his wife Hannah Bronwen Snow and their four young children.

“I always have as much family around for Christmas as is available,” says Osman. “It’s literally whoever is around. But it’s got to be an even number so you can play games.

“The only person who loves games more than me is my daughter, who is 18 and returning from China on December 19. We always do quizzes and pencil and paper games. My son, who is 16, has just started to be able to beat her at stuff, and you can see her slightly losing some of her enthusiasm.’’

What about games in the Armstrong household? “We tend to play games that we make up - they are usually pencil and paper games that we play around the table after lunch and throughout the afternoon,” he reveals.

They don’t however, have the Pointless game.

After nearly 1,200 episodes since 2009, it’s hardly surprising neither host wants to play Pointless at home - although they are encouraging people to indulge in their latest quiz book, A Pointless History Of The World.

Osman and his ex also buy each other the strangest gifts they can find, he reveals.

“I love buying presents. I note things down on my iPhone during the year. I like going to junk shops and finding unusual things you can’t buy anywhere else.

“I love ridiculous things. My ex and I have a tradition where we have to buy each other the worst thing we can possibly find. My best ‘worst’ present for her was a big pottery bright yellow teapot in the shape of a JCB, with the crane as the spout. Last year she got me a Japanese talking heated toilet seat, which was pretty good.

:: A Pointless History Of The World by Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman is published by Coronet, priced £14.99.