CARMARTHEN born comedian, television and radio presenter RHOD GILBERT talks to the Journal's Rob Harries about his new role on The Apprentice's sister show You're Fired, what happened to Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and when we can expect to see him on stage again. . .
"I don't see myself as a television presenter. I still think of it as a side project."
Rhod Gilbert insists that he is still very much a stand-up comedian, despite not performing on stage in anger (literally in his case) for four years.
In that time he has presented the award-winning Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and UK's Best Part-Time Band, all on the BBC.
Last week he was given a new job that arguably trumps them all — fronting BBC Two's You're Fired, the sister programme of one of the broadcaster's flagship shows, The Apprentice.
Carmarthen's Rhod Gilbert is looking forward to his new role as host of BBC Two's You're Fired
"I'm very excited by it," said Rhod, who sometimes hosts his Radio Wales weekend show from the BBC studio in Priory Street.
"I've watched The Apprentice every single year since it started and it's one of the only television shows that I regularly watch, believe it or not.
"When I got the call to ask if I was interested, I was delighted and jumped at the chance to speak to the people behind it.
"They thought I would be a good fit for the style of programme that You're Fired is – slightly mocking the guests but hopefully in a warm way that isn't too scathing;
"I just want it to be a good laugh where people can tune in after The Apprentice and get some more insight into what went on in that week's episode.
"I haven't met Sir Alan Sugar before and they told me that I should expect a call from him any time now, so I've been avoiding calls on my phone for the last few days because I'm quite nervous about meeting him!"
Rhod will take over the hosting duties on You're Fired from Jack Dee, and will follow in the footsteps of previous hosts Dara O'Briain and Adrian Chiles.
"There's a huge difference in styles between Dara and Jack and they were both great in different ways, so there's no point trying to be too similar to anyone who's done it in the past," added Rhod.
"I just need to do my own thing and hopefully people will enjoy it."
Last week's announcement comes almost 18 months after the BBC announced that it was pulling the plug on music panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks after 28 series, the last of which was presented by Rhod.
Rhod presented the last series of Nevermind The Buzzcocks alongside team captains Phil Jupitus and Noel Fielding
Despite having an average weekly audience of more than one million people, the Welshman was not given the opportunity to continue in a role that he came to love. So, did Rhod take it all in his stride, or did he feel like he was being thrown under a Buzzcocks bus?
"I was naturally disappointed because I thought it was a good show and I absolutely loved doing it," he admitted.
"It was just like going to a party for two hours every week and hanging out with other comedians. It was so much fun and I know Noel (Fielding) and Phill (Jupitus) were gutted as well.
"But I wasn't worried about it in terms of 'will I get another big telly job?' because that's just the way things go in television.
"I've been doing it long enough now to realise that things can change quickly and you just have to get on with it. Someone new came in and had different ideas, and that was that.
"Even back then I had plenty of other irons in the fire so there was no point dwelling on it."
For fans of Rhod's stand up, all this television work is all very well, but what about that much mooted return to the stage? It would seem there is a call for it, with one particular version of his "luggage routine" receiving millions of hits on You Tube, and another version of the same act titled as "Funniest stand-up comedy sketch ever". Yet the comedian, 48 next month, appears to be in no hurry.
"I fully intend to do stand-up again, but I don't know when, to be honest," admitted Rhod, whose last arena tour saw him emblazon his own skin with tattoos of a flaming Battenberg and a potato ("I had to have something done, so why not?").
"I have actually sat down for the first time in ages this year and written some stand-up material, but I've just been busy doing other stuff. Contrary to what some people would think, doing stand-up is much easier than doing television.
"Stand-up is just you, stood there, talking to people, and you have one job to do – making people laugh, that's it. In television there's a hundred different things to worry about – cameras, lights, guests, bringing others into play; there's just more things that can go wrong."
The apprehension of returning to a profession after years on the sidelines does not concern Rhod in the slightest – "I'd get on stage tonight if I had time to write the material!"
But it does throw up an interesting insight into the mind of a respected and famous comedian, as we discuss how far a reputation and an accumulation of kudos would take one with regards to not only ticket sales and buzz, but also when it comes to the level of acceptance and patience one could glean from a baying comedy crowd.
"In The Comedy Store in London, you have all these young, up-and-coming comedians who aren't known generally to people outside the comedy circuit, but now and again someone will turn up there completely out of the blue, unannounced.
Rhod filming in King Street, Carmarthen during his visit to the Journal as part of his Work Experience show
"It's the kind of place you would go if you were trying out something new before a big tour, and now and again, you can be sat in the audience there and they'll announce 'please welcome on to the stage … Chris Rock, or Michael McIntyre', and the whole place goes insane. People are totally beside themselves that these people are going to perform in front of them.
"But, and this is the thing that always hits me, even that level of fame and people at that level aren't immune from judgement from the crowd. An unknown comedian might get five seconds to get someone on side, but the biggest names out there won't get much longer either. There is a small grace period if people have seen you before and know who you are, but that will soon dissipate if you're not on your game.
"That's why, if and when I go back on stage, it has to be 100 per cent right."
The Apprentice returns to BBC One next month, and You're Fired will follow each episode on BBC Two.