Omid Djalili: Winning Combination host on how ‘epic fail’ on The Chase sparked job offer

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Comedian Omid Djalili, 55, won over the hearts of viewers when he “epically failed” while appearing on the celebrity version of The Chase. Even Bradley Walsh couldn’t believe his ears! But despite his lack of skill on the ITV favourite program, something very good came out of it… a job offer for a new quiz show.

ITV were gobsmacked at the idea of me doing it. That appealed to me

Omid Djalili

“It was offered to me about 10 minutes after I’d failed epically as a contestant on The Chase: Celebrity Special,” Omid laughed in a recent interview.

“In the green room, the producers told me about their new quiz format and how they thought I’d be a totally leftfield choice as presenter.

“ITV were gobsmacked at the idea of me doing it. That appealed to me.”

Of course, the show in question is Winning Combination, which made its debut on our screens on Monday afternoon.

The format sees nine contestants randomly assigned a number between one and nine, who then compete in a series of fast-paced general knowledge rounds to get themselves through to the final.

Once the players are depleted until four remain, they have the chance to win a four-digit jackpot defined by their numbers.

The contestants are eventually whittled down to just four, who come together in the final to try and win the four-digit jackpot defined by their numbers, which could range from any value.

Their numbers also dictate how many questions each contestant must answer correctly against the clock, making it tougher to win the higher amounts.

While the comic has a successful stand-up comedy career alongside his numerous acting credits, this is the first time he has presented a game show.

Speaking of his inspirations behind hosting Winning Combination, Omid noted that Nicholas Parsons from Sale of the Century was the “quintessential English gentleman” that he aspires to be.

“I remember it was made by Anglia TV and his personality cast this mythical hue over the whole region,” he giggled.

And despite The Chase flop, Bradley had some encouraging words for him.

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“He messaged me to say that I shouldn’t be put off,” the comedian revealed.

“He told me that there used to be a stigma about comedians doing quiz shows, but that it didn’t exist any more. He said that I’d love it, which I do.”

Omid pointed out that while comedy on a game show is a plus it isn’t the be-all and end-all, especially during this climate.

“You’re there to facilitate the game-play, so the comedy has to be incidental,” he told Radio Times.

Omid’s full interview is available to read in Radio Times now. [RADIO TIMES]

“Also, there’s no studio audience so when I tell a joke, my crowd are these nine contestants who are focused on the game.

“They don’t want to hear a joke, so they give me no reaction.”

He added: “There’s a joy to that – you’re seeing some good jokes absolutely die on their a**e!”

Omid’s full interview is available to read in Radio Times now.

Winning Combination starts at 3pm before The Chase at 5pm on ITV.

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