Ross Kemp has turned his hand to quiz show hosting for the very first time, and will be the presenter of nail-biting new series Bridge of Lies which begins on Monday 14 March on BBC One.
The much-loved actor and presenter, fondly remembered for his role as Grant Mitchell in EastEnders as well as presenting a number of critically-acclaimed documentaries, will preside over teams of contestants as they compete for cash by crossing the Bridge – a collection of stepping stones featuring various truths and lies based on general knowledge categories.
Each player must try to safely step on the truths and avoid the lies, or risk falling off and out of the game. Once they’ve conquered the Bridge on their own, successful contestants will join forces to face the dramatic final crossing for a chance to take home some cash.
Filmed in Glasgow and featuring teams of contestants from across the UK, Bridge of Lies is produced by STV Studios (makers of Catchphrase) and was commissioned by Alex McLeod and Neil McCallum for BBC Daytime as part of a competitive initiative to find new quiz formats made in Scotland.
Bridge of Lies begins on BBC One and iPlayer at 4.30pm on Monday 14 March and continues daily.
Q&A with Ross Kemp
You’ve been an EastEnders icon and a BAFTA-winning documentary maker but never a quiz show host! Why did you decide on such a big change at this point in your career?
Mainly for that very reason: the fact I’ve never done it before. It was a challenge. I sometimes write treatments for documentaries, and I always know that if I can picture it coming off the page, then there’s a good chance it will get made and will make good television. As soon as I read the treatment for Bridge of Lies, I could visualise it coming to life. It all made total sense straight away, and that was really exciting for me.
What makes Bridge of Lies stand out from other quiz shows?
Firstly, it’s very physical. The contestants are not just standing behind a podium answering questions; they have to physically make their way across the Bridge, and that’s no easy feat.
We also get to watch contestants reacting to how their fellow team members play the game. We see inside the various group dynamics and get an insight into how these people interact with each other. It can all get a little bit soapy actually. You don’t have to be a massive quizzer to get into it – it’s as much about following the journey of the contestants as it is about knowing or not knowing the answers.
Were there any particularly funny or emotional moments that have stuck with you since filming the series?
Oh there were loads of memorable moments. I didn’t want any one team to win more than the others, but there was one particular group that I so desperately wanted to do well. They came close to winning but they didn’t actually take the money home and I really felt for them. If I could’ve given them a bit of leeway, I would’ve done, but of course I’m not allowed to.
You clearly got to know the contestants well during filming – does that make it harder when you have to tell some of them they’re leaving with nothing?
It definitely does, and I have to almost sound happy about it at the end of the show as I encourage viewers to come back the next day to watch a different team try to win! I want everyone to take home the money, but the way the game works simply means that can’t happen.
Everybody that takes part is genuinely really lovely. They all have a story to tell, so there are lots of personal reasons for wanting them to win.
Do you have any advice for future Bridge of Lies contestants?
The further across the Bridge you get, the game gets harder. When you’re halfway across, you’ve still got a long way to go, so don’t get too impressed with yourself!
The Bridge can be kind, but it’s a formidable beast. The game relies on knowledge, strategy, and a little bit of luck. It’s loads of fun, but there’s also a lot of jeopardy involved.
Did you take inspiration from any previous game show host for your own quizmaster style? Will you be icy like Anne Robinson or more of a Bruce Forsyth-style softie?
I watched lots of current quiz show hosts, like Alexander Armstrong and Bradley Walsh, as well as some icons like Brucie [Bruce Forsyth] during my research, and my main takeaway from that was: if you want to be successful in this role, you’ve just got to be yourself.
How would a team made up of (EastEnders’) Mitchell family members do on Bridge of Lies?
I think the waiting room would be far more interesting than the actual game! If they manage to defeat the Bridge, the cameras should definitely be kept rolling. I’d like to see what happens in the cab on the way home. Let’s be honest, Phil or Grant would probably end up running off with the cash and heading to Spain for the weekend…