Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan are taking on more challenges for their Sky series. This time they're having a go at ballet, basketball and cricket. However, along the way they also had a colonic irrigation, as they explain...
This is your second trip together, how did it compare to last series this time round?
Rob: How did it compare Romesh?
Romesh: It was easier because I now know what Rob's like to travel with. There was always that unknown on the first series, but now Rob's more of a known entity. I mean it still surprised me. There are still new quirks and new levels of energy that you thought even he would be squashed down by, but he doesn't seem to be, so that's always a surprise, but you know, it was fun.
We were excited about doing the first series, but it was new. This one was different because we had so much fun on the last series, we knew what to expect; it's just a proper laugh, you can't believe it's a job really.
Rob: It was weird though because we didn't know much about the activities this series, whereas boxing and DJing we were passionate about in Series 1. Basketball for example, I was completely new to, but I loved it, it was amazing.
From your experience of last series, what did you do differently this series when approaching going away together?
Rob: Separate flights, which was something you insisted on, wasn't it Romesh?
Romesh: We did what sorry?
Rob: We had separate flights.
Romesh: Listen, I didn't request that but what I will say is that I was delighted when it happened! Rob on a flight - he's great, he's a lovely guy, but one of Rob's favourite things to do is, when we're together on a flight, whenever I say anything, he'll say to the staff on the flight "oh sorry about him". He just makes it look like I'm being a prick regardless, even if I'm just asking for something reasonable like "is it possible to just get a diet coke or something?" "Sorry about him", "he's a bit impolite mate" - he's awful!
Rob: Whatever he's said, even if he's being really nice, I just react to it and I say "sorry about him he's had a busy day. He's a bit stressed. He's not normally like this. Sorry."
Romesh: And the other thing he'll do is, he'll keep checking in on you to see if you're going through the exact same emotions that he's going through. Every now and then he'll walk past, and he'll say "you feeling a bit sad?" "Are you feeling so hungry that it's making you nervous?" "Are you feeling tired, but you're frightened to go to sleep in case you're tired when you get there?" It's just constant updates!
Rob: People underestimate flying - it's eight to ten hours over the Atlantic - we're in it together, it's a crossing, we're a team, we're a double act.
Romesh: We're not a double act, but okay.
Why do you think you both work so well together? Do you think your contrasting styles complement each other?
Romesh: Yeah, I guess so. I hope so. Otherwise it's going to be a f***ing disaster this show.
Rob: I think we're just great mates! You can't write down why you like something, can you? And when Romesh comes into a room it makes me happy. And when I go into a room that he's in, it doesn't make him unhappy.
Romesh: I would say this, I do think we complement each other as people. Rob's attitude towards things is often what I need to counteract how I'm feeling about something and vice versa. So sometimes I can be a bit too negative about stuff and Rob gives me a pep talk and I think Rob is positive, despite the complete lack of evidence that there's any reason to be positive at all.
I can often provide him with some much-needed realism. It's stood us in good stead for when we've been away on holiday together with our families and stuff like that and it's always worked as a friendship so hopefully it works as a TV prospect. I'll leave it up to the TV viewers to decide that.
Rob: No, it will Romesh, it will be great. And if they don't like it, they're wrong. Put that in!
Which was your favourite topic to delve into this series?
Rob: Basketball I think for me, because I came away with a new hobby, something I now love to watch. I loved doing all of it, I cracked up in every episode, but I think Basketball mostly because we got to go and learn this new passion that we've both discovered. We're going to go to America and watch a game aren't we Romesh, when it starts up?
Rob: You've sort of semi-agreed to that.
Romesh: Yeah, but separate flights! With the Basketball, I think I'd got to a point in life where I'm into whatever I'm into now, you know I'm not going add anything else - and then, Basketball, I think it was, weirdly, in a way, kind of life changing. Not in a deep way but in terms of like, I'm obsessed with basketball now, I've got all the subscriptions, follow all of the games, I've set up my own NBA Basketball group and it's something we really got in to.
Having said all that, the experiences we had in ballet, getting to work with the Birmingham Royal Ballet and with the cricket team, the time that we had with the team and getting involved with the 'Barmy Army,' they're such amazing experiences, that actually, we did feel lucky the whole way through.
