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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Cumbria's gurning king judges celebrity face-off

Cumbria's world champion gurner has been judging celebrities’ face-pulling skills in a new TV show to air next year.

Tommy Mattinson photo
Gurning champion Tommy Mattinson

Fourteen times winner Tommy Mattinson, a builder from Aspatria, has been filming in London this week on a newly commissioned BBC1 show I Love My Country.

The prime time Saturday night show sees two teams of well-known British faces from the worlds of entertainment, music and sport go head-to-head on who knows the UK best.

Tommy said he filmed the pilot edition of the show earlier in the year, when it was fronted by David Walliams. Walliams later quit, saying he was too busy, and has been replaced by Gaby Logan.

“It’s a fun show, everyone was great,” he said. “There are two panels, with captains Frank Skinner and Micky Flanagan and I’m on as a guest.

“I was on the pilot and they got me back after David Walliams left and Gaby Logan took over.”

Tommy was approached by the show to see if he would come on and do some gurning before judging the celebrities’ efforts, he said. “The show is about everything British and they picked up on gurning because, even though it’s a worldwide competition, it’s always held here,” he said.

“I brought the horse collar – which we use in the competition – and they showed a video of me when I met the Queen. They talked to me about gurning then it was a ‘face off.’”

Tommy said he was not allowed to reveal who won, but said he was impressed by the celebrities’ attempts.

“Helen Flanagan, from Coronation Street, went against Dougie Poynter from McFly, then it was Dame Kelly Holmes and Eamonn Holmes, and Martine McCutcheon and athlete Iwan Thomas,” he said.

Team captains Frank Skinner and Micky Flanagan then took a turn, he added.

“They all did quite well,” he said. “One of the girls was really good.”

He said he thought the BBC would air the pilot but it had never made it to the screen since Walliams left. “Then my agent rang to say it had been commissioned and they wanted me back again,” Tommy added.

He said he picked up TV work “now and then” because of his gurning fame and was on Alan Titchmarsh’s afternoon chat show a few weeks ago.

“The celebrities I’ve met have all been great,” he said. “Everyone is approachable and they all like to have a laugh. Gurning’s not a serious thing anyway.

“I really enjoyed filming, it was an absolutely great show.”

I Love My Country is expected to air in March.

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