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Mo Gilligan on ‘disheartening’ racist comments as he calls out ‘disgusting’ abuse of England football team

Sixty Seconds Mo Gilligan
Mo’s back with another series of The Lateish Show (Picture: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images)

Comedian Mo Gilligan, 33 on the new series of The Lateish Show, telling his life story and his experience of racist trolls.

Your comedy series, The Lateish Show, was a big hit and won a Bafta. What was the secret?

I’ve always wanted to create a show that had a bit of escapism and I think a lot of people enjoyed that on a Friday night at 10pm.

I wanted it to set you up for the weekend, doing games people can watch and then replicate at home.

Who impressed you on the Nursery Grimes nursery rhymes segment?

A lot of celebrities aren’t sure about doing it but the minute you take it too seriously, you overthink it.

I tell them, just throw yourself at it and I’ll be your hype, man. Harry Redknapp was wicked, Joe Lycett did I’m A Little Teapot amazingly. Jessie J was on the first episode and was great — and watch out for Lily Allen in the new series!

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 18: Lily Allen attends 'No Sudden Move' during 2021 Tribeca Festival at The Battery on June 18, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)
Lily Allen will be spitting bars for Nursery Grimes (Picture: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

Who is your dream line-up?

As a teen who watched WWE, Dwayne Johnson would be the perfect booking. Also Adele and Grace Jones. That would be a mad line-up.

You’ve hung out with some seriously famous people. Who has left you starstruck?

Wayne Rooney at Soccer Aid told us how, after he scored his first goal against Arsenal, he went back to his estate and kicked a ball around.

I remember going to a fashion charity fundraiser organised by Naomi Campbell and on the way out of the toilet I bumped into Pierce Brosnan.

That was hard to style out — I wanted to say something but I guess he needed a wee so I didn’t want to interrupt.

US-Irish actor Pierce Brosnan arrives for the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards on January 5, 2020, at The Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
Mo was starstruck by Pierce Brosnon after meeting him in the loos (Picture: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

How has the past year been?

I’ve kept busy doing stuff on TV and YouTube or social media, learning to edit and use green screen, getting into photography a bit.

You didn’t know when it would end so once I’d made my banana bread, it was about staying creative.

How have you been enjoying live performance again?

Oh man, we’re just happy to be back on stage. Even with a work-in-progress show, people aren’t bothered if it’s that funny, they’re just glad to be out of the house.

You’re hosting a revived Big Breakfast as part of C4’s Black To Front in September.

Yeah, people are excited about it but I can’t say much yet. There’s an audience that grew up with it and a younger audience who aren’t familiar with it, so it’ll be fun. I’ve never done breakfast TV so it’s a recipe for anarchy.

If it took off, would you be up for regular early mornings?

Definitely. I’ve got a dog so lie-ins are few and far between for me anyway.

And you’ve got a book coming out, That Moment When…

Yes, I’m looking forward to that coming out. It’s not a biography, more a selection of stories from my journey. I’m really proud of it.

I had to sign 5,000 copies and only got it done last week. I thought I’d finished then realised there were another nine boxes…

Did it feel like a natural progression, going from storytelling on stage to on the page?

It’s hard because you have to tap into yourself, whereas for stand-up you want to be funny above all else.

A general view of the mural at Trafford Park.
Mo says the ‘disgusting’ racism experienced by Saka, Sancho and Rashford after the Euros is disheartening (Picture: Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images)

I wanted the book to read like the audiobook would sound because I’m dyslexic so I wanted to make sure they give you the same thing.

A lot of my story has been packaged in a way that made it all sound quite simple: you made some videos, did some stand-up, went viral and got a TV show! Well, that’s not really it.

I can fill in the gaps in the book and books last forever — no one throws books in the bin, they get passed on.

How excited are you to play the O2?

Yeah! I’ve seen so many great performers there so it’s cool to put on a show. But if I’m playing the O2, I want to do it with other comics who have inspired me or come up with me.

It’s important to share the spotlight, which is why we’re doing it as the Black British Takeover.

How have you felt about what’s happened with the England football team?

I was proud of them. A lot of those boys come from my kind of community, they’re local lads, so seeing them step up and take a penalty was great. The backlash was disgusting but not surprising.

I’ve experienced racism, with people saying I only got my TV show to tick a box. Honestly, if we can put drones on Mars, we can prosecute people who think they can say what they like on social media when it’s harmful to others.

It’s disheartening. A young generation will have watched them but might wonder if playing for your country is something they really want, given the reaction.

The Lateish Show With Mo Gilligan begins tomorrow at 10pm on C4. Mo Gilligan And Friends: The Black British Takeover is at the O2 Arena on December 8. That Moment When is out on September 2

MORE : Ashley Banjo to explore Black British history in powerful ITV documentary after historic Ofcom complaints

MORE : Motherland and I May Destroy You star Pearl Chanda upset by Holby City axing

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