There’s no denying watching celebrities partake in reality TV makes for great entertainment – but add to the mix ghostly goings-on and you’ve got yourself a winning formula.
Enter Celebrity Haunted Mansion: the bigger and badder successor to W’s (BT TV channel 311) Celebrity Haunted Hotel.
Broadcast live, the UKTV scare fest – once again hosted by Christine Lampard (nee Bleakley) and Matt Richardson – will see two teams of famous faces, assisted by their paranormal expert team captains, head into a deserted Gothic estate for a total of five fearsome nights.
Each night, there will be a climactic live ghost hunt testing bravery and investigation skills to the limit – whereby two stars will leave the show. Those who survive will battle to reach the final, where only one celebrity can be crowned champion ghost hunter.
One thing’s for sure, Lampard, 39, wouldn’t brave the shadows alone.
“We’ve got people [the crew] with us, which is really crucial,” she states, only too pleased to sideline the action. “Venturing to do tasks and rooms on your own does not do anything for me at all. I would just be dreadful.”
“I think we’re going to push ourselves this year and go and do some bits though,” chimes Richardson, 26. “Although, Christine is very hesitant about this…”
“I am a little bit funny about it,” she admits. “I’m just not fussed on it. I believe and that’s enough for me. I don’t need to see something for the confirmation.”
She follows: “Like years ago, did you ever do Ouija boards and things? See, I would never have done [that].
“Do you remember last time, when they had the Ouija board on the programme?” the Northern Irish star turns to ask Richardson.
“The reason they’re supposedly so evil is that people don’t know how to shut them down afterwards.
“If you leave it open, that’s when all the crazy stuff happens. I don’t want any of that crazy stuff!”
Luckily, this season’s guests are proving more forthcoming.
While the entire line-up is yet to be confirmed, the popular duo can confirm reality favourite Katie Price is on board, as is Corrie veteran – and paranormal obsessive – Simon Gregson.
“Katie Price was tweeting during the show last year, asking if we could get her down there,” recalls comedian Richardson. “She basically booked herself onto the show!”
“And we’re really excited about [Simon], purely because you just don’t see him do any of these kind of shows,” adds Lampard.
“He’s never done reality, ever. You hardly see him doing interviews, so to have him involved just because he’s genuinely interested in it is fantastic.”
Though this time the rules are different.
Previously, celebrity guests checked in to the spooky lodgings for a night or two. In the reincarnation, we will see the well-known names eliminated each night until there are two left to fight it out.
“Last time we’d have interaction with them in the day too, whereas this time they’re being isolated from everyone,” reveals Richardson, who is also set to present sister show Celebrity Haunted Mansion: High Spirits.
“They’re filming all night and then sleeping during the day, so they’re not really going to see daylight,” he continues. “And they’re having their phones and everything taken off them, so that’s their world for a week.”
“It’s going to mess with your head,” quips Lampard. “I think from a viewer perspective, it will be really fascinating.”
And there’s absolutely no gimmicks – no camera tricks?
“No! Absolutely not,” she shoots back.
“Our problem is the purists,” Richardson reasons. “Because we’ve turned it into this big entertainment show, people who watch Most Haunted are like, ‘It should be Yvette Fielding in a room with a shaky camera and Derek Acorah doing his voices’.
“Basically we’re mashing together two types of show: Most Haunted and I’m A Celeb…,” he adds. “We want to make this hybrid show and that’s the issue.
“People think we’re disrespecting it in some way because we’re not doing it in the way that they think it should be done, which I understand. But you’ve got two things here: People want to see ghosts and weird things happen and people want to see celebrities ‘cack’ their pants.”
“Exactly. It’s worth watching, whether you believe in ghosts or not, just because all the boxes are ticked for it to be a mad show,” agrees Lampard.
“And by the nature of what it is, we’re on standby for anything happening, so it’s very reactive.”
Are they expecting the show to be a conversational hit on social media, then?
“I take what comes,” Richardson answers first. “I just assume everything I’m going to do is going to get cancelled anyway. And then if you get another one, it’s a bonus!
“I knew this one would do well though, because you [Christine] was doing it,” says the former Xtra Factor host, with a laugh. “And you’ve got a really good hit rate of good shows!”
Having earned her stripes on Daybreak, Dancing On Ice, This Morning and The One Show, the Loose Women panellist – married to retired footballer Frank Lampard – is undoubtedly in her element when it comes to live broadcasting.
But the show isn’t an audition for her next job, she insists.
“I love telly. I love watching telly and I watch most things,” Lampard begins. “But there’s really nothing I watch where I think, ‘I’d love to be doing that’.
“Honestly, I watch all the reality stuff, but I have no desire to be in them at all,” she says, smiling. “I love what I am doing at the minute and I feel really lucky.
“I’ve got a nice mix of nice shows – and then you get something like this, which is a big, massive, bulky show for a week of your life. It’s just great,” she finishes. “It’s a nice balance.”
Celebrity Haunted Mansion airs for five nights live on W from Wednesday, February 21.
W is one of 60 premium channels available on BT TV along with other channels such as Alibi, Gold, Good Food and many more.