Rob: It's such a dream, that's why we try and humiliate ourselves with the colonic irrigation because otherwise I'd hate watching it, just looking at two people having the time of their lives. But it's so unpredictable, you know one of them is going to have a tube up his arse in ten minutes.
Romesh: The producers basically said "look, you've had a great time, I need to see a mushroom coming out of you".
Rob: That was my fault though Romesh! When I had a meeting I said, "we need to make sure that we are doing stuff that other people wouldn't want to do because otherwise it looks like a holiday, doesn't it?" And yeah okay, we did go to LA to watch basketball, which is a dream, however, you can do that, but you've got to have a tube up your arse and be pumped full of water. Most people would say "no I'll just save up." So, it makes it a bit more palatable I think.
Romesh: In terms of actual editorial connection - tenuous at best - but you know - we balanced out.
Rob: There was no reason for that to happen.
Romesh: Absolutely no justification for that to happen apart from our humiliation and setting fire to our own dignity.
Rob: Dignity is overrated! Where has dignity ever got anyone?
Romesh: That's like your fucking catchphrase, that one.
Rob: But what do you need dignity for?
Romesh: Erm, to tell you not to have a colonic irrigation on television I guess.
Rob: Why not? Why can't you do that, who cares?
Romesh: Listen, I'm glad people find it funny but do you know how hard we work on our acts and material trying to craft stuff, and then all you've got to do is stick a tube up your arse and a mushroom comes out...
Rob: Because it's us doing it Romesh. You could shove a tube up any old Grand Joe's arse and a mushroom could come out, but people wouldn't be as interested!
Romesh: I get ya. We've made it art.
Rob: We've made it art by sacrificing dignity.
Romesh: Yeah, you've totally changed your attitude to that Rob...
What was your toughest/worst moment this series?
Romesh: The mushroom by a long stretch. Let me tell you something, none of that was put on for the cameras, if anything I was trying to tone it down for my embarrassment sake.
Rob: I didn't like it, but YOU!
Romesh: I zoned out. It was so awful. But genuinely, the production team sat down with me and had a chat with me afterwards to sort of see if I was alright. It was so horrific. Awful.
Rob: They say afterwards you've got to sit down on the toilet for a bit and I was just sitting there thinking "I don't know why nothing is happening, this is pointless". And I went to get up and they said "no wait a bit longer" and I said "why I feel fine," I thought everything that was going to come out had come out, right...but then out of nowhere, the fucking heavens opened. It was like somebody was emptying a bath out of me.
Romesh: Listen, I love Rob to bits but he is not the guy I want outside the toilet door when you cannot stop shitting water. He is absolutely one of the last people on the planet I'd want...
Rob: I try and use positivity to get me out of a hole but no amount of positivity can get you through that kind of leakage. It's hard, then move on.
Romesh: Yeah. Awful. Absolutely dreadful.
Rob: You really hated it. I didn't like it, I found it quite uncomfortable to do and there were repercussions down the line with elasticity - let's say that. What I felt was totally overshadowed with what kind of dark hell Romesh was going through. I've never seen him like that. He completely zoned out. Then he just sat there. And he couldn't take it, he couldn't take all of it and we were like "Romesh, Romesh, just stop" and he kept going "one more time" like some sort of old boxer.
Romesh: Yeah! It was horrendous.
What have you been doing since everybody has been asked to stay at home?
Rob: Well we tried to have a podcast but we've got to wait haven't we Romesh?
Romesh: Yes, we kept on having to set up doing this remotely and then we just realised "oh this is crap" but it took us a long time to arrive at that conclusion. But we've done two full podcast episodes, they'll never see the light of day - we've put all the work in, and they're not coming out [laughs].
Rob: Well they are all ready and raring to go! Once we get back in Romesh, keep positive! Don't you worry about that.
Romesh: You've been doing a lot of Lego, haven't you?
Rob: I love to Lego. I've done a full roller coaster, I've done a wind turbine, I've got a ghost buster set and a castle!
Romesh: Did you find all this stuff for lock-down or did you have it anyway?
Rob: No. So basically I love Lego and I like those collector bits from Ghostbusters... And they're all birthday presents from the last four years. My wife has bought me a set, but I've not had time to do them. I've just done them all in one go, it's quite enjoyable. I find it quite meditative - quite relaxing. I'm quiet when I do it.
