Emma Willis reveals why new comedy panel show job was ‘daunting’

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Emma Willis has said it was “daunting” when she signed up to host a new panel show, because she is not a comedian.

The former Big Brother host fronts new entertainment series Pants On Fire in which daredevil duos attempt some of the “stupidest, bravest but often pointless challenges in locations around the globe” before trying to convince a celebrity jury they have been successful in their missions, even if they have failed.

The first episode’s panellists are comedian Jimmy Carr and TV presenter Scarlett Moffatt, and Willis said she was glad to have them on board as she was “absolutely shitting it” hosting the programme, despite having presented prime time shows including The Voice UK and Big Brother, the latter of which she worked on from 2013 until it was axed last year.

Emma Willis presents Pants On Fire (Channel 4/PA)

Willis told the PA news agency: “(Scarlett) is very honest and very straight-talking, she’s so very natural and anything that comes out of her mouth is very genuine.

“And Jimmy is brutal, which I loved and was perfect for the first episode because I was absolutely shitting it doing that show, because I’ve never hosted a panel show before.

“It’s quite daunting, you know, that’s not my thing and I don’t do comedy. I’m not a comedian so when you’re in a situation where you are trying to, you’re trying to guide a show packed with comedians – it’s quite daunting.

“But it’s amazing, really, because I don’t have to do that, I just have to be me, have fun and make sure we hit certain points and get to the conclusions.

“For me, it’s like going to a comedy show and watching it in front of my eyes every night.”

Jimmy Carr, Scarlett Moffatt and Emma Willis appear in the first episode (Channel 4/PA)

On whether she herself is good at working out if somebody is lying, Willis said: “I mean, I’m sure I’ve been fooled many times, but I don’t know … I think I’ve got quite good gut instinct with day-to-day life, although my kids can fool me brilliantly, I think.

“But with the show it’s quite tricky because the challenges are so outlandish that you think, ‘That’s absolutely bonkers, there’s no way in hell that is achievable’, and then they pull it off and you’re like, ‘Holy shit, I can’t quite believe it’.”

The teams who undertake the challenges before bluffing their way through the show are comedians Bobby and Harriet, best friends Donna and Verona, and YouTube stars Zac and Jay.

In the first episode, one team claims they pedaloed from Europe to Africa, another says they snuck past security into a world-class athletics event to sprint the 100m, and the third says they became Mexican wrestling champions in Mexico City.

Contestants will tell their best lies (Channel 4/PA)

Willis said, if they made another series, she would “like to be involved” in one of the challenges herself.

“I would like to, I don’t know maybe make a fourth team or join one of their teams for a challenge,” she said.

“I love things like that. There are some that I absolutely wouldn’t do but there are definitely some that I would for sure, like the pedalo challenge – I would have absolutely done that.”

Pants On Fire airs on Thursdays at 9pm on E4 from Thursday October 10.