Sunday 25 August 2019

'I was tired of doing serious stuff - it got me down' - Baz Ashmawy

‘I wanted to do something inspiring,’ says Baz Ashmawy
‘I wanted to do something inspiring,’ says Baz Ashmawy

Jim Gallagher

Baz Ashmawy says he came up with his fun new series, Wingman, because he was tired of doing serious programmes.

The 44-year broadcaster said he wanted a feel-good show that would entertain people.

"I did a documentary on problem gambling called All Bets Are Off," he said. "It did really well, but I felt exhausted because it was sad and it got me down.

"I remember thinking, 'Next thing I do, I want it to be something that's uplifting'. I wanted to do something positive and inspiring.

Baz Ashmawy with his mum Nancy
Baz Ashmawy with his mum Nancy

He said Wingman - in which he helps people fulfil lifelong ambitions or lost dreams - is similar to his hugely successful Sky TV series, 50 Ways To Kill Your Mammy.

"I am there helping people along the way," he said.

"Everyone knows someone who is always banging on, 'I would love to do this or that'. Well, I help them do it."

In Sunday's episode, Baz helps Joe Brown, a devoted dad who cannot drive, take his son, Conor (19), on a road trip.

Sci-fi crazy Conor, who is on the autistic spectrum and has impaired hearing and impaired sight, has never been on a lads' holiday before.

So his family leave it up to Baz to come up with a plan.

The presenter, who also made The Lost Muslim, the RTE show in which he embarked on a personal odyssey in search of his Muslim heritage, said Wingman was one of the most enjoyable shows he has made, despite having to leave his family for weeks on end.

"As series go, it was tough because of the time needed to make it," he said.

"I'm not a very fake person. I can't just turn up for the required number of days of filming.

"This isn't how it works for these people.

"They need to see me there and know we're in it together.

"If you put it into a monetary value, I think my hourly rate was 10c, but it was something I loved doing.

"It was hard work and challenging. I got to do the road trip with Conor, and train with Emma, a cage fighter who is battling breast cancer.

"All the guys in the series are amazing, and I got to do things I had never done before - and that's a big thing, to do something new every day. That was amazing.

Baz said he had his own wingmen growing up.

"Mine tended to be women. My mother, my partner Tanja, my sister Mahy, they are all people I lean on a lot.

"I have been lucky in my career and as bucket lists go, I've done a lot of them.

"I've made a career out of making shows about doing bucket lists.

"Trying to help other people or be supportive of other people and be a positive person and be happy in the simple things is something I'm trying to get better at.

"I'm lucky enough to be in a career now where I can do that," said Baz.

Wingman in on RTE1 on Sunday at 9.30pm

Read more: 'It's so strange loving another man's kids' - Baz Ashmawy on ambition, love and being a mummy's boy

Wingman: new series trades heavily on 'Brand Baz' but that's no bad thing - it's entertaining and compelling 

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