Romesh: Ah that sounds lovely. Maybe we should do a Lego exercise!
When you were told you'd be going into the world of ballet, what were your initial thoughts?
Rob: Personally, I didn't think I was going to be a fan. It's very long. That's what I was worried about - the length.
Romesh: I just thought "I've got absolutely no interest in this" and also, my impressions of ballet were that it's for posh people and they don't even want us. It feels very exclusive to me. I'm not saying you go to it with a chip on your shoulder, it's not that at all. But you do go in thinking "this was never meant for me". But the truth is, it's much more inclusive than we thought it was going to be and the people in it, they're not trying to be exclusive...
Rob: AHH! A pigeon's flown into my house!
Romesh: You serious?
Rob: It's just hit about 5 windows that pigeon was back in again!
Romesh: Again? That tells me so much about your life.
Rob: Shall I tell you what happened? We gave the kids bird feed to put at the end of the garden. They scattered it across the entire garden. My garden looked like the woman out of the Home Alone film. Pigeon shit everywhere, pigeons all over the gaff, and now they just think it's feeding time so they can go into my back door and like, any bits of bread the kids have got - start eating it - so I went in to scare it off and it just panicked and hit the window - so that'll learn it anyway. Sorry - ballet!
Romesh: What a fuckin' life you lead Beckett.
Rob: Should have stored that for Instagram!
Romesh - it turned out that Rob was quite good at ballet, how was it having Rob realising he might be better than you?
Romesh: It's horrendous because you suddenly realise that not only are you going to have to go through that experience but you're going to have to go through that with a cocky Rob Beckett. After that training session, the swagger on this prick! Absolutely insane!
Rob: Do you know what? I've always thought I've got the right body type for ballet, but I wasn't born in the right family. I'm a bit like a Billy Elliot type...
Romesh: The worst thing is, he's not even rude about it, what he is, is patronising, to have somebody talk to you like they've mastered it, he's just going to me "go on, go on, you can do it Rom!" I'll accept that from the Grand Master or whatever he's called but I'm not having it from somebody that got to grips with it 45 seconds before I did.
Rob: I was just trying to help you along Rom!
Romesh: It was horrible. Absolutely horrible. He was trying to be encouraging but he's the opposite.
Rob: The ice bath was the worst bit - but it does give you an appreciation of athletes though. It was like something from alien.
Romesh: I just don't know... the idea... doing it one time is awful. The idea that people do it regularly knowing it feels like that, I just can't believe it.
What did you think of the costumes you were provided with?
Rob: The beard was so itchy! I had trouble getting in the outfit, they're so tight! I think that was more my problem than theirs.
Romesh: It's just every insecurity you might have had about yourself, that costume is designed to bring it out. You remember every thought you might have had, you remember every single donut, it is just absolutely horrific and even when you've got the heavy coat on and stuff over the top - which I think they gave us for the safety of any audience members, underneath you can feel the costume which is sort of communicating to you that it shouldn't be in it. It's horrific.
Rob: The worst part was taking it off! You could see exactly what you'd worn on what bit of your body. Like an imprint.
Romesh: You basically have an invisible ballet costume on, imprinted onto your body for about a day or two afterwards. The other thing was I don't have a great arse compared to normal humans but male ballet dancers, their arses are just breath-taking - wholly breath-taking.
Rob: You know on Bake Off when Prue Leith shows you how to do a victoria sponge? So f***ing bulbous and fluffy and big? Incredible. You know like that? A big bastard on the lower back.
Romesh: Yeah. And they look so muscular, I'm convinced they could write their names with them. They could write a memoir with their bums.
Rob: If I was starving on a desert island enough to eat a human, I'd eat the arse of a ballet dancer. Is that a bit much?
Romesh: No, I think that's absolutely the thing you'd say about ballet.
Rob: If I had to eat a human, it would be the arse of a ballet dancer.
Romesh: I think you should put that as the tag line.
Rob - were you genuinely annoyed that they reduced your parts?
Romesh: I was fucking delighted! I was absolutely delighted.
Rob: Well I was, and I wasn't. I mean, you do all that training. You'd think you'd get a bit more.
