Joel Dommett: The hardest part of hosting NTAs is finding right line with script

Joel Dommett has said making sure his script for the National Television Awards (NTAs) pokes fun while also steering away from controversy is what he finds “hardest” about hosting the show.

The comedian and TV presenter, 38, said he works on the script solidly for a month before the ceremony at The O2 in London, to ensure he pushes his jokes far enough, while being on the “right side” of the line.

It comes as ITV’s This Morning defends its title of best daytime show amid the furore of the Phillip Schofield affair and claims of toxicity and bullying behind the scenes of the show.

Schofield, 61, resigned from ITV in May after admitting to an “unwise but not illegal” relationship with a younger male colleague on the show, while Holly Willoughby, who hosted alongside Schofield from 2009 onwards, has continued to present the programme with a series of co-stars.

When asked if he would use This Morning in material for his NTAs script, Dommett told the PA news agency: “I feel like I’ve never really been that comic to be honest, it’s the job of other comics to do that.

“I think that it is a really important part of comedy, but that’s not really where I fit in and I think it’s also not what the NTAs is necessarily about.

“I think there is a place for lots of poking of fun, but I think making sure we’re on the right side of that line is important and that’s what getting the script to the right place is all about and that’s what I work really hard on for a month or so before to make sure it’s as tight as possible.

“But also making sure that you’re pushing it enough that people enjoy what’s happening, that’s what I find hardest about the NTAs I think, is finding that right line.”

Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais made jokes at the expense of Hollywood stars as host of the 2020 Golden Globes (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Dommett made reference to fellow comedian Ricky Gervais’ 2020 Golden Globes speech, where he made jokes at the expense of some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, saying: “Someone like Ricky for instance, their line is way further than mine would be, mine is right at the start of where that line would be.

“I’m definitely not trying to be controversial in any way.”

Dommett, who is hosting the NTAs for the third time, described it as a “celebratory evening” compared with other awards shows, “where it feels like the people in the audience are going to be taken the mick out of”.

“There’s plenty of jokes in there, but it doesn’t feel like anyone’s going be sat there going ‘Oh my God’ – no-one feels attacked and I think that’s what we try and create, a nice atmosphere,” he said.

The NTAs will see This Morning presenters Alison Hammond and Martin Lewis up for the best TV presenter prize, alongside The Traitors host Claudia Winkleman and The Chase’s Bradley Walsh.

National Television Awards
Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly won best TV presenter for the 21st year in a row at last year’s ceremony (Ian West/PA)

They will compete against Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, who took the award for the 21st year in a row at last year’s ceremony.

Speaking about hosting the ceremony in a room of his peers, Dommett told PA: “It feels sort of daunting, but I try and forget all of the madness.

“The reality of it is you’re performing in front of thousands of people in The O2, millions of people at home, and all of the people that you hugely look up to who potentially would do a much better job than you if they were stood in your shoes.

“There’s a lot of pressure on it, but I try my best to just get rid of all that pressure and enjoy it, try to not let that get in the way and just have fun.”

Dommett also said that he is rooting for the new NTA category, the TV interview prize, which sees Piers Morgan Uncensored on Talk TV nominated, alongside Louis Theroux Interviews…, The Chris & Rosie Ramsey Show and The Graham Norton Show.

“I think they’re all really different, they’re really different sides of life, different types of people enjoy them, on very different channels and I think that really represents what the NTA’s is really all about, it’s about representing everyone,” he said.

Dommett also spoke about his high-profile roster of projects, including hosting ITV’s The Masked Singer, which is nominated for an NTA this year, and presenting the reboot of much-anticipated series Survivor for the BBC, set to air this autumn.

Joel Dommett is hosting the re-boot of Survivor on the BBC (BBC/PA)

He said it would be a “huge thing” for him if Survivor were to be nominated for an NTA next year as it is “bigger than anything I’ve ever been involved in”.

Similarly, as a soon-to-be first-time father with his wife, model Hannah Cooper, Dommett said he feels “very lucky” to be involved in stable projects following his 2016 appearance on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

He told PA: “It takes less pressure off me because it means I can say no to the little projects in between because I’ve got those bigger projects that I know I’m working on, so I can make sure I spend more time at home which, until a year or so ago, I would have felt the pressure to continue to keep my foot on the pedal and keep working in order to get to those big jobs.

“But I feel like I’ve got some nice jobs in the roster now and I can just concentrate for a while to be the best dad I can possibly be and best husband I can, while also hopefully continuing to be a good TV presenter.”

The National Television Awards will be broadcast live on Tuesday September 5 from 8pm on ITV1.