Mo Gilligan on his new book, That Moment When: Life Stories from Way Back Then

Virgin Radio

1 Sep 2021, 11:10

Mo Gilligan. Credit: Getty

Mo Gilligan. Credit: Getty

The comedian joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about his brand new book, and about whether we are going to be seeing more of The Masked Singer and The Masked Dancer.

Mo's new book, entitled That Moment When: Life Stories from Way Back Then, is out tomorrow (2nd September). In it, he journeys through his childhood memories in South London, all the way to becoming one of TV's most in-demand stars. Sharing reminiscences about school days with Gaby Roslin and Ricky Wilson, who are in this week for Chris, Mo said: “It’s the moment when you’re in primary school and you get a little taste of... you get to feel like an adult. Where you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I get to sit on the big chairs!’ Or when you go to secondary school and you get to sit on the normal chairs, and then you go to I.T. and you’re like, ‘Oh my god, a swivel chair!’ And then you can press this bit that makes you go down, and you go up and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is a taste of adulthood.’”

Mo further discussed with Gaby and Ricky some of the childhood memories he touches upon in his new book. “My mum would go to East Street Market, which is down the road,” he said. “And yeah, it’s that thing where you go to the market and I’m like, ‘I really don’t want to be here.’ And then you see someone else and you’re like, ‘Oh, you go to my school, and you don’t want to be here too, and you’re just like me!’

“Weirdly now, I kind of want to go to the market, because it’s helping out small businesses, it’s local produce as well. Plus, it’s that art of a bargain as well. My mum would be like, ‘Can I get 20 pence off the bananas?!’”

In the book, Mo, who was born in Lambeth, London in 1988, also talks about the unsung heroes of the Black British comedy scene, the power of community, the feel-good legacy he wants to create, and about the people who have had an influence on his career. One such person was one of his teachers, called Miss Simpson. He explained: “Success for me has happened very quickly, and there are a lot of people who have played roles in different parts of my life, but that was probably the first person that said, ‘Oh, you’re really good at this. Try this.’ And you’re like, ‘Oh man, no-one’s ever said that.’ And you know when someone says it and they don’t want anything in return? They just say, like, ‘You’re really good, keep at it.’ So, yeah, I always put her in high praises.”

The comedian’s next tour, There’s Mo To Life, kicks off later this month, including a free show for Key Workers, and a special Black British Takeover at London’s O2 arena. Ricky asked Mo about breaking through in his mid-to-late 20s, to which the comedian said: “As I got a little bit older, I reached an age where a lot of my friends in life were finishing university, and getting really good jobs, and planning on moving out, and even small things like going on boys’ holidays and stuff, that’s a big thing for a lot of guys. And me, I’m grafting away and I couldn’t afford these things. When opportunities would come, you’d be like, ‘I’ve got to take it with both hands, because I’m at an age now where - I don’t want to say I’m getting on a bit - but I’m at an age where I want to go on a boys’ holiday, and I’d like to afford it,' so being able to do things like TV, and trying my hand at things, and even trying radio and stuff like that, I was like, ‘I’ve got to just go for it.’”

Going for it clearly paid off, as Mo was recently named 'the funniest man in Britain' by The Times, and he won a BAFTA in 2020 for Best Entertainment Performance for his Late-ish Show on Channel Four. He is also known for being a judge on The Masked Singer and The Masked Dancer. “I feel like with something like The Masked Singer and The Masked Dancer, it’s just joy, and we don’t judge. We just want to see who is under it,” he said.

“Kids love it as well. I think that’s the great thing. Some kids don’t know who people are, and you hear stories when some of the audience come and say ‘Look, my kids play and they ust guess if it’s a man or a woman. That’s how they guess. Is it someone with blonde hair or brown hair? I think that 's so cool, that kids can get involved.”

When Gaby asked if we will be seeing more of either The Masked Singer or The Masked Dancer, Mo told her: “It is coming back. I can’t confirm which one is coming back, but one is coming back soon. We haven’t filmed it yet.”

Mo can also be seen on the sofa with fellow comedian Babatunde Aleshe on Celebrity Gogglebox. He said: “I feel like, especially in these times, people are kind of coming back to TV to be like, ‘I just want to watch joy.’ Even things like Gogglebox, people just want to watch it, have a glass of wine…”

Regarding his BAFTA win last year, Mo told Gaby and Ricky: “It was the height of the pandemic, and we were all indoors making banana bread and working out indoors. It was a strange, surreal time. Luckily enough, I got to go the year before, The Big Narstie Show got nominated, so I got to go, and wear the suit and stuff, whereas last year I didn’t get to go.” 

On being part of the remote ceremony in 2020, the comedian said: “I remember being ultra cool. Just like, ‘I’m on Zoom, I’m just gonna wear a hoodie, innit?’ And my girlfriend was like, ‘No you can’t, because if you win, you don’t want that moment when you’re sitting in a hoodie and your underpants.’ So I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll wear a shirt, but I’m still wearing my underpants, because no-one will see them!’ And yeah, winning was very mad. It was very mad!”

In terms of surreal moments in his career, Mo explained that “it was definitely up there” and said: “I always say those things are a bonus within your career. I don't think anyone starts to be a comedian to say ‘I want to win a BAFTA,’ but it’s definitely a bonus, to have it sitting next to the TV.

“The nicest part was taking it to my mum’s house. And weirdly enough I just went to football with my friends, and I wrapped it up in the thing, and I was like, ‘Yeah mum, do you want to see it?’ My mum was like, ‘Oh my god,’ and taking pictures with it. I think that’s probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever seen, my mum getting to hold it and my family taking pictures with it. It meant a lot.”

That Moment When: Life Stories From Way Back Then is out tomorrow, Thursday 2nd September.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here