I like to watch other people fall down. It’s just funny. And don’t think I’m above falling myself. As a matter of fact, it happens frequently, and I know others enjoy it. It’s that simple principle that has led ABC’s Wipeout to summertime success. Contestants take on different obstacle courses in an effort to knock out the competition and win the $50,000 grand prize. The new season premieres tonight, and with 60 obstacles added to the course, there will be no shortage of falls. Host Jill Wagner took some time to answer some questions about the show, and share her behind-the-scenes secrets.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why do you think the show has been so successful?
JILL WAGNER: I think that people love Wipeout simply because it’s just plain, simple fun. Falling down — I mean, I know you probably laugh when you see people fall down, as long as they don’t get hurt. It’s the same thing with Wipeout. It’s never going to get old. I think that kids really love it, and it’s a really good family show. It’s nice to see something that you can sit down with your kids and watch them laugh and also laugh as well.
What’s the worst wipeout you’ve seen on the show?
That [answer] would take entirely too long. There’s like a billion. It seems like every day I go out, I’m like, “Okay, it’s not going to get worse today. It can’t get any worse.” And then it does. I mean people surprise me, though. People’s bodies can bend in ways that I never thought they could unless they had been drinking, and they haven’t been drinking. It’s a little bit of Wipeout madness. It’s crazy.
How do you keep a straight face when hosting?
I can’t. I really try to keep a straight face, but it’s impossible. I challenge anyone to come down and do my job and keep a straight face. It’s absolutely impossible.
What’s your favorite Wipeout obstacle?
I think it’s always going to be the big red balls, but we’ve added something to it this year. There are a lot of different things that have changed, but I still revert to the big red balls trick. It’s just funny. The thing about it this year is we have a hidden motivator, which is, well, hidden. So that can be a lot of fun. I’m sure it’s not for the contestants, but for all of the viewers at home, it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Have you ever been through one of the obstacle courses? Would you consider doing one?
Lord no! I think I might want to try the obstacle course with the cameras off, but there would always be some camera. They’re always going to catch me doing it. It’s a lot more intimidating than it looks on the television screen, I can tell you that. Once you get on the course, it’s a lot bigger and scarier.
What might people not know about the show?
I bet people don’t know that we bet on the contestants. It’s probably not [allowed], but we do. I definitely always win. I’m really good at picking the winner. At first, I think I just normally gravitated toward the guy or woman who looked like an Olympic trainer, but now I just kind of pick the awkward gangly ones. They tend to do better than the athletic ones.
What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened while filming?
We were filming and all of the sudden these cows just came out of the woods. I thought they were a part of the set, so I was going to go up to them and start messing with them. But they were like, “No, Jill. Don’t mess with the cows. They aren’t supposed to be here.” We had to get some people to wrangle them. A lot of people don’t know that the set is on a big ranch. There are all kinds of different animals.
What kind of animals?
Well there are bees that cover that place. Every time I get out there, I’m deathly afraid of bees. So that’s all I do is I just run away from bees the whole time I’m trying to interview. In the middle of my interview, I’ll just run away from the person. It’s really not professional.