New show keeping Chris Brown on his toes
CHRIS Brown is pushing himself to new extremes on Sunday Night Takeaway.
The vet-turned-TV-presenter and his co-host, Julia Morris, walk a tightrope each week on the variety show as they pull off pranks and audience surprises, some months in the planning.
"We're in here four days before the show getting everything right. For me the most nerve-racking part is if we're going to surprise someone then I want to make sure that when I go up into the audience and I sit next to them that I'm talking to the right person," he says during a visit to the show's Sydney studios.
"Nothing scares me more than sitting down next to the wrong person, so before the show I spend a lot of time with one of the producers and we test each other on where the audience members are sitting.
"I remember when the show as announced the adjective they used to describe it was 'ambitious'. About three minutes into our first show I remember thinking 'Oh that's why'. There are so many moving parts... Things can really go horribly wrong at any time, which is the exciting part."
The variety show's emotional climax comes in a segment called 'the happiest minute', during which Chris races around the studio giving free holidays out to deserving audience members. It's one of the joys of the job, but it has also brought him to tears.
"There are some amazing stories out there and people going through some incredibly challenging times," he says.
"To be part of that moment and give them some respite from the challenges of their lives is such a privilege.
"When you've got a grown man crying next to you it's pretty tough but a nice responsibility to have."
Sunday Night Takeaway is based on the hugely popular UK series, hosted by Ant and Dec on Saturdays, which has become a weekend viewing staple. Just a handful of episodes in, it's still a relatively new concept for Australian viewers.
Chris says he's prepared for Takeaway to be a slow burn, rather than an immediate success.
"It takes you a few watches to get why we're doing this and we fully expect that," he says.
"We were talking to Ant and Dec the other day and they were saying in their first series they had the same issues where people were like 'Why is there a couch out on the street?' It took two or three seasons for people to click and go 'OK this is what it is'.We're not overly surprised certain elements need tightening up. I feel like each show we do is better than the last."
He couldn't imagine hosting the show with anyone other than his TV 'wife' Julia Morris.
"Julia and I trust each other. There are so many times subtle things are going wrong that at home you hopefully don't even notice," he says.
"You can have a bit of banter and it papers over any cracks."
Sunday Night Takeaway airs Sundays at 7.30pm on Ten.