Interview: Romesh Ranganathan On The New Series Of The Ranganation

Interview: Romesh Ranganathan On The New Series Of The Ranganation

Romesh Ranganathan’s award-winning topical comedy show The Ranganation returns to BBC Two and BBC iPlayer at 9pm on 3 October, to bring a dose of optimistic entertainment to the nation.

Romesh will once again be joined virtually by his focus group the Ranganation - 20 loveable, outspoken characters who represent a cross-section of modern Britain. For this series, the two celebrity guests will be alongside Romesh in the studio to mull over the lighter end of the news spectrum. Previous guests have included Aisling Bea, Danny Dyer, Freddie Flintoff, Judi Love, Katherine Ryan, Paloma Faith and Mo Gilligan.

Now in its fourth series, the show continues to grow in popularity, with Romesh winning a Bafta for Entertainment Performance for the show earlier this year. The previous series is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.

The Ranganation is a Zeppotron (a Banijay UK company) production for the BBC. Ruth Phillips and Richard Cohen are Executive producers for Zeppotron, Mark Barrett is the Series Producer and Barbara Wiltshire is the Director. The series was commissioned by Kate Phillips, Director Entertainment Commissioning at the BBC. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Ruby Kuraishe.

Q&A with Romesh Ranganathan

Could you quickly summarise what The Ranganation is and how the show will work this time around?

The Ranganation is where we look at the things that everyone’s talking about on a weekly basis and I discuss them with 20 members of the British public, two celebrity guests and one of the Ranganation (my mum). It’s not necessarily the biggest news stories, but it will be our take on the things that are happening. I’m going to be in the studio again for this series with the guests, and the Ranganation are going to be on Zoom, so it’s changing every series.

Are most of The Ranganation returning? Including your mum, who is gaining a bit of a profile herself these days?

All of the main Ranganation will be coming back. We tend to introduce a few new people each series, but you’re not going to ever see a complete replacement of all 20 of them on the show, that will never happen. My mum is coming back, she’s very excited. She loves getting recognised for being on The Ranganation more than anyone I know - more than any of the other members of the Ranganation, more than me. Every week of last series, she bought a new bouquet of flowers to put in the background of her shot. She really thinks about that frame, the little backdrop of her in the grid, how the shot looks, how she looks, it’s all she talks about all week.

How do you feel about being back in the studio with the guests, and almost back to working in normal circumstances?

Last series it was a bit weird: we had the guests on Zoom, we had the Ranganation on Zoom, so I was the only one actually in the studio. Obviously we had the camera ops and the production team, but they were all terrified of coming anywhere near me - I hope it’s because of Covid. It was a weird experience, but this time it’s going to be nice to have a couple of people in there with me. I think it’s better for the guests, because we want the guests to interact with the Ranganation as much as possible, and obviously Zoom is a degree of separation, so I think having them in there with us will add a bit to the chat.

Are you pleased to hopefully see the end of lockdown and home-schooling etc?

For me, I just feel so sorry for the kids being prisoner to their parents, it’s been really tough for them. At the beginning, everyone was talking about quality time with the family, but the gloss came off that pretty quickly. It sort of feels quite exciting, there’s a lot of going to things, walking into a pub saying, “I can’t believe we’re doing this!” or a restaurant, “I can’t believe we’re sitting down and eating!”. It’s like people are discovering gigs and restaurants for the first time ever which is quite nice, but what will happen is, everyone will get used to that and we’ll settle into our default setting of being slightly moany about everything.

Do you think your mum has grasped the technological side of things now she’s had a couple of series to get used to it?

My mum is not incapable of working technology. She could do it, if she put herself through it. She just wants to be guided through it. Every now and again, we’ll FaceTime her and you just see her chin or she’ll be in the bottom left corner and it’ll be mostly wall. We did a thing during one of the lockdowns where I wanted to try record our FaceTimes and put them up on YouTube. The 45 minutes it took for us to get to the point where she was on the screen and ready to go was some of the most stressful moments of my pandemic. It was insane.

Are you able to tease any of the celeb guests?

We’re in the process of getting them in, but I can tell you that Nadiya Hussain is coming on, which is exciting, and Roisin Conaty, who is one of my favourite comics. There’s loads more in the mix.

Who would your dream celeb guests be?

My dream guest would probably be Louis Theroux. I would love to see how he would interact with the Ranganation. I’ve asked him every series and he’d said he’d loved to and then he doesn’t come on... because he’s so booked up. I’ve just made it look like there’s some sort of beef between me and Theroux, but there isn’t.

Do you have any idea of the topics that will be covered in this series?

We tend to be led by what’s happening, but I think we’ll be talking a lot about people trying to return to a sense of normality and what that means. At the moment, people are coming out of lockdown and returning to normal life, but there are some things that are staying. I think it’s going to be a new version, do we do things in a slightly different way. I think we’ll be talking about that and how people are reacting to that. I follow some of the Ranganation on social media and I’ve been seeing them being released back into the wild - one of them has just released a single, I want to ask him about that. I feel like “cautiously optimistic” is going to be the theme of this series.

The series has grown from strength to strength, how does it feel to be coming back for a fourth series with a Bafta win for the series earlier this year?

I really love doing this show and I love chatting to the Ranganation. The truth is, most of the work happens in the prep, the hard work is sitting down and figuring out what we’re going to talk about, and writing the scripts. The actual record itself is just a laugh, it’s a really fun evening so I love doing it. I’m really excited about getting back to it. If I’m being absolutely honest, every series I slightly worry that I’m going to struggle to do it. It’s a bit of a juggling act with all of the Ranganation and the guests and me getting us through. I just worry that I won’t be able to follow it all, it’s a big paranoia in the back of my mind. This is either going to be the series that’s better than the last or it’s going to be fun watching me break down - either way I think it’ll be great telly.


Interview supplied by BBC

Picture: Rich Hardcastle


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