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Mo Gilligan on returning to the BRITS: ‘It’s massive!’

Mo Gilligan on hosting the BRITs 2023, the importance of using his platform, and *those* Late Late Show rumours

By Nick Reilly

Mo Gilligan (Picture: John Marshall:JMEnternational)

As The BRIT Awards returns this weekend, host Mo Gilligan has told Rolling Stone UK all about his return for the second year in a row, and why a move to Saturday night for the first time in the ceremony’s history means a degree of added pressure.

“You’re in charge of people’s weekends!” he says. “You’ve got to have those party starter vibes.”

We’re under no doubt that Mo, who won plaudits last year for his affable and approachable hosting style, will smash it once again.

You can read our whole interview with Mo Gilligan below.

Hello Mo Gilligan, you’re back as BRITs host for 2023. That’s quite a start to the year!

It’s a big start! I’m a comedian and music isn’t my world, but to be invited in to host this again is an amazing thing. For the first time on a Saturday night too, so it feels like my first time even though it’s my second.

Being on a Saturday for the first time, there’s extra pressure to bring the party right?

You’re in charge of people’s weekends and you’ve got that added pressure, but that vibe is what’s going to make it the show. So it’s important to get those party starter vibes, everyone knows Saturday night TV is such a staple of being British, so you’ve got the pressure of living up to that too. I’m on the Masked Singer too beforehand, so I’ve had a few people calling me Mr. Saturday Night. That feels like a really cool and flattering thing.

You took over from Jack Whitehall last year. His style leaned heavily on cutting celebrities down to size, whereas yours felt like a celebration of music and the event.

Me and Jack have totally different styles, so that was me trying to put my own stamp on it. Jack has been so lovely, he sent me a text the day before just being like ‘bro, you’re going to smash it and you’re a great person to do it’. I felt like I was ready for that. James Corden sent me a text too, just saying good luck. It’s nice that people who have been there were able to give me that pat on the back.

How’s preparation for this year going?

It’s a funny one with the BRITs, because it feels like organised chaos. You can’t focus too much on what’s happening at the time, because there’s events that will probably happen in the run-up to the show. You can loosely prep, but this is my first big TV thing of the year and it helps that I feel energised! We started writing in December, but that changes up to the last minute. It’s a nice thing, but I didn’t know how big a production it was until last year.

It must help that you’ve now done two gigs of your own at The O2 Arena with The Black British Takeover

They call it the MO2 now! To be back there, it’s nice to do it again, but nothing can prepare you for what it’s like at The BRITs. It’s massive, there’s cars everywhere and nothing could prepare me for the scale of it.

What were your memories of the BRITs when growing up?

I’m a big fan of Jamiroquai, so I loved his performance with Diana Ross in 1997. I know Dave too and seeing his performance last year where he had a flamethrower coming out of his guitar was amazing. It made me think ‘what can this guy not do?’ I grew up listening to a lot of old school garage and So Solid in their white suits is for me a moment in history. I remember thinking ‘Oh my god! These guys are in white suits and platinum chains’. I will never forget that moment and that’s why I like about the BRITs – young people will be getting their memories when they watch it right now.

Any pre-show rituals?

I do like a nap! If I can have an hour before a big thing it’s bliss. It allows me to reset my mind, perfect! It’s the way to get the best out of me, so I can reset my mind a little bit. I won’t repeat the mistake of going to the gym at 6AM on the day of the BRITs. That was so stupid, I was tired by 4PM. I’ll be conserving my energy. Hyped-up tunes to make it a party atmosphere and a nap. Maybe a little Disaronno or tequila to calm the nerves.

You mentioned James Corden earlier, who went on to huge US success after hosting the BRITs. He’s departing The Late Late Show later this year. Would you take that gig if it came calling?

Whether it’s the Late Late Show, or just any show, I never want to put myself in a box and say that’s the thing I want to do. To work in another country is a blessing in itself, I only really started travelling when I was 22. To work in another country and become part of that culture is something special. I’d never say it’s the one I want to do, but to work out there would be amazing. I grew up in South London playing patball against a wall with my friends!

Even filming That’s My Jam in LA, I said if that’s the one thing I get to do, then I can say I had a show in Universal Studios. I got to go past the clock tower every morning and if that was just it, then that would be enough for me.

Your name has been linked with The Late Late Show, in fairness. Has there been any talks?

It’s really flattering and I’ve had people linking me to the Big Brother job too. I’ve had friends and family asking me if it’s true! Not it’s not. But it is so flattering, just to be in a position in my career where I’m being linked to it.

Mo Gilligan (Picture: John Marshall:JMEnternational)

Tell us about some of the causes you’re helping out by donating your fee?

Last time I donated it to Five x More, which focuses on Black maternal health in the UK. It’s one thing donating, but I wanted to also use my platform to shine a light on their cause. I saw the work they did in the background, it’s run by two young girls and the work they continue to do is so important. It’s all about helping people in my own community, and I’ll be helping them out again with a donation this year. There’s other causes too I’m helping, like Power the Fight and the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust Charity. I’ve been blessed with my dream job and now it’s important to help out these causes too. I get to wake up and live my dream everyday, but life is hard for charities when it comes to getting funding and telling people about their cause. If I can help with that, then that’s what I’ll do.

What’s happening for the rest of your year?

I’m taking The Black British Takeover on tour. I learnt a lot of my skills from the Black comedy circuit, it taught me to do TV and tours effectively. I wanted people to know that’s where it comes from. It’s amazing to do a tour, but even better to do a show with the people you’ve grown up sharing car journeys with and comics who have inspired you.

It’s about that lasting legacy too, letting the British public know there’s these amazing comedians on your front door and you can literally see them for about ten pounds, some of them are funnier than me! But we’ve done The O2 twice now and I didn’t want it to become too London-centric. I wanted to take it where I can, to the people that wanna watch it. Let’s go to Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham. You have to take it to the people.