When it debuted in the US last April, Lip Sync Battle became an instant hit as clips of Dwayne Johnson, Jimmy Fallon and Anne Hathaway delivering hilarious mimed performances of current and classic chart hits went viral. Now, Channel 5 has commissioned a UK version in which celebrities ranging from Johnny Vegas to Alesha Dixon will show off their lip-syncing skills as hosts Mel B and Professor Green whip up the crowd. Keen to find out if Lip Sync Battle UK will live up to the US original, NME called Pro Green for the lowdown.
How would you sell Lip Sync Battle UK to the uninitiated?
“First and foremost it’s fun. Last year was quite stressful for me so I wanted to do something I could have a bit of a giggle with, and giggles were definitely had. You get to see celebrities completely out of their comfort zone in an environment that’s totally alien to them.”
How does Lip Sync Battle UK differ from the US original?
“The sense of humour is what sets it apart. Neither Mel or me are renowned for biting our tongues, are we? And neither are many of our guests. We’ve had quite a few comedians on the show so there’s a lot of back and forth. The dynamic between Mel, myself and the celebrities is often quite chaotic, but it’s a good kind of chaos.”
What’s your relationship with Mel B like?
“A little bit brother and sister-y. I mean, I was a little bit scared, to be honest. I can hold my own, but I do get bullied quite a lot because I have a wife and on this show there are a lot of attractive female guests. ‘So, what did you think of that performance featuring an attractive female guest, Pro? Come on, you know what I mean…’ And obviously there are a lot of female dancers on the show too. So it did become a bit of a running theme: how much trouble can we get Pro into?”
Did you and Mel hit it off straight away?
“Straight away. When I showed up to the first day wearing the same suit as I’d worn to the Cosmo Awards the night before, we hit it off like a house on fire.”
Which of the celebrity competitors will most take us by surprise, do you think?
“Hmm… Jason Manford was amazing. Oh mate, I don’t want to give too much away, but his last performance was a spectacle, let’s put it that way. And just wait till you see Johnny Vegas, that was definitely one of the more chaotic episodes. Put it this way: me and Mel didn’t have to say or do very much, because between Johnny and [his opponent] Vic Reeves it all just happened.”
Did any of the celebrities pick really surprising songs to lip sync to?
“Well, Alesha Dixon does ‘Shutdown’ by Skepta on episode one. Because of Alesha’s background, it didn’t surprise me, but it might surprise some people. There were a couple of people who did songs that I didn’t actually know. And there’s one guest on the show – I can’t say her name – who I always thought she was a bit of an indie chick, but she comes out and does a song that definitely isn’t indie. She does a track by another white rapper. To be honest with you, quite a lot of people did rap songs, but no one did one of mine, so by the end I was just like, ‘Right. No one likes me then.’
Does anyone do a Spice Girls song?
“Only me in the advert!”
If Channel 5 commissions a second series, which celebrity would be top of your wish list?
“I’d really like to see Simon Cowell do it. I think perception-wise, it would do him wonders.”
He could do an X Factor winner’s single.
“I mean, he probably would just for the sake of record sales, wouldn’t he? I doubt he’d do a song by an act that wasn’t one of his! I like Simon Cowell, man, I think he’s a laugh. And if he really went for it, I think he’d smash it. I’d want him to compete against Louis Walsh. I’m not really aware of whether there’s any bad blood between them but that could definitely be quite funny.”
Lip Sync Battle UK begins this Friday (January 8) at 10pm on Channel 5.