Romesh: Let me tell you something, Rob not only thought he could do a bit more, Rob believed he should have been doing a bit more. Rob genuinely, he thought he was good at it. Properly good at it.
Rob: If you don't believe in yourself, why should anybody else?
Romesh: I know that's true to a point, but that's when you see people, you know when they go on X Factor and nobody's told them that they're shit and they make idiots of themselves. I'm the person who is doing the right thing by telling you.
Rob: You're like Simon Cowell...
Romesh: Essentially. But actually, because Rob was being so cocky, saying "it's going to be great, I'm going to be doing this and don't feel bad if they give you a smaller part" - well they gave us the same size part and it was absolutely fuck all, so enjoy that!
Moving on to Episode 2, basketball. You took a little while to score a basket in the one-on-one - who do you think is actually better at basketball?
Rob: Well, I mean, there's no-one better at it. We're both terrible at it - aren't we!
Romesh: That is true.
Rob: There's no comparison, even if one of us was better, you wouldn't be able to gauge it. Awful!
Romesh: No. And I was glad about that, because Rob is one of these people who when we come to do these challenges, it's very much "we're in this together" - until he has a sniff that he might be better than you at it, and then he's just an absolute competitive monster.
Rob: HAHAHA! Romesh:
You know he's all very collegiate, and yeah "oh don't worry, I'm as bad as you are" and then as soon as he shows any sort of natural ability the eyes change and it's like "fuckin av it!" "oh, what's that you're struggling there a bit aren't ya mate!" - he's an absolute stone-cold bastard it's unbelievable.
Rob: But luckily we're both awful at Basketball!
Romesh: It was bad, really bad.
Rob - you didn't get a basketball nickname, what would you like to christen your own 'street name' here?
Rob: Erm, I'd say "White Chocolate".
Romesh: Jesus Christ!
Rob: Is "White Chocolate" too much?"
Romesh: Nah. It's not too much I like it, it's good it's good.
Rob: What about you?
Romesh: I don't... I guess Brown Chocolate? I dunno.
Rob: Just "chocolate" because it's racist that I have to say chocolates 'white' and you have to say chocolates 'brown'. It's a bit racist actually Romesh, because there's different colours. It should actually just be chocolate.
Romesh: Hahaha, I'm so sorry!
Rob: You shouldn't have to label it as...
Romesh: I'm so sorry...excuse my...
How long were you in LA for and did you get a chance to check out the comedy scene at all? Performing yourself or seeing any local comedians?
Rob: We went to the shops one day, when we had a morning free. Because of the time zone, we'd always wake up too early. We'd always get up about 6am.
Romesh: It's horrible waking up and thinking "oh there we go, my day has started and it's the middle of the night, let's crack on", it's horrible.
Rob: I got that little electric scooter out, didn't I? They have those little electric scooters in LA, and I've gigged in LA before. And one of the things I'd say about all comedians in LA is they are all working towards being in a film. In Britain you've got comedians that are just comedians but in LA you don't really have that. They're working on a script or they're trying to get a part in some film. It is how you imagine, this sort of ambition to become famous that LA is the place where you go to become famous so all these comics are trying to get in the movies so it's a bit of a different culture I think.
You didn't manage to get a picture with Neymar in the episode, did you manage to get any closer for a snap once the cameras were off?
Romesh: No, but I've got to tell you, that was one of the highlights of the entire series for me. Watching Rob get it... oh! It was so, so good. If you'd have told me, "You've got to get colonic irrigation, but you get to see Rob absolutely mugged off," I'd have taken that.
Rob: I was just over-confident because we'd been dancing with that geezer...
Romesh: You got so cocky! You thought it was an absolute dead cert. "Oh yeah I'll just wander up to him" and then he just got mugged off!
Rob: Well you hear about these people who bunk into stuff and get through and act like they belong there...and I did...
Romesh: Yeah you did, you committed to it...
Rob: I'm just not that good at acting! Oh, that was horrible, really horrible. And if I'd played that slightly differently, I'm sure it would have been fine. But I went in too confident, that's my problem.
You visited South Africa to follow the cricket. How did you find that? Had you been before?
Romesh: We've both been before.
Rob: I've never been on holiday there but it's such a beautiful place, I love it out there, it's wonderful isn't it.
