A BBC show relying only on my internet connection – it was so mad! | Romesh Ranganathan on the return of the Ranganation © BBC

A BBC show relying only on my internet connection – it was so mad!

Romesh Ranganathan on the return of the Ranganation

Romesh Ranganathan’s topical comedy show, The Ranganation returns to BBC Two on Sunday. The comedian is back in the studio, having recorded the last series in his garage, but his titular focus group of 20 Britons will remain in their own homes. Here he speaks about the new run…

What set-up can we expect for the third series? 

Well the truth is, series two went down so well and at that time we didn't expect the situation we're in now with regards to still being in lockdown. So regardless of the pandemic we were talking about keeping elements of that second series. 

I think the nature of being a bit more intimate changed the dynamic in the show and I think that people liked that. Essentially, it's going to be very much like series two, except for that we're not relying on my internet for the show to work.

It’s going to be me in a studio, the Ranganation and the guests will be at home so it's the same as in my garage, except without the pressure of everything coming from my home. A BBC show relying only on my internet connection – it was so mad!

Is there anything you’ll miss about filming from the garage? 

Obviously the commute was amazing. 

During the first series I was in studio all day and very much in work mode the whole time I was doing the record. Whereas when I was doing the show at home, we would do rehearsal on the day and then I could walk inside and have a sandwich with the kids. It was such a surreal thing to take a break from work and be straight into my home setting immediately. So I will miss that a bit I think. You can't get too nervous about the record when your family are just next door.

But at the same time it’s difficult to get into the work zone. The kids are so noisy and I found it so embarrassing. The crew would be outside and then they would see my kids sort of going crazy in the house and I thought they were definitely judging my parenting.

What will you be covering this time around? 

We are led by what public feeling, is which is the advantage of doing it week by week. 

When we did the last series, obviously people were very much adjusting to what the hell this all meant.  That’s how I felt, how the Ranganation felt and how production felt, so you sort of end up reacting to that and talking about what it's like to be shopping, homeschooling and all of that kind of stuff. 

But then equally when big news stuff happened we spoke about that, for example with Dominic Cummings and the Barnard Castle incident. So I think it'll be very similar in series three, and we will be very reactive. 

Do you have any favourite highlights from the show? 

There was one moment where Ex Banker, who is very much his own man - sent in a video apropos of nothing, of him on one of his walks. He saw a cuckoo and so he videoed it and submitted it into the production team as something fun to talk  about. And then we put it on the show. 

It just was like 30  seconds of a tree where you couldn't see the cuckoo but you could hear one, somewhere. For me it’s the moment that summarises The Ranganation. You don't know where we're going to go. 

Obviously we prepare stuff but you just  don't know what they're going to come up with, so it was such a mad moment. I can't believe he thought that was something we would broadcast but in the end we did broadcast it so he was absolutely right!.

What shows or hobbies have brought you joy over the last year? 

Because you’ve got so much more time I ended up watching stuff that I was supposed to watch ages ago. For example, my wife and I watched Game of Thrones from start to finish. We’re so late on that! 

I think you end up gravitating towards things that are so far removed as you want that escapism. I also became addicted to the game Beat Saber on the Oculus VR goggles. It’s like Guitar Hero, you’ve got two lightsabers, and a song plays, and you have to slice these boxes to the beat. Anyway there’s something completely meditative about it.  I ended up having to be reminded that I've got a real life to get back to, it’s so addictive!.

DJing is the other thing I’ve been doing; I’m trying to learn how to mix. Where we filmed Ranganation last series I’ve got a whole mixing set-up now. so I’m doing that all of the time. 

How’s your parenting been coming along? Have you improved at all in that department, or have any new challenges come to light? 

The truth is that I don't think we've improved at all really. 

I think we have accepted there are limitations to what can be done at home. When we were homeschooling during the first lockdown, we were just Bricking It about getting all the work done and getting the kids into the routine. 

Whereas this time around it’s still stressful, but my wife and I have become much more zen about going, ‘We’re going to do what we can do.’

 If the kids get fed up, or it feels that we're pushing them too hard, or we're all feeling a bit over it, we will just take a break from it. 

The truth is we’re just trying to manage and I think we've been a bit more forgiving of ourselves this time. If we one day decide we're  not going to do that much, I think we've accepted that that is something that's alright to do. 

Has your mum Shanthi mastered the tech side of things now? 

When the restrictions came back my mum and I started doing this thing where we would call each other every day, so we started trying to put the calls on YouTube. 

Getting my mum to a point where she could do that was so frustrating. For example, we’d be on a Zoom and she couldn’t figure out how to share the screen. So I had to get her to video call me, then point her phone at her screen so I could talk her through what to do, but she couldn't even get her phone pointed at the screen properly. 

So I’d be like, ‘Mum, I can't advise you because your camera is pointing at the table.’ I totally appreciate that she is coming from a different generation so I can't get annoyed about it, but this is objectively speaking, incredibly annoying. 

It’s sort of balancing being understanding and being empathetic, but at the same time going through one of the most frustrating experiences you could ever imagine. 

What are your general hopes for 2021 and, of course, for this series of The Ranganation? 

In terms of the series, I hope we manage to do the same as we did last series in being a show that finds the light side of the horrendous situation we're all in. I think that we’ll also be better at it, because last year it was in the garage and there are difficulties with that. 

In terms of the year in general, I'm just desperate to get back on stage and to get in front of audiences. Doing stand-up, I love it so much and it’s impossible to do now for obvious reasons. 

But even when you go and do The Ranganation in a studio in front of an audience it’s so much fun and I think going out and watching a comic or theatre or anything like that, people are desperate to get back out and do. 

In between lockdowns I was able to do some outdoor gigs, and people were just so appreciative and desperate to go out and have a laugh. So I’m hoping that this year we get back to that.

 I've got tour dates scheduled, so fingers crossed things go as we’re hoping they will and we get back into it. 

• The Ranganation returns to BBC Two at 9pm on Sunday February 7.

Published: 2 Feb 2021

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