She may look like the Ice Queen on screen, but behind the cameras Anne Hegerty is anything but. I’m delighted to discover a warm, gregarious woman gushing with enthusiasm for the show that changed her life – and in particular the man at its helm, Bradley Walsh. “Brad is brilliant,” says Anne. “What you see on screen is exactly what he’s really like. And right from the start he’s been so generous to all of us Chasers.”
Despite their sparky repartee on the show, which often sees Anne put Bradley in his place with a withering put-down, or him trying to crack her stony façade with his cheeky-chappy chuckle, off set it’s obvious that the pair get on like a house on fire. “I’m always kind of in awe of Brad. I think he’s such a professional and absolutely delightful. I admire him enormously.”
Certainly filming on the set with him sounds like an absolute hoot. “In between takes, Brad is always cracking jokes and there’s a lot of laughter on the set,” says Anne, who became a Chaser through her connections with the Mastermind club, a gathering of past winners and contestants from the BBC quiz. Anne was a contestant in the Eighties.
But back to The Chase, even when the cameras are rolling, there’s a fair few giggles on screen, often the result of the producers throwing some mischievous double entendres into the mix of questions. “Ever since a certain incident when Brad and I got completely stitched up by the question setters (let’s just say the name of the lady in the question raised a few eyebrows) they’ve obviously decided it’s worth their while trying to make me giggle. I do try very hard to keep it together and don’t consider myself a tremendous corpser, but on that one incident I really did finally lose it.”
And it’s not just Bradley that Anne has a great friendship with. The other Chasers, both on the UK show and the Australian version Anne appears in, are all big buddies. “We all hang out with each other a lot and we absolutely get on. On Facebook we have a running private message going where we touch base with each other and keep everyone up to date about the results of the show we’ve been recording that day. And then after work, we’ll go out for drinks in the evening.”
But as all good Chasers know, it’s not just the quizzing that counts. “You also need a certain amount of presence and acting ability to be a Chaser,” says Anne, who was originally nicknamed The Headmistress before Bradley started calling her The Governess, which she likes much better.
“My transformation into the Governess doesn’t start on set, but when I’m being made up backstage. Especially when the lipstick goes on as I would normally never wear that shade of red. Then with my hair done and the costume on, I look in the mirror and I’m like ‘oh yes, there she is!’ And suddenly I start to sound like the Governess.”
Once in character, Anne certainly does an excellent job of terrifying the wits out of the contestants. “It does seem to be quite intimidating for people to come on the show, but I can’t think why,” Anne says with an impish laugh. “It’s a complete mystery!”
As The Chase celebrates its 1000th episode this month, Anne is so grateful to be part of this show that’s gripped the nation. “Being part of The Chase has taken me to Australia, we’ve won a National Television Award and I’ve done things like Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and Tonight at the London Palladium, which I think Brad had a big hand in.”
So what does she think is the appeal of The Chase?
“I think first of all it’s the solid format, with the three-way question master, contestant and the snooty person sitting at the top trying to destroy their hopes and dreams. And of course Bradley who’s a superb host.”
But she admits she does get concerned about the star’s workload. “I once said to Brad that I worry so much that he works too hard and I’m afraid he’ll have a heart attack. And he just went ‘oh but I love it.’ I believe he’s described the show as his pension so I’d like to think he’ll never leave. And I don’t think us Chasers will be going anywhere either as we love it.” And so say all of us!
- The Chase is on ITV weekdays, 5pm
- For more star chat, grab the latest issue of Yours.
Did you know?
- The series started in 2009.
- Three hour-long episodes of The Chase are filmed back-to-back each day, with each episode taking around two hours to record.
- With a regular audience of three to five million, it’s one of ITV's most successful daytime shows ever.
- Regional versions have been made in Australia, China, Croatia, Germany, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and the United States. Chasers Mark Labbett and Anne both feature as chasers on the Australian version.