If The Traitors had you gripped ITV’s new game show will have you hooked

If The Traitors had you gripped ITV’s new game show will have you hooked

Stephen Mangan tells us to expect sun, fun and treachery in The Fortune Hotel (Credits: ITV)

When Stephen Mangan was offered a month of sunshine filming last winter, there was no hesitation. ‘They didn’t have to finish the sentence,’ he says.
‘A month in the Caribbean in November? Are you kidding me?

‘I was a little baffled why they chose me as there’s a group of people who tend to host these shows and I’m definitely not on that list.’

In due course, Stephen jetted to the island of Grenada to host the channel’s answer to The Traitors, a treacherous new game show where ten couples try to outwit each other at The Fortune Hotel and walk off into the sunset with a suitcase packed with a cool £250,000.

‘They’ve tried something a little different and I’m glad they did because
I had a ball,’ says Stephen.

Contestants include cheery landscaper and bricklayer best mates Michael and Adam from Bognor Regis, playing-it-cool married couple criminal lawyer and commercial manager Dan and Claire from Gloucestershire, two larger-than-life Mancunian BFFs and business partners in the beauty industry Louie and Chloe, cagey best friends Susan and Jen who work in admin for the Scottish government and as a criminal investigator but who are lying about their professions to their rivals, and Abbie, an outspoken 18-year-old drama student from the Welsh valleys, and her mum, Tracey.

‘At one point Abbie bans her mother from speaking because she thinks her mother is going to ruin it,’ says Stephen. ‘You get to see them all in their hotel rooms concocting schemes and having a go at each other.’

As with The Traitors, there are physical and mental challenges every day. Winning those gives you the best chance of influencing the evening showdown, which takes place in The Night Cap cocktail bar. There the couples have a final chance 
to swap cases – sometimes knowing, sometimes guessing where the money is – before the person who opens the case with the Early Checkout card has to leave.

Like the rest of the nation, Stephen was gripped by the devious double-crosses on The Traitors – so what does he think will capture viewers’ imagination with The Fortune Hotel?

‘First of all, we are in the sunny Caribbean. We’re not in a gloomy Scottish castle. That brings a whole different feeling to it. It just feels lighter and funnier. It’s a game of bluff, intrigue, forming alliances, all that good stuff, and it gets more and more gripping as the series goes on.

‘But what I love about this show is that it’s not just an hour of tension and drama. It’s funny and it’s fascinating how people behave. They ask each other blunt questions. Some people can’t lie and some are scarily good at it.’

With £250,000 at stake and temperatures rising, it isn’t long before there are some major fallouts between the competing couples and within their own pairings. How did Stephen cope with that?

‘I don’t like conflict. But when the tension goes up in this show, it’s all about that. I look quite anguished at times and I’m heartbroken when people get knocked out. I can’t do the Anne Robinson, “You are the weakest link. Goodbye” with that stony-faced demeanour. I really feel it all.’

Stephen got a feel for the game himself in the less than sunny location of Acton, London (Picture: ITV)

In the early stages of creating the show, Stephen got to play the game himself ‘in an office in Acton’ to see how it would work. If he 
had to play it for real, though, he says he wouldn’t choose his wife, the former Holby City actress Louise Delamere, or sister Anita, who illustrates his children’s 
books and appears with him on Celebrity Gogglebox.

‘I think I’d be quite good at 
the game part of it, but the psychological side is the tricky bit. You’ve got to work out what other people’s weaknesses are and present yourself in a way that’s either non-threatening or so threatening that people are frightened of you.

‘I would need someone who is really smart at all that kind of stuff. I think Danny Dyer would be good. Me and Danny Dyer would be the team that would take on all-comers.’

From Granada to Rio de Janeiro here’s what Stephen Mangan thinks of travelling

Where has been your best and worst accommodation abroad?

‘There is an amazing hotel in Cape Town that I stayed in when I was doing an Estonian chewing gum advert. The worst was when I was touring with a play in Greece. There were two rats that kept appearing in my room every night. I didn’t sleep for the whole week.’

What are your travel essentials?

‘I travel with a pillow now. Hotel pillows just don’t do it for me. Most of my luggage is pillows. Very soft ones. Those ones that are like an inflatable raft, I can’t be having that.’

Where is the strangest place you’ve been recognised?

‘The most exotic location was in Rio de Janeiro. I was on Ipanema beach. Someone cycled past shouting, ‘Dan! Dan!’ [From his cameo on I’m Alan Partridge]. I’m in South America and I’m still getting it!’

The Fortune Hotel is broadcast Mon to Thu at 9pm on ITV1 and ITVX from May 13


MORE : ITV’s rival of The Traitors is just days away – let’s meet the players


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