AN INTERVIEW WITH JENNY RYAN

Jenny Ryan The Chase

AN INTERVIEW WITH JENNY RYAN

AN INTERVIEW WITH JENNY RYAN

Added 86 days ago. 7 December 2023

We love a good quiz at Wiltshire Farm Foods! So we were very excited to chat to The Chase’s Jenny Ryan, a.k.a. The Vixen, to find out more about her love of quizzes, Christmas, and how the two combine!

Jenny’s love of quizzing started at a very early age

My family is really into quizzes. It’s our common hobby, but the main person who drummed it into us was my grandad. He taught me reading, writing, and maths - but also quizzes. Sitting on his knee and watching Going for Gold with him - it’s one of the first things I can remember.

Jenny Bond

Jenny’s quizzing career began behind the scenes…

I worked as a question writer on shows like The Weakest Link and QI, but it was quizzing as a hobby for my whole life that led me to The Chase. Recruiting Anne Hegerty, aka The Governess, onto my quiz team at a local pub quiz league in Bolton was a turning point. One day, she told me the producers were looking for a new Chaser. She put my name forward and - I’d like to say the rest is history - but it wasn’t that easy!

Jenny had to do six months’ worth of auditions!

I had to do a general knowledge test every week and go through all sorts of meetings, auditions, and screen tests – including a test for on-screen chemistry with Bradley Walsh. It’s like when they’re choosing a new Doctor Who or landlady of the Queen Vic; it’s a big decision, so the producers have to get it right, but it’s my dream job.

She explains the origin of her nickname…  The Vixen

For each of my auditions, I wore some kind of leopard print, so the producers decided that I should have an animal nickname. Their original idea was The Cougar, which has other connotations! Then, Bradley Walsh came up with The Vixen, because of my red hair, and foxes are clever and cunning. The producers immediately said: “That’s a fantastic idea, we’re going with it!”.

She and her fellow Chasers continually brush up their knowledge

There’s so much new every single day. We watch the news, keep up to date with sport, politics, what’s in the pop charts, in the soaps. Everything is potentially a question! Then, we keep on top of the classic general knowledge, so we’re always learning and practising. Most of us still take part in quiz leagues to keep our brains sharp. It’s as much about being able to recall the information under pressure. 

Host Bradley Walsh has been a