NTAs host Joel Dommett has admitted that he almost rejected away one of his career’s biggest opportunities.
Prior to 2016, the TV star was already climbing the comedy ladder, doing stand-up and acting in shows such as Impractical Jokers, Skins, Live in Chelsea, and Reality Bites.
That year, though, his celebrity skyrocketed when he joined the cast of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, living in the jungle alongside Carol Vorderman, Adam Thomas, and Wayne Bridge, and ending as the runner-up to Scarlett Moffatt.
The comedian is presenting the National Television Awards (NTAs) for the third year in a row tonight, and he spoke about a critical time in his life ahead of the celebration.
When asked if there were any notable opportunities that he’d rejected in the past, Joel explained that he was extremely close to not doing I’m A Celebrity, so much so that it was a ‘real sliding doors moment’.
‘I was so close to turning down doing the jungle in the first place in 2016, and it’s mad to think, would I be sat here with you right now talking if we did turn that down?’ the 38-year-old shared.
‘It historically hadn’t really been a great show for comedians and so it generally was not a show that comedians did because of that. I was the first person for like, probably 10 years or something, a comic who did that. It took a real leap of faith to do it.’
Joel outlined how going to Australia for the ITV series ‘slotted in perfectly’ with his schedule, because he was in the process of making a travel show at the time.
However, if the dates had been different by just a couple of days, then it could have been a completely different story for the trajectory of his career.
‘I feel very lucky that the yeses have plotted me on a path to get me to the NTAs and sat here now,’ he said humbly.
Saying yes to I’m A Celebrity wasn’t just an off-the-cuff decision – as it was in fact another comedian who indirectly convinced him to take part.
‘I was in Australia doing the Melbourne Comedy Festival. There was a guy there who was in their version of the I’m A Celebrity jungle. I went to his show, and it was sold out across the whole run of Melbourne in this huge theatre,’ he recalled.
‘I just remember asking someone, “How have they sold out their entire run?” And they were like, “Oh, they were in the jungle last year, and they’re now hosting the extra show.”
‘I went home that night in my hotel room, and I remember sending an email to my agent being like, “I think maybe we need to consider doing things a little bit differently.”’
Joel explained that typically, if you were a comic, then your ‘one road in essentially’ would be doing the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, while hopefully getting on Mock The Week and performing at Live at the Apollo, ‘and then that’s how you sell a tour’.
‘It worked really well for a number of people at that point. But Live at the Apollo weren’t seeing me and I couldn’t get on Mock The Week, I couldn’t get on 8 Out of 10 Cats. I just felt like I was really getting the door slammed in my face a lot at that point,’ he stated.
‘Now I look back and I know that I wasn’t ready, but instead I just went in an entirely different route. It was a sort of an uncharted route at that point.
National Television Awards 2023 nominations: List in full
- Beyond Paradise
- Blue Lights
- Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story
- Love Island
- Race Across the World
- SAS: Who Dares Wins
- The Traitors
- Deborah James: Bowelbabe in Her Own Words
- Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now
- Matt Willis: Fighting Addiction
- Rob Burrow: Living with MND
- Call the Midwife
- Happy Valley
- Stranger Things
- Alison Hammond
- Ant & Dec
- Bradley Walsh
- Claudia Winkleman
- Martin Lewis
- The Chase
- This Morning
- Loose Women
- The Repair Shop
- Clarkson’s Farm
- Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs
- Sort Your Life Out
- The Martin Lewis Money Show Live
- Brenda Blethyn, DCI Vera Stanhope, Vera
- India Amarteifio, Young Queen Charlotte, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story
- James Norton, Tommy Lee Royce, Happy Valley
- Judy Parfitt, Sister Monica Joan, Call the Midwife
- Sarah Lancashire, Catherine Cawood, Happy Valley
The Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award
- Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway
- I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
- The Masked Singer
- Coronation Street
- Louis Theroux Interviews…
- Piers Morgan Uncensored
- The Chris & Rosie Ramsey Show
- The Graham Norton Show
Serial Drama Performance
- Charlotte Jordan, Daisy Midgeley, Coronation Street
- Danielle Harold, Lola Pearce-Brown, EastEnders
- Dominic Brunt, Paddy Kirk, Emmerdale
- Maureen Lipman, Evelyn Plummer, Coronation Street
Quiz Game Show
- Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel
- Richard Osman’s House of Games
- The Chase Celebrity Special
- Benjamin Chivers, Isaac, The Devil’s Hour
- Bobby Brazier, Freddie Slater, EastEnders
- Channique Sterling-Brown, Dee-Dee Bailey, Coronation Street
- Lewis Cope, Nicky Milligan, Emmerdale
- Ted Lasso
- Young Sheldon
‘But now it feels like it’s opened a really great door for other people to do some shows, and now you’ve got comedians doing Strictly, you’ve got comedians doing the jungle, you’ve got comedians doing all sorts of great shows on telly, which traditionally wouldn’t have been done back in the day. It felt like it started something really exciting.’
Joel will become a father for the first time very soon when his wife, model Hannah Cooper, delivers birth.
He shared that they’ve ‘bought everything under the sun’ in preparation for their new arrival, acknowledging that he feels both ‘excited and scared’.
‘It’s going to be a petrifying wonderful month. But if I can come out of September, with a successful baby and a successful NTAs, I can just be like, “We’re alright, we can relax,”’ he said.
‘It weirdly takes the pressure off the NTAs a little bit because all I’ve been thinking about is baby. Hopefully I won’t go up onto the NTAs and sort of lose my mind and end up talking about muslins and things in the opening monologue.’
The National Television Awards 2023 is set to air on Tuesday September 5 from 8pm on ITV1 and ITVX.
You can vote here. Voting closes at midday.