Celebrities choose the TV moments that have shaped their lives. Style icon Gok Wan looks back at the classic TV memories that helped make him the star we all love today.
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Telly, that magic box in the corner.
It gives us access to a million different worlds,
all from the comfort of our sofa.
'In this series, I'm going to journey through
'the fantastic world of TV with some of our favourite celebrities.
'They've chosen the precious TV moments that shed light...'
The wind almost blew my BLANK off!
You're nearly in the telly, here!
'..on the stories of the lives.'
If you're so blinking clever, you look after him.
This takes me back completely.
'Some are funny...'
# And when they were down they were down! #
-Oh, thank you!
Aw, a lamb!
-It terrifies the life out of me.
'Some are inspiring...'
I wanted to be on telly...
That's it from me, back to you two.
...though this rather futuristic TV..
'..are deeply moving.'
-And it was heartbreaking, I wept.
-It was heartbreaking.
-It's not real.
'So come watch with us, as we hand-pick the vintage telly that
'helped turn our much-loved stars into the people they are today.'
Welcome to The TV That Made Me.
Now, my guest today is a fashion consultant,
author and star of stage and screen...
the irrepressible Gok Wan,
the man who has almost single-handedly taught us
how to feel good about the way we look.
The TV that made him includes a blot on the comedy landscape...
-He is bagged.
-Oh, yes, Blott!
..the most unpredictable pop show ever...
# Talk to me
# Like lovers do. #
..and the Europe-wide quiz for eggheads, Going For Gold.
But you probably know this golden-hearted man best
from the Channel 4 show, How To Look Good Naked.
I mean, you look gorgeous. Our cameraman's shaking right now.
He's easy to spot, he's the one with his clothes on.
It can only be the one and only, international superstar,
babe magnet, Gok Wan!
-Are you happy with that?
I don't know... You're a babe magnet, I'm a fridge magnet.
-It's lovely to be here. How are you?
-Oh, thank you.
Do you like my apartment?
I love your apartment, it's very nice.
It's definitely more stylish than I thought it would have been,
judging from the clothes you wear, Brian.
Ain't that lovely(?) Thank you.
Now, as you know, today is a celebration of you,
-of your television. Television that made you.
-But first, we're going to go back to the beginning...
..and see the young Gok Wan.
-Oh, does it go back that far?
Gok Wan started life in a caravan in Leicester in 1974.
His family did eventually move into their own council house,
but he spent most of his time in The Bamboo House,
a Chinese restaurant run by his mum, Myra, and dad, John.
Now, not wanting to be left behind by his elder brother, Kwoklyn,
or elder sister, Oilen,
Gok began working tables at a very, very early age.
Mum and dad are massive grafters.
You know, seven days a week in the restaurant, they were there all day,
prepping for the evening but working lunches as well.
We were at school.
So all of our time was literally spent in the restaurant,
all our social time.
As soon as we finished school, we'd get picked up,
go to the restaurant, so we were always working.
So from the age of three-and-a-half months, I was in the kitchen.
Slave labour, don't tell the NSPCC now!
So our friends were the chefs and the waiters and the customers
that came in, and it was the most incredible place to be.
And it wasn't until I got slightly older, like six, seven, eight,
did TV start making an appearance in my life.
Probably the earliest memory was a show called Monkey - Monkey Magic.
There's no denying how popular it was.
-It was one of the number-one programmes.
Especially of... Well, I'm a little bit older than you,
but I mean, for all of us, it was THE programme to watch.
And all the catchphrases as well.
When he used to take the stick out of his ear and he did this with it
and throw it in the air and then all of a sudden,
a cloud would appear and he could fly.
And then when Tripitaka used to do the chanting, do you remember that?
And the gold band around his head would get tighter.
Could you do the chanting?
HE MAKES CHANTING SOUND
I wish we had one of those on your head, right now.
Anyway, I remember that, and I remember the lion coming into it.
Me and my brother and sister would all...
