Presenter Matt Allwright recently appeared as a co-host on BBC1’s The One Show, but is best known for his work on Watchdog. He joined Watchdog in 1997, and has also presented shows including Rogue Traders, Scambusters and Brassed Off Britain. Allwright is also fronting The Secret Tourist, a consumer holiday show coming to BBC1 in July. Watchdog can be seen on Thursdays on BBC1.
YOU’VE BEEN DOING WATCHDOG FOR A WHILE NOW, DO THE CASES STILL SHOCK YOU?
I could never be jaded. Part of the job is hearing about how much difference the money they’ve lost made to them. It could be life-changing, especially with people who are maybe elderly or vulnerable. I know we have a lot of laughs in the programme, but we do take the job very seriously.
WERE YOU AT ALL APPREHENSIVE ABOUT HAVING TO DOORSTEP PEOPLE WHEN YOU STARTED FILMING ROGUE TRADERS?
When we’ve been following a story for weeks and weeks, and you get to the stage where you’ve actually got someone in your sights and on behalf of all the people that are watching and all the people they’ve screwed over in the past, you get the chance to put those questions to them, it is quite satisfying. Maybe satisfying is not the right word, but you get a buzz from being able to do that.
HAS ANYONE EVER GOT VIOLENT WITH YOU?
On a couple of occasions, I’ve been pushed over and poked and grabbed and shoved. I’ve had a leaf blower swung at me and in the last series someone stuck a pen up my nose, so it does happen.
DO YOU HAVE TROUBLE WHEN YOU NEED TO CALL IN ANYONE TO DO WORK ON YOUR OWN HOUSE?
It’s an absolute nightmare! I came down my road one day and this guy was fixing the aerial, and he saw me and nearly fell off the roof. I have to stay away from the house when we’re having things done because otherwise everyone gets a bit jumpy.
IS YOUR WATCHDOG CO-PRESENTER ANNE ROBINSON AS SCARY AS EVERYONE SEEMS TO THINK SHE IS?
I don’t think she’s scary at all. I think she’s direct, and that takes people a little while to get used to, but as long as you are direct with her, it’s fine. When you get a big show like that, you’re like a family, and you have arguments and fallings out, but that’s part of it. One of the joys of television is those discussions, they make you work out how you feel about stuff as you’re actually making the programme, and having a good old ding dong with Annie is actually one of life’s great joys.
DO YOU ENJOYING WORKING ON THE ONE SHOW?
Yes, it’s great. The thing with Rogue Traders is that I very rarely have willing interviewees. It’s so bizarre to be on The One Show and have people come on because they want to talk to you, rather than because we’re trying to catch them out. So to suddenly be making a piece about taxation or The Wizard Of Oz or any of the hugely varied items that end up on The One Show is good.
HAVE YOU GOT ANYTHING ELSE IN THE PIPELINE?
There’s another series going out I think in July, called The Secret Tourist. It’s an undercover holiday show. The problem with being undercover and on TV is that they’re mutually exclusive, but I can still get away with it - I just wear a balaclava.
YOU TURN 40 THIS YEAR - DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO CELEBRATE?
I’m having the mother of all karaoke nights, I was going to have live music, but that means all I’d do is play music with the band all night, and I don’t get to talk to anybody, so my wife has told me I can’t do that. Karaoke is different because if they can wrestle the microphone out of my hands, everybody gets to have a go at that.