Few men in showbiz can talk as enthusiastically about George Clooney’s skin as French politics.Which makes Dermot O’Leary, Britain’s King of Saturday night television, a rare breed indeed.Well, that’s relatively sad too, but it’s one of the only poems I know off by heart.” So does he know what a wee sleekit cow’rin tim’rous beastie is? It’s more people doing stuff behind the scenes and muggins here holding the whole lot together,” he says. It was just more about the feel and the vibe and what we wanted to do to try and make it a fun entertainment show again, and we are a family. she’s warm, she’s kind, she’s smart, she’s funny, and she’s my best friend.”For someone who’s constantly on air and in the public eye and having to watch what he says, O’Leary values having Dee to just let rip with away from the cameras. I think to be on the telly you’ve got to be pretty comfortable in your own skin.O’Leary himself isn’t intimidated or nervous, but he does get a buzz out of meeting some of his heroes at the awards.“Thierry Henry came on and I’d not met him before. If you pick a song that really resonates, that’s popular. It’s actually a really nice happy place to be, a warm show for the most part for people to be on. As to whether they’d like to have children as O’Leary has been quoted as saying, now he favours a more discreet: “Oh, I don’t want to answer that, is that all right? “Well it’s definitely a responsibility when you do well in life, to help others who haven’t been as fortunate and as lucky to have the opportunity you’ve had. I’ve led a very privileged life, albeit I’ve worked hard for it, but I’m very lucky in the serendipity I’ve had so if you can go out of your way to try and help, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t. When people come on the show, and they might be characters and they might get a NO, but you want to try and make sure that the day they’re having is still a great day.It’s a great funeral song.”Aw no.“No, it’s a nice funeral song,” he insists. If you don’t debate, irrespective of what side you’re on, if you just dismiss people as nutcases, left wing nutjobs or right wing nutjobs, you’re never going to find common ground.I always get amazed when people say ‘why do you follow that person on Twitter ‘cos they’re x or they’re y? Otherwise social media may as well just be an echo of your own opinion and where does that get you?We meet on a sunny Thursday morning in April, when Marine Le Pen, former leader of France’s biggest far-right, anti-immigration party, The National Front, is a candidate in the running to become president in the country’s May election.
You’re not starstruck, but there are definite moments where it’s a pleasure to be in the room. “Billy Connolly was such a nice man, and so proud to get that award and he was brilliant. My dad had a lovely folky tape when I was a kid, with a Connolly song, on it. So I told him that and sang it and his eyes lit up and he ended the song with me. Because it reaches right back into your childhood.“Time for more Burns and “There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.” Who did O’Leary think would win this time? That surprises us every year, and if it surprises us then it surprises people back home. We try to make a really good entertainment show and there’s nowt so queer as folk.” How about the rumoured £8m and a four-year deal that O’Leary was supposedly offered by Simon Cowell to get him back on the show? “I know that sounds like a very flippant way of looking at it, but if you’re just contract chasing, money chasing, that’s not the right way to make a decision.” O’Leary feels that the show definitely has its vibe back and says there never was any bad blood between him and Cowell.“I hate to say it because it kind of validates his decision – even though I sort of left on my own terms – but it feels like being away for a year energised us and actually, we probably have a closer relationship now. “A lot of big charities don’t need your help, it’s not going to make a massive amount of difference, whereas for a small charity it will.”“O, wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as others see us! Not all people are going to be great, but the show for me is a celebration of great British eccentricity and we want to embrace that.”Time’s running out so we wind things up with , ‘Oh the friends we have known and now know, and those who are yet to be’.‘For one night on Question Time, which I think I’d really enjoy, it would probably make the rest of my BBC career on radio more difficult,’ explains Dermot, adding that his ‘broadly centre left’ views would also make it tricky to follow in the footsteps of stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who have branched into politics.‘I don’t think I believe in a single party enough or think I’d be able to tow a party line enough,’ he explains. It’s a physical exertion isn’t it, that’s the thing. You’ve got to pump it up with air, then you’ve got to play it. And yet, when pipers play them properly they sound so beautiful. O’Leary’s interest in connecting and skill at making it look effortless has seen him presenting , ITV’s top rated Saturday night show since 2007, with a year out in 2015 when he was replaced by Olly Murs and Caroline Flack.There’s no laughing at them or in-jokes over their heads, something that stems with being completely at ease with himself.