We knew the word, word-for-word at the beginning, which was,
"Through evolution came stone Monkey!"
-You do that so well.
-It's quite funny, that.
-Do you remember it?
-Well, I remember it, I know it.
-Have you got it?
Of course we have. Here you are.
'Elemental forces caused the egg to hatch.'
From it then came a stone monkey...
It's amazing. Look at those production values. Amazing.
Do you know, I'm getting really excited watching this.
It's incredible. What great telly!
'The truly revolutionary Monkey was made in Japan in 1978
'and flew onto BBC Two in 1979.
'Each week, it blended martial arts with magic, as Monkey battled
'against an array of evil foes in his quest for enlightenment.
'No British children's show had ever featured such expensive
'special effects and fight choreography.'
-Oh, the music as well, listen.
-Does it take you back?
No wonder I'm camp.
I mean, look at the costume! It is amazing.
-I mean, it's the closest you would get a panto on TV, really.
-Terrible acting... Not that we do terrible acting.
-No, God, no.
But, you know, kind of all the moves are set up
and the choreography, the set's all shaking around.
I mean, what is there not to love about this?
But as a child, did it ever make you laugh, the way it was dubbed?
Yeah, a little bit.
You would take that on... "Want a cup of tea?"
-And it would literally be like that.
-And why was it great for you?
It was great because, you know...
I was brought up on a council estate in the Midlands
in the '70s and '80s,
and we were the only Asian family around.
And the only Asian references that we had were either food
or Chinese New Year, when the school would celebrate Chinese New Year.
And so when there was this programme on television with Asian people
on television doing Asian things like kung fu and using chopsticks,
all of a sudden, it felt like we were accepted.
The spectacular Monkey really did make
our home-grown fantasy programmes for kids
look a bit tame in the '70s.
Apparently, there WERE monsters on Blake's 7,
but the special effects budget was so low, we hardly ever saw them.
And there was no way Tom Baker's Doctor Who was going to
unwind his scarf and pull any neat karate moves
on lumbering monsters like the Mandrels.
Actually, the closest we got to sorcery
and fantasy animals was the great Molly Weir playing McWitch
next to the ghost of a pantomime horse on Rentaghost.
Mind you, the lovely Sue Nicholls played Miss Popov in the
same show and she was always magic.
Do you think this will surprise people, how good you are at magic?
-We've got a pack of cards.
And I know you are great.
Well, the thing is, I do love magic.
When I was growing up, Paul Daniels was obviously
the hottest thing on television when it came to magic.
I always wanted to be Debbie McGee, though, I have to be very honest.
I always wanted to be the glamorous assistant, never the magician.
So, what I'll ask you to do now is choose a card, just choose one card.
-You got one, two, three, four, five, six cards, sticking up.
No, don't tell me what the actual card is.
What you need to do is tell me which number is it.
One, two, three, four, five, or six?
It is number five.
Number five, right, OK.
You ready? Watch this. One, two, three, four, five.
Your card is on top there, it is going into the pack.
-Right into the middle.
-Just there, yeah. Absolutely.
Right, so what I'm going to do now is ask you to look at that one card.
-Was it that one?
-I'm afraid it wasn't.
-Oh, it wasn't that one?
-OK, so look at that card.
-Is there anything wrong with that card?
-Does it look magical?
-Does it look like it could do a trick?
So I'm going to put that back there. And what we're going to do...
Just watch with your eyes, very carefully.
-Just think about that card.
-Think about it.
-OK, what card was it?
-It was a five of diamonds.
Five of diamonds?
That was brilliant.
-Well, I'm going to go now to Must-See TV.
This is just something you just had to watch,
it was of course Must-See TV.
And I want to take you to 1983.
1983, I was nine.
This week's show's going to be completely out of proportion
to anything that we've ever had before in our lives.
The Tube! Look at Jools, he's a child!
Could you do that for us, do you think?
We've got live music from Sade,
spelt "Say-day", pronounced "Shard-a"...
-They've got matching hair!
