The Conversation: Daisy Donovan, TV presenter


You've been around the world appearing on crazy TV shows for a new Channel 4 series. You must have seen some sights.

In Brazil, they had a daytime live murder show. The scheduling was interesting. I was watching the previous show, which was cartoons for the kids, and then you hear live murder is coming up. There was footage of a boy who'd been killed, and his body was just covered with a piece of cardboard. It was so demeaning and shocking. I thought it was an aberration, but the host said it happens daily.

And then in the middle, they segue into selling slimming capsules.

In the first break it was Lipo-Max, then the second one they wheeled on some mopeds.

In case you want to conduct your own drive-by shooting?

In case you need it for your burglary. I haven't seen a live sales advert since the Fifties; it felt like watching Mad Men. It was really surreal.

So far, so crazy. Tell us about TV in Egypt.

There's a prank show hosted by a very famous guy called Ramez – think Ricky Gervais in Egypt – and they put a celebrity in a coach on a very notorious kidnap road. Masked men kill the driver and take the celebrity – that is the prank. It's the number one show during Ramadan.

After the uprisings and revolution, are they desensitised to violence?

Ramez said it was a kind of gallows humour. By laughing about it, it seems less frightening.

I suppose some of our shows might seem shocking to other countries. Embarrassing Bodies would be an absolute no-go in the Arab world.

Embarrassing Ankles, maybe.

Talking of shocking, on The 11 O'Clock Show you asked Denis Healy if he'd given Margaret Thatcher a pearl necklace.

So juvenile, but so fun. Only one politician ever walked out on me – it was John Redwood. I can't believe I said those things. I met my husband Dan [Mazer, the screenwriter] on the show, and we were all as ridiculous as each other.

Sacha Baron Cohen and Ricky Gervais were on it too. They are so rich.

They walk on diamonds.

Does Sacha drink lemonade flavoured with the tears of an otter?

They've done amazingly well. Dan and Sacha work together on everything so that's lucky for me. Non-stop discussion on various obscene jokes.

Is it just one big laugh round your house?

We are great friends, and we really find each other funny – though many don't find us funny. We didn't suddenly grow up and change the way we were when we had kids – I feared we might have to talk about piano and Mozart. I feared I'd be the woman who understands what Kumon is.

I went to school with children who had weekend Kumon lessons in maths.

And were they brilliant?

Yes, but it raises the bar for all the other children.

I don't like the game being raised for anybody, I like a low bar.

Have you seen the logo? It's a child's unhappy face.

That's a reason not to change; that's a reason to still make ridiculous jokes about William Hague taking Tony Blair from behind.

'The Greatest Shows On Earth' airs on Mondays at 10pm on Channel 4


Daisy Donovan is a presenter, actress and writer. She's chiefly renowned for her appearances on The 11 O'Clock Show, and lives with her husband and two children in west London

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Ashdown Group: HR Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A mainstream Secondary school in C...

Guru Careers: HR Administrator / Training Coordinator

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: An HR Administrator / Training Coordinator is requi...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food