Last updated at 3:11 PM on 13th December 2011
He’s been interviewing stars for the past 40 years, with numerous appearances on shows including Panorama and Newsnight under his belt.
So it comes as little surprise that John Stapleton was slightly perplexed when he was faced with the prospect of interviewing the stars of The Only Way Is Essex on Daybreak today.
And the 65-year-old anchor certainly didn’t pull any punches when it came to quizzing the reality stars, admitting he had only watched the programme for the first time over the weekend in preparation for the interview.
Giving them a grilling: John Stapleton pulled no punches when he interviewed the TOWIE cast on Daybreak today
Stapleton then proceeded to ask the stars – Lauren Goodger, Jessica Wright, James ‘Arg’ Argent, Lydia Bright and Harry Derbidge – how much of the programme was set up.
But Stapleton’s forceful questioning technique and frequent interruptions led to a very awkward interview to watch.
He began the interview by telling the stars: ‘I have to confess, I had never seen your programme until this weekend when someone very kindly gave me your boxsets.
Aren’t you embarrassed? Stapleton admitted he was ‘intrigued’ by the ITV2 programme, but said he believed parts of it were acted
Good spirits: The cast all managed to hold their own in the line of fire, but Harry Derbidge remained resolutely silent
‘But I am intrigued, I am genuinely intrigued. I have never seen
anything like this before. Is this truly a reflection of your views, and
your attitudes and your lifestyles or is it, in the best interests of
entertainment, is it massaged?’
Lauren replied: ‘No it is, it is our real lives. Obviously it is a bit exaggerated and some scenes are set up but nothing’s scripted. It’s just like we’ll all go to a party, and we’ll know that we are going, and then certain situations happen bu it’s all real.’
Stapleton then asked Arg: ‘One of the things that stuck me about it, Arg, is that most of you are very well off. You drive around in Mercedes cars, every time I see you in a nightclub there’s a bottle of champagne there, now that may have been laid on by producers, but you are well off people already?’
Belting it out: The cast also performed their charity Christmas single Last Christmas on the programme
Having a ball: Nanny Pat, who has one line in the song, appeared to be enjoying herself with the performance
However, Arg contended: ‘I think a few of the cast are well off already. I mean, obviously Kirk owns his own nightclub called Sugar Hut and a few of the girls are from wealthy families.
‘Me myself, I’m not one of the most well off out of the cast and all the champagne I drink is probably because Mark brought it for me!’
Stapleton then asked: ‘You all live in roughly the same area in Essex, what do people say to
you because a lot of people would watch that in stunned disbelief,
because they couldn’t believe that people were behaving that way, were
talking that way, were being so revelatory about their personal lives –
what do people say to you when they see you in the streets?’
Pretty in orange: Lydia Bright looked cute in an orange pleated dress as she left the television studios
Jessica replied: ‘At first people were shocked and no-one would admit that they watched it
and it was almost like it was a bad thing if you watched it but now
it’s completely the other way around – everyone is so complimentary about
it, we have such an amazing following.’
Continuing in the same vein of questioning, Stapleton pushed: ‘Have you ever been embarrassed by it?’
Jessica, who managed to remain calm in the line of fire, said: ‘At the beginning, the first episode, we were all a bit shocked. We weren’t sure how it was going to come across and how it was going to be perceived, so for us it was our lives on television so it was hard.
Glamorous: Chloe Sims, Lauren Pope and Harry Derbidge were all photographed leaving the studios after the awkward interview
‘But since then it’s grown into such a phenomenon and everyone loves it and it’s funny.’
At the end of the interview, Stapleton’s Daybreak co-host Kate Garraway praised the TOWIE cast for managing to keep their cool.
She said: ‘Can I just say well done to all of you. I’ve sat next to John Stapleton
when he’s taken prime ministers apart and I think he gave you a pretty
good going over but you were marvellous.‘
When Garraway said to Stapleton that the reality stars had managed to cope with his forceful interviewing, he conceded: ‘They can answer my questions very adequately, very eloquently.’