If you look on these monitors here, you will see two films that we shot,
one of Swans Way, one of Colourfield...
When I was nine, watching this with my sister,
I would watch this programme with her, to try and be my sister.
So I'd be emulating her to watch this programme.
I didn't really understand it, because I was nine.
But it was a way of me being closer to my sister,
it was a way of me fitting into her world.
# Talk to me
# Like lovers do. #
-Oh, my God! Annie! Incredible. What a voice.
'From the time it hit our screens in 1982,
'The Tube revolutionised the way we watched music TV.
'All the acts played completely live, and after The Tube,
'miming to records on other pop shows just looked like cheating.'
MUSIC: Here Comes The Rain Again by Eurythmics
Amazing fashion. She was the '80s personified.
'80s bands like Culture Club, Tears For Fears, Depeche Mode
'and Frankie Goes To Hollywood's TV appearances were sending out
'messages about style and sexuality that influenced us all.
'But the fashion icon that really made her mark on Gok
'was a lot closer to home.'
Did your sister influence you in what you do now?
-Oh, my God, everything.
-The first makeover...
Is it because you're into...
you are attracted to dominant women?
I've always loved women
and my sister is a strong, clever, brilliant woman.
When we were going through quite a lot of social abuse
-on the estate for being Chinese and fat and camp...
..and all that kind of thing, it never affected my sister.
She was strong and she would stand up for the family.
I mean, I wasn't as strong then as a person,
so I looked up to her for that reason.
So, women have always...
And she probably was the catalyst of my appreciation for women.
The first makeover I ever saw was my sister's makeover,
and she would get home from school and she'd wear a navy blue
and a white uniform, and then she would go upstairs to her room
and then come downstairs. Within moments she was transformed
and she'd be semi-goth with a tube skirt and brogues,
an oversized boyfriend blazer.
And I remember watching my sister, thinking it's the most
incredible thing that you can go from looking this way
to that way in a second.
-What it does is it just boosts your confidence.
And it turns you into a different person.
It was the way that my sister
started to develop into the person that she is.
So, if you think about it, I've probably done, I don't know,
thousands and thousands and thousands of makeovers
-over my career.
-But, in fact, the most important makeover
stemmed from that programme.
It was The Tube and that era and my sister's makeover.
-But you spoke about being picked on
-and you spoke about being large.
And I think people will be
quite surprised and unaware that you were very large.
Really large, yeah, yeah.
Probably wouldn't have fitted on this set, actually! THEY LAUGH
-OK, at the age of 15...
-I was 15st.
I gained a stone for every year I lived.
That was kind of how I measured my weight.
I got bigger and bigger and bigger.
So how old were you... What was the catalystic moment that
made you go, "Hang on, I need to sort myself out?"
I was 21.
I had reached 21st, approximately 21st, so I had a 48-inch waist.
I remember the 48-inch waist, but do you know what? I was really happy.
I'd gone to college and I had decided by then
what my career path would be.
It was to be a performer.
I wanted to be an actor
and I auditioned at a really tough school to get into,
the Central School of Speech and Drama,
and I walked in and I stood there and I was this 21st, gay, tall,
Chinese, a little bit like Hagrid.
The door threw open and I remember the smell, first of all, was damp,
and the second thing I remember was looking round thinking,
"I do not look like any single person here, not a single person."
Everyone had blonde hair and blue eyes and they were beautiful
and they were thin and they were chiselled.
I suddenly thought to myself,
"Oh, no. You've done something wrong here.
"This is not good news for you at all.
I thought to myself, "Right, that's it, you're going to change
"the way that you look", and this is the biggest mistake of my life.
"And if you look like everybody else,
"then you'll be just as good as them."
And I remember that.
Why was it a mistake?
Well, it was a mistake because...
And look how much it affects you even now, because you are...
It was a big story because it's like part of your heritage, isn't it?
I suppose I've made a career teaching people
the bad mistake that I made, believing in the hype,
the press hype that you have to look a certain way,
that, you know, if you're different at all, then difference is wrong,
that you need to be like everybody else and I did truly believe it.
