Nice people doing lovely things? That's not our show... | Jimmy Carr on Battle In The Box 

Nice people doing lovely things? That's not our show...

Jimmy Carr on Battle In The Box 

Battle In The Box  comes to the newly rebranded U&Dave next week, a British version of a Korean gameshow in which a teams of two celebrities go head-to-head with challenges while trapped together in a tiny box for a full day and night – as the walls literally close in. Here Jimmy Carr talks about the show: 

How would you describe Battle In The Box ?

I’s like an ‘escape room’ where you play games, but even if you win those games you don’t get let out. It’s more of a ‘can’t escape room' really.

What was your reaction to being asked to take part?

When I was offered the show, I initially said, ‘No’. That sounds like a nightmare.’ But it turned out they wanted me to host. I said, ‘Of course I’ll host. I’m just not going in there. I’m not an idiot.’  Some offence to our contestants: what were they thinking?

What did you find appealing about locking comedians and celebrities in a box for a whole day and night and having them obey your commands?

That’s a question which is very difficult to answer without incriminating myself. George Orwell’s 1984 is obviously a dystopian nightmare. Well it’s a nightmare for everyone apart from Big Brother – he’s having a great time. And in Battle In The Box I get to be Big Brother. 

And everyone in the show is funny. What’s not to like?  There are shows that you watch for relaxation, where you see nice people doing lovely things, shows like Bake Off. Battle In The Box scratches a very different itch.

What does a day and night of game-playing in a confined space do to players?

Going into the box, everyone has a game plan, until they’re hungry, sleep-deprived and driven to distraction - which is when the good bits happen! Never mind going into a box, try and not look at your phone for 24 hours and see how you do. I’d defy anyone to not get quite irritable.  I’d argue if you don't use your phone for 24 hours it would feel like the walls are closing in, even if they're not.

Why do you think the comedians wanted to take part?

For them this is like a fairground ride: it’s a little bit scary, they might feel slightly nauseous at points, but it’s ultimately exciting.

Did some of them not grasp how small the box would feel inside?

Other shows which place people in confined spaces give them a shower or a little bit of privacy, but we thought they’d be fine without. I think our health & safety officer was drunk when the box was designed.

How do people change in the box?

You see people who are tired, crotchety, and quick to snap. And it’s fun to watch! If they were just being happy and doing nice things, that’d be something else – that’d be children’s television.

When a team wins a challenge they can buy luxuries for their side of the box - what sort of prizes could they purchase?

When we say luxuries, this is not The Kardashians. Nobody’s winning a yacht. The best luxury item is an Indian takeaway. Other ‘luxury’ experiences included Harriet Kemsley and Lara Ricote having a sound bath – which is some hippy dippy nonsense. And Josh Pugh and Amy Gledhill got a butler.

Which players struggled the most?

Nobody was asked to leave, so that's an upside. Tom Rosenthal came pretty close to losing it. He wasn’t as good at the challenge as he thought he was going to be, and it’s a great episode.

Nabil Abdulrashid has been to prison and he found it stressful. I mean, he's legit spent time in prison, and he found it very tough. So that tells you something. 

Ellie Taylor meanwhile was seven months pregnant at the time of filming, and she just cracked on with it.

Do you have any favourite moments from the series?

There was a lovely bromance between Seann Walsh and Joe Swash. There was an instance of pride before a fall with Joe Swash which viewers might learn from. He was so happy to win a toastie maker and then managed to give himself dysentery by cooking with it. I mean you really have to fuck up a toasted sandwich to give yourself dysentery.

Did you ever treat a team more harshly because of how they talked about you inside the box?

I was tempted to be harder on Seann Walsh because I find him very, very funny. The tougher the situation he's in, the funnier he seems to be. What am I supposed to do?

How much abuse did players send your way during filming?

Very little, because they're not total idiots. And they know maybe next season I won’t let them out.

Battle In The Box Episode Guide

Episodes 1 & 2
Airing July 16 & 17 at 9pm

Laura Ricote and Harriet Kemsley
vs Seann Walsh and Joe Swash

Episodes 3 & 4
Airing July 23 & 24

Josh Jones and Fatiha El-Ghorri
vs Katherine Ryan and Tom Rosenthal

Episodes 5 & 6
Airing July 30 & 31

TX Tuesday 23rd & Wednesday 24th July

Guz Khan and Rachel Parris
vs Amy Gledhill and Josh Pugh

Episodes 7 & 8
Airing August 6 & 7

Ellie Taylor and  Jessica Knappett
vs Jamie Laing and Nabil Abdulrashid

• The whole series of Battle In The Box will be streaming for free on U from July 16

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Published: 9 Jul 2024

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