Romesh: I think Cape Town is amazing and I'd never have thought of going somewhere like that on a holiday but I certainly would after that, it was great. What a place. It was amazing. Also, that ground, to watch cricket with the mountain in the background is beautiful, absolutely beautiful.
Rob: It's one of the best stadiums I've ever been to - not the stadium itself but to be near a beautiful mountain.
Romesh: Yeah, you wouldn't say the seats were amazing would you? There's nothing about the facilities that are amazing.
Rob: Let's just say I wouldn't want to look at the stadium from the mountain.
Romesh: If the mountain wasn't there, we wouldn't be talking to you about it in this interview.
Rob: They're lucky they built it there to be honest.
Romesh: It's so convenient.
It looked like Kevin Pietersen worked you quite hard. How was he to practice with?
Rob: That was right scary. He's a bigger boy, isn't he? He's like the epitome of a big, strong boy. About six foot six, massive geezer, very charming, but just absolute bastard to deal with a bat and a ball.
Romesh: I think because he's grown up with cricket and it's in his blood the idea that he's got two adults you know, two people that have got no sort of ability whatsoever, I think he found that offensive. And he sort of took on this demonic coach persona. It was a torrid afternoon.
Rob: HAHAHA! It really was! And the ball's so hard.
Romesh: It's ridiculous. In the future if we forgot about cricket, you'd easily believe me if I told you that was a weapon. A cannonball. Because it is so painful when it makes any sort of contact with you. I can't believe they have that in a sport. It's ridiculous.
Rob: I'd rather catch a knife.
Kevin seemed to take a shine to Rob over you Romesh, why do you think that is?
Rob: Well Kevin can smell talent and hard work and dedication and as it turned out I'm a natural batsman, I'm just not good at fielding, so that's why we got on, and he liked my positive outlook.
Romesh: You were shit at catching though Rob, weren't you?
Rob: Yes, I know I was shit at catching but...
Romesh: He wasn't... I know you think you were great at batting but you got to remember you were terrible at bowling. It was very difficult for me to play what you were delivering because it was so awful. It wasn't coming anywhere near me. So then the old beast mode came out again, where he thinks he's got some sort of ability in it, and he starts getting all cocky and all this "alright have that, have that". He starts waving to the crowd and that's why it was so delightful to go out and watch him cowering when the cricket ball was in the air.
Rob: My head went with that. All I could think was, "run away, run away, you don't need that, you don't need that ball. That ball means nothing." I haven't seen the edit though yet.
Was it nerve-racking doing the challenge in front of the barmy army?
Rob: Oh yeah, they were singing "you're just a shit James Corden" at me.
Romesh: ... which I can't imagine James Corden's happy about.
Rob: Somehow, it's even more offensive to him! But yeah that was hard. To be fair they are a good bunch and they're a good laugh, but they were cheering when we did well...so they weren't all bad.
Romesh: I would say that it was worse afterwards than during because we kept bumping into barmy army in South Africa and we just got abuse everywhere we went.
Rob: Yeah, in the airport on the way home. "Hey look I've got a video of you not catching that ball!"
Romesh: So in that way, we were getting heckled, you'd be out having lunch and you'd get heckled from somebody that saw us doing the challenge, that was not fun.
How was the safari, Rob you looked like you loved it?
Rob: Loved it! What an experience. Can't wait to go properly and go with my family, it was amazing! It's an incredible thing, safari. I loved it too much if anything.
Romesh: It was amazing, it was great.
Rob: We got to go out into the bush and get a real green fingered experience of safari.
Romesh: They do make it terrifying; do you know what I mean? The first things they're telling you can go wrong; you're shitting yourself by the time you get out there. They're all very passionate about the animals but the truth of it is, it is amazing being on safari, if you're really into animals like those rangers are, they've got an appetite for watching them for ages whereas we're a bit like "Okay, I think he's done everything he's going to do, that giraffe," whereas they're like "no, let's observe for 45 minutes" and you're like "okay, we're just ticking it off in this f***ing book here, let's go."
Rob: It's like once you've seen the six different types of antelope. They're deer with horns. I don't want to see another one.
Romesh: Unless one of them is going to do a trick, let's drive on shall we?
Rob: Yeah. I want to see a lion eating something.