Really, really believed it and, you know, it was a big mistake.
So, what would you say to that 21-year-old now?
"Do you know what? Don't worry.
"Don't worry because you're going to find stuff later on in your life,
"which will feel bigger and more emotional and harder
"and this is a small moment in your life.
"It feels like everything right now,
"but it's a small moment in your life."
And I do genuinely believe that we do love each other for who we are.
It's not just the way we look.
-Your next choice is Guilty Pleasure.
I'm not going to say anything except I'm taking you back to 1983.
I'm so excited.
-Lynda La Plante.
-Oh, my God.
This is everything that I love about television.
What about explosives?
-Do me a favour.
-Sorry. Sorry, Dolly.
I've got a meeting with the security contact.
All of their fellas have all been banged up for a job
and they are the wives that are going to do the job now,
and it's basically a bank robbery.
-The big one's in four months' time.
-Is that the one we're going for?
We'll need every minute.
This is what old-school serial writing was.
It was not terribly acted, but not brilliantly.
It was just a really honest series that you got hooked into.
You two better get yourself wheels, good ones.
'First screened in 1983, Widows was a huge hit and was
'BAFTA nominated for its moody, realistic and innovative direction.
'It was writer Lynda La Plante's first-ever screenplay,
'which she wrote because she believed
'there weren't enough realistic roles for women.'
Now's your chance, love. In or out?
Do you remember years ago, before we had www.anything.com?
You know, you can get catch up this now and you can watch it
on your phone, you can watch it on your watch, you can
watch it on your mirror - do you see what I mean?
In a weird way, it's lost exactly what this programme was about.
It was about looking forward to something,
days before it was on and it was just also great writing.
-Did you love the characters?
-I loved the characters.
They were just strong and they were go-getting,
but also vulnerable at the same time.
I think everything that I love about women is that strength
and vulnerability mixed together.
-There's a real theme.
-Yeah, there is.
-When we talk about your sister...
..the way you sort of reacted to Annie Lennox
-and now these strong women.
-I've always, always, always...
I mean, far, way before I knew I was gay, I always loved women.
Women fascinate me.
And also when you are doing How To Do Good Naked,
you are making women into strong women.
Yeah, hopefully. A little bit.
I don't think I can be solely responsible for them being really
confident and strong, but hopefully,
I like to think I've had a hand in that.
I've given them a place that they can come to, that they can discuss
their fears and they can discuss how they really feel about themselves.
-I want to move on now to your Comedy Hero.
-I don't want to say any more.
Blott On The Landscape. Oh, my goodness.
What on earth's this, Mrs Purity?
That's your breakfast, Giles.
Breakfast? It's uncooked oysters.
'Blott On The Landscape featured a stellar cast.
'Not only Hercule Poirot - of course, I mean David Suchet...'
He is bagged.
'..but also Geraldine James and the great Arthur Daley, aka...'
-I don't like him.
He's foreign, his teeth aren't nice
and he doesn't behave like a servant.
-This is British TV at its best, isn't it?
Brilliantly made, the sets, the costume, the script is incredible.
This is great British telly.
I suppose he's not obsequious enough for you.
Bloody man thinks he owns the place.
-How old was you when you was watching this?
-I don't even know.
-What year was this made?
-This is 1985.
So I would've been nine years old. Nine years old. Do you know what?
I tell you why I loved Blott On The Landscape.
It was because it was a bit rude.
This fodder is supposed to make me randy.
It was a bit naughty, the humour was a bit saucy, the language was
a bit saucy, there was a tiny little bit of nudity in there and...
as you know, there's a side of my personality which is quite naughty.
No! I don't think we've seen that today(!)
I like being really cheeky
and this is where probably my humour started to develop.
Pushing people a little bit further than they've been before to laugh.
You mention nudity. Did you question your sexuality
-when you watched something like that at that tender age?
I was about nine years old
and I think I was coming of age, physically as well, and it wasn't
until this age that I started... I knew that I was attracted to guys.
