As sports panel show A League Of Their Own returns for its 14th series, Sky News chats to team captain Jamie Redknapp about what’s in store.
This time round, the series is bringing in guest hosts for some episodes so you’re mainly without regular host James Corden due to his filming commitments in the US. Are you missing him?
Well, we’re not without him because he’s doing still doing two shows. He’s so busy right now, it shows you how much he loves the show, the fact that no matter how crammed his diary is he’s still fitting it in to do the two.
It was his idea to get guests presenters. I think it’s worked well, it’s been good. I can’t lie, we miss James, of course, because he’s one of the best entertainers in the world and he’s my mate and I love him. So it has been different but obviously I hope that everyone’s going to love the fact that we’ve got some different people in. Different presenters have their own ideas and styles, and I think it has been really good. I’ve really enjoyed it this year.
So it’s not a case of him being a diva, thinking he’s too big for you guys now he’s working in LA?
No, he wouldn’t have done the shows in the first place. I think that was why he was so good. It was amazing that he came and did the shows and I think it was lovely that he did that, it was obviously great having him on.
Guest presenters include Amanda Holden and David Walliams, and series regular Romesh Ranganathan is also stepping up. Who’s the favourite?
It was funny with Romesh doing it actually, because he had a bit of a power trip and was starting to believe the hype so we had to pull him down a peg or two. Joking aside, he was great. They’ve all been brilliant and they’ve all put their own spin on it which has been nice. They’ve not forgotten what the show’s about and everyone has a bit of a pop, a bit of a joke with each other.
We’re speaking ahead of a bit of a family episode, as dad Harry – football manager and former king of the I’m A Celebrity… jungle – is here. How is it working together?
It’s good. It’s different, I must admit. Romesh has done [shows] with his mum and Jack Whitehall’s done it with his dad and it’s sort of… You know, there’s that respect thing. At the end of the day, he’s your dad and we’ve always had a great friendship, never really had any fall-outs. So it is good.
Obviously, I’ve always looked at my dad as the Premier League fantastic football manager but now people look at him as the King of the Jungle and that’s what everyone talks about. ‘Your dad was amazing on I’m A Celebrity…’, and I’m like well, he was an amazing manager. People have almost forgotten that bit! But it’s all good fun.
No plans to follow him into the jungle?
I don’t think I could. You can’t follow that. I think you’ve got to know what you’re good at and he was so good, so funny. And I think it wasn’t just my dad, it was the love affair with my mum [which he spoke about on the show] and all that. And I think it made people realise, you know, what a nice guy he is and obviously their relationship, how strong it is. It was really refreshing for people to see…
Everyone thinks of my dad as, I can imagine, going down the pub and being in a boozer with all his mates. That’s completely the opposite to what he is really, he just likes being with my mum, going for dinners, and I think that’s probably the longest they’ve ever been apart, when he did the jungle. He was fantastic, he was very funny. But as I always say, my mum’s the star of the show. She’s the most lovely person and she’s been great for him, and she keeps him on the straight and narrow, if you like.
Romesh’s mum Shanthi has appeared alongside him in shows such as Asian Provocateur and Just Another Immigrant, and Jack Whitehall, another former regular and now guest host, did Travels With My Father with his dad. How about something similar with Harry?
There is an idea… that would be a lot of fun. I think he’s great with people, my dad, so I think something involving interviewing people, just talking. I think he’d be amazing. He’s funny and he doesn’t know he’s funny, he doesn’t try hard, he just is.
On A League Of Their Own it’s about more than just sporting knowledge. How do you feel about all the stunts you have to do?
I hate it. That’s the hardest thing about the show is doing all those crazy things. You put your life in their hands sometimes but it’s fun, it’s all part of the show and… thankfully no broken wrist this year. [Redknapp broke his wrist while filming for the show in 2018].
The show has spawned several “road trip” spin-offs, which see you and fellow team captain Freddie Flintoff take on challenges, and the loser at the end has to take on a forfeit. How smug did you feel at the end of the latest series, European Road Trip, when Freddie had to do a bungee jump off a Swiss dam?
I was very happy. But Fred… it was almost like it wasn’t a forfeit for Fred. You know, he just doesn’t care. He’s fearless. Nothing like that bothers him. He’s such an amazing guy.
Would you have done it?
Oh, I’d have had to do it. Yeah, of course. It would have took me probably an hour-and-a-half to get off, but he just went boom, straight down, and I think that’s the difference between me and Fred. That’s why the show works. Freddie’s fearless, I’m the way I am. That’s the chemistry that works between us. We’ve got a dynamic that works and people like the fact that we all get on well but we’re all quick to give each other a bit of stick, too.
Are you very competitive, the two of you?
Yeah, of course. To be a sportsman, you have to be competitive. That’s part of what you do, I suppose, and it sort of… makes you tick, it’s your oxygen, you know; when you want to do something you want to do it well. But I also don’t take myself too seriously and I think that’s part of the show. If you’re going to be on this show you cannot take yourself seriously because you’re going to get stick, and you’ve got to learn to laugh at yourself, you’ve got to have fun. And that’s what we do.
What’s the worst thing you’ve had to do?
All the scary challenges! The ones when you actually… you go up heights and you’ve gotta jump off. We did danger push-ups, which Tony Bellew did. Oh, but the worst thing that we did in this series, Tony Bellew and I, we wing-walked. That was horrendous. I hated every second of it. And they told me, when you get up there you’re going to love it. I didn’t love it. When I got up there, I just wanted to get down. So I couldn’t wait for it to be over. But I’m sure it made good TV because both of us were scared out of our lives.
Why do you put yourself through it?
Because you just do. And then I suppose there’s peer pressure… and they bully me. I think that’s what it is. I’m easily bullied.
Can we talk about the Women’s World Cup while we’re here…
Oh, it was great. It was really good, but I knew it would be. Obviously, America were the best team, they deserved it. When you have a major tournament you need the big players to perform, and obviously Alex Morgan was brilliant and [Megan] Rapinoe, she was great. She got player of the tournament and rightly so. And she was the difference, I think, for the American team, but I thought England did really well… the way we played, the style of football, they were just a little bit unlucky. You need big moments to go your way; VAR obviously played a big part in it as well.
I thought it was great to watch and I think what it’s done… with tournaments, whatever sport it is, you need to encourage people to play, and there’s a lot of young girls who will have watched that and thought you know what, I want to do that. So it was great. And you know, they should be so proud of what they’ve done. And I think the country really enjoyed watching them.
- Sky One’s A League of Their Own returns on Thursday 15 August at 9pm