The Scottish comedian has built up quite a following thanks to his dry takes on the Islanders’ antics, and as a result, has just been handed his own ITV2 gameshow, ‘Celebability’, which starts this week.
As the current series of ‘Love Island’ heats up, we caught up with Iain direct from his sun-lounger in Mallorca for all the goss, and he spilled on which contestant has surprised him so far and why he thinks the show is beating ‘Big Brother’ in the ratings.
The new series is great and ratings have been so strong - why do you think it’s doing so well this year?
This year is just building on the momentum of last year, which was the absolute turning point. We got lucky because the massive storyline between Malin and Terry happened around the same time as Brexit and the rubbish weather. The whole country was down in the dumps, but it was just amazing.
This year, all the Islanders know what it’s about and know they need to be in a couple to stay in, and the people who make the show just know how to make it. It’s reality TV, but we don’t pretend it’s anything else. It’s not life-changing, it’s silly and people just get it.
You’ve also overtaken ‘Big Brother’ - was it a surprise to overtake such a well-established show?
I think we’re more relevant. It’s summertime, we’ve got beautiful people, big characters, the villa is gorgeous. What do you want to watch - a load of people in the arse end of England in a little house, or just beautiful people with six packs running around a luxury, multi-million pound villa? It’s just more visually entertaining, and because of the way we do the voiceover, we can go in any direction.
‘Big Brother’ is stuck in its ways now as it was a social experiment originally and with the voiceover, there’s only so many ways you can take it. We can do what we want with ours really. I also think people overlook the way we use music too, because that’s always so brilliant.
What has been your favourite part of the series so far?
It’s got to be Camilla just every now and again just coming up and stealing the show like a silent assassin. She’s a dark horse. The analogy I’m using at the minute is she’s like a number nine striker, who does nothing all game but then scores the match-winning goal in the 88th minute. When she started getting off with all the boys in the kissing task, I was like, ‘Camilla!’ - it was brilliant.
Has there been anything so far you’ve found uncomfortable viewing?
This series, not at all. The reason I don’t feel uncomfortable is everyone totally gets why they’ve gone in. Because it’s a couple thing, it’s never one person pressured into a situation they don’t want to find themselves in.
How did you end up getting the gig on ‘Love Island’?
It’s a really weird one, like a lot of jobs really. A lot of ones I’ve really chased and wanted - as a comic, I’ve always wanted to do a ‘Mock The Week’ - it’s always discussed, but for whatever reason it doesn’t happen. But this ‘Love Island’ thing was mentioned to me months in advance, and I wasn’t really a reality TV-watcher, so I wasn’t that fussed.
About a month later, I got the gig and I ummed and ahhed about it for ages, but a few comic friends of mine told be to go to Spain and just do it. Within a week, it was amazing. It was the double whammy of having a good job, being in Spain and it being lovely, and realising ‘oh my God, reality TV is brilliant!’ Now I’m all over it. ‘Gogglebox’, ‘First Dates’ - I love it all.
Talk us through a typical day for you working on ‘Love Island’.
I’m out in Mallorca for seven weeks. I work six days a week with a Saturday off. I normally go in after lunch about 1-2pm, and they’ll pretty much have the final edit of the show. Then I go into a portacabin with a 49-year-old Scottish man called Mark, who is a writer and actually came up with the format as well. He’s an amazing writer and also writes all the Ant and Dec links on ‘I’m A Celebrity’. So we sit and watch the episode like a viewer, then we go through and do some jokes and put some lines in where the editors may have missed to put a joke - we’ll say like we want to mention someone is sitting next to a crisp packet or something silly. Then we go in about 4-5pm to record it all and we push it as far as we can, then the execs have a look at it.
How much stuff does get cut?
Now, not that much. I think that’s 50% they trust us more, and 50% us being inherently lazy people and not wanting to put in something we know is going to get taken out, because that’s just more work for us. The first couple of weeks in series one, it really wasn’t good, and I would just pop up at the start and end - I was barely in it. I used to be on a live show with Caroline Flack, and I think I only got on that because I was a comic in Spain and ended up getting on well with her. It’s her show and she’s so good at it, so now I quite like just being the voice.
How do you feel about the racier moments in the show?
People always talk about the sex scenes in it, and sex on telly is quite taboo, but it’s always done in a sitcom way. You’ll see a leg shudder or a rumble of the covers - there’s nothing X-rated there. It’s like a ‘Carry On’ film.
We had four couples having sex last year, and it could have really been quite sordid, but we ended up playing horse racing music over it, and it was just funny. It just disarms it.
Would you ever consider going on ‘Love Island’ yourself?
I’m looking at myself in the reflection of a window right now, and there’s no way I could put this body on television. I have a new show coming out on ITV2, and I’m wearing a suit because it’s quite gameshow-y, and I have a waistcoat on in every single episode - it’s 50% waistcoat, 50% girdle.
Can you tell us a bit about your new show, ‘Celebability’?
It’s absolutely bonkers! I’m describing it as ‘Eggheads’ meets ‘Celebrity Juice’. You have five celebs against a group of five friends, and they take on the celebs, who each have a hidden talent. They’re all so silly.
If the celebrity wins, they get to stay in the end game, or if the non-celeb wins, they get to stay in the end game, which is questions about the celebrities. So the more celebs you knock out, the higher chance you have of winning money.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened?
The celebs are so up for it. In the first or second episode, there’s Olivia Buckland who said she can make a great cup of tea, so we had an elastic band tied around her head as she tried to put teabags into mugs using just her mouth. It’s just the dumbest thing.
You’re heading off to the Edinburgh Festival then off on tour after ‘Love Island’ finishes - does any of your TV work inspire your stand-up?
More and more, I suppose. When you do stand-up, you have people in the room for an hour, so you want to say something a little bit more. It’s the same sort of humour I use in the voiceover, but whereas I might do jokes about Olivia breaking up with Sam, I might talk about Ken Clarke breaking up with Theresa May. In the same way Marcel bangs on about being in Blazin’ Squad, Theresa May bangs on about being strong and stable. It’s the same sort of idea really.
We don’t get to see you on ‘Love Island’ very much - what is the reaction when people realise you are the voiceover guy?
The biggest reaction I’ve actually had was from one of the old Islanders. I went to Olivia Buckland’s bikini launch the other day and I met Tina from series two. So I obviously went, ‘oh hi, Tina’, because I’d watched her on telly. But she was like, ‘who is this weirdo?’ Someone then told her I was the voiceover guy, and she couldn’t believe it.
The one place I always get recognised for my voice - and this is the God’s honest truth - is when I’m at the till in Topman paying for my clothes. Every time.
‘Love Island’ airs nightly at 9pm on ITV2. ‘Celebability’ starts on Thursday 15 June at 10pm on ITV2. Iain also performs ‘YOU OK HUN? X’ at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at the Pleasance Above from 2 - 27 August, ahead of a nationwide tour. Check out www.iaindoesjokes.com for more details.