It's very weird because the feeling was there way before words were.
-I could never have articulated that. I just knew
it was there and it was programmes like Blott On The Landscape -
and Tom Sharpe is a very provocative novelist -
that allowed me to come out. It was a huge part of my coming out.
And how difficult was it for you to tell your parents?
It was quite tough. I didn't want my dad to know.
Eventually, my mum told me that she'd told my dad and I was seeing
a guy at the time and so I knew exactly what I was doing.
I'd created this device in my head and I said to this guy that
I was seeing, "Right, we're going to go back and meet my parents."
Went home, drove up, went into the restaurant, went up the stairs,
went through the door, took a right into the kitchen and like I thought,
my entire family was sat around the table eating and they all
spun around and then there was silence,
because I was standing there with this guy.
And they kind of looked away
and Mum said, "Get a bowl, sit down,"
so we sat down and we ate in silence
for the first meal of my entire life,
and then halfway through the meal, my dad leaves
and goes into the sitting room and my father never does that.
The head of the table never leaves halfway through a meal,
he's always the last person eating, and he'd left, so we knew
there was something devastating, it was awful, it was terrible.
And at the end of the meal,
I walked out and I walked through the hallway,
got to the living room door and I could hear my dad in there,
and it was a rustling sound of things being moved around,
and I opened the door and I looked through,
and my dad had taken all of the cushions off of the sofas and chairs
and laid them out and lit a fire, and it was his way of saying,
-"It's fine. You can sleep here with your boyfriend."
-Aww! Ain't that lovely?
-Ain't that a wonderful story?
This is your Family Favourite now.
This is something you'd all sit down and have a look at if you could.
-It is, of course, Going For Gold.
-Going For Gold!
# Going, going for gold! #
Hosted by the legendary Henry Kelly.
Henry Kelly, who is now my neighbour.
Welcome again to Going For Gold.
Oh, look at him. You know what, he's not changed really.
-So, you would play this as a family?
-We'd kind of play this as a family.
Look at those stars. Look at Wales! Oh, Finland!
"Look, it's me. I'm from Finland."
-This was a great game show, wasn't it?
'You could say Going For Gold
'was the most unequalled quiz show ever created.
'The contestants were from all over Europe,
'but it was all in English and surprise, surprise,
'England won the most times.'
So, we're going to play.
First one to get three questions right wins a biscuit. Here we go.
What am I?
I am a European city famous as the birthplace of the Renaissance...
-..some of the greatest...
-Is the correct answer.
-Shut up! I got it wrong.
Hands on the buzzers. Who am I? My name is the title of an opera.
The action is set in Spain, where I work in a factory...
-Carmen is correct.
-Yes! Got it.
-I'm so competitive, I can't bear it.
-We're only having a laugh.
What am I? I am a book that was made into a Broadway musical
and then into a film...
..my story is about a French planter played in the film...
I didn't know it was Rogers and Hammerstein, did you?
-Judy knew it.
-Judy knew it. From Wales.
-We're really bad at this!
-You got one right.
-I got one right.
-Do I get a biscuit?
-You get a biscuit.
-I wish they were spring rolls.
Chocolate or a digestive?
That is the worst gift I've ever been given in my entire life!
Gok, your big break had to be How To Look Good Naked.
-Would you say that or am I wrong?
-Yeah. Kind of.
It's weird, because I kind of had two jobs doing the same job.
-So you started as a pop star stylist?
-I did, yeah.
I originally was a make-up artist
and then discovered a rail of clothes on a shoot one day
and suddenly thought, "Oh, my God. This is incredible."
It was like I'd found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow
and I looked through this rail,
I remember pulling out all these pieces for a photo shoot
for a supplement, a Sunday supplement, I was on assisting.
I remember seeing all the clothes and it was, every single piece that
I pulled out, I just, in a weird way, just understood the clothing.
I knew what it was about and why it was there
and what it was going to do and how it should be shot,
and that was my first entrance as a fashion stylist.
