Mr. Popularity


By Derek de Koff

How would you like your entire life to be dissected and judged by a motley crew of 100 hard to impress, outspoken women? This summer, WE TV launches its all new competition show, Most Popular, which pits seven female contestants against just that. Six contestants are rudely ousted from the show at the audience's behest, and one triumphantly wins ten thousand dollars. Needless to say, things get gritty. We chatted with the game's host, whacked-out British personality Graham Norton, about snap judgments, first impressions and being bitchy.

Out: Being on this show would be a waking nightmare for most people: standing there, being judged by 100 stony-faced women. How would you do?
Graham Norton: Well, it's one of those weird things. I'm a stand-up, so being judged is sort of my job. What's interesting is that women are much more used to being judged, either by themselves or by others, than men are. When they leave the house, they're so much more aware of the effect they're having, with how they look and what they're wearing. So in a way, it seems like they have an easier time being openly judged by an audience.

Are the women in the audience chosen at random, or are they pre-screened to ensure they have the requisite amount of bitchiness?
Hmm' I don't think they're 'screened,' per se. I think producers look for a range of ages and backgrounds that will reflect on the people who ultimately watch the show. I can tell you that once the women are all seated and the show begins, they take it very, very seriously.

Scary. Will there be a 'very special episode' where the contestants get to rip the audience apart?
Well, one of the things that's so great about this game is that it's a straightforward popularity contest. However, I do think that every once in awhile we'll twist the format ever so slightly for one-offs. Who knows what will happen?

In the two episodes I've seen, the contestants seem to take their final judgments in stride. They each walk off the show gracefully, heads held high. But do they smash up the green room off-camera?
Thankfully, after the interview, I never see them again! I don't want to pick up the pieces!

But I mean, what happens when they're off the air? Does an intern push them out the back door and into an alleyway?
I don't enquire. I'm sure that contestants occasionally feel hard-done by' because occasionally, they are hard-done by.

What is it you say to each contestant on her way out? 'Thanks for leaving.' Right?

Way bitchy. Were there other options?
'Be seeing ya?' Actually, it was always, 'Thanks for leaving.' Sadly, some of the women just up and go before I have the chance to say it.