Working as a fashion stylist and working on music videos,
commercials, editorial, doesn't matter,
and then, all of a sudden, television came around.
And I loved being on camera.
My show reel had ended up on daytime at Channel 4
-and that's where Naked came from.
-Shall we have a little look?
Oh, my God. This is the hardest thing, for me to watch myself now.
'Because of this area that we know that you're not happy with,'
we want that to carry on down and
almost skim where your leg might be.
-That was ten, over ten years ago.
What these trousers do is they have this great waistband here.
-You see how it stops just where your waist needs to be?
-Tell me what you see?
-It comes in here.
'Naked brought Gok's personal philosophy about loving ourselves
-'into our living rooms in 2006.'
-I mean, you look gorgeous.
Our cameraman is shaking right now. That's how gorgeous you look.
-I think it's making me look a lot thinner. Definitely.
-How do you feel when you watch yourself?
-I am so critical.
I'm finding it really, really difficult. That was ten years ago.
I'm so critical. I mean, it's amazing.
How To Look Good Naked was an incredible show.
It showed in so many countries around the world and was brilliant,
but, do you know what? It was never about my performance, I don't think.
I think I just did my job on TV.
It was the generosity of those amazing women
that gave their stories.
-How many episodes did you do?
-I think we made about 78 of them.
Tell me what do you think, all right?
'Unlike similar lifestyle shows, Gok never
'encouraged his girlfriends to have cosmetic surgery or even diet.'
When you get so close to a woman and she's letting you in,
there's a respect that I've got to give her.
-Projected onto a building, bangers out for everyone to see.
But they were incredible, incredible women.
They were so generous with their stories because without them,
we didn't have a show to make, really.
It wasn't about that top with the gorgeous chevrons. It wasn't about the jeans with
the panelling, it wasn't anything about that.
You'll forget those jeans and that top, but you'll never forget her.
How To Look Good Naked, we didn't think it was going to be like this
at all when we started filming it.
We didn't know the bond I was going to have with the women at all.
It was something that came much further on, and then at the end,
we were still filming, we'd run over the filming schedule
of the first series and we were filming on a boat on the Thames,
and it was the night that the first show went out and my director
said to me, "Your life is about to change for ever, Gok."
And I said, "Don't be silly. Don't be silly."
She said, "No, it will.
"Overnight, your life is about to change forever."
And she was absolutely right. 100%.
I want to ask you, what do you enjoy watching now?
-What do I enjoy watching now?
-Are you a box set man?
-Kind of. Yes.
The last box set I watched was Silk,
which was a great series. I loved it, I got really into it.
It's all about lawyers and barristers. My sister's a lawyer.
There's a connection there again somewhere. I love Sex And The City.
I can watch those over and over and over again. I love Frasier.
It really makes me laugh, absolutely brilliant television.
And, you know what, I'm a bit of a sucker for The X Factor.
I have to say, I do love The X Factor.
And Britain's Got Talent as well, I really like. So, varied now.
When I'm not working, that is.
-I ask my guests to pick a theme tune for us to go out on.
-Is there one that springs to mind?
-It's got to be Monkey Magic.
It has got to be that,
because that is just everything about what I think TV should be -
-Well, from the bottom of my heart,
I want to thank you for coming on the show.
Ladies and gentlemen - Gok Wan.
And thank you for watching TV That Made Me.
We'll see you next time. Give them a wave.
# Born from an egg on a mountain top
# The funkiest monkey that ever popped
# He knew every magic trick under the sun
# To tease the Gods And everyone and have some fun
# Monkey magic
# Monkey magic. #
Style icon Gok Wan joins comedy legend Brian Conley to look back at the classic TV memories from his past that helped make him the star we all love today.
From the magic and mystery of Japan's classic children's drama Monkey to the pan-European quiz show Going for Gold, via groundbreaking, anarchic pop series The Tube, Brian takes Gok down memory lane to uncover how his early TV influences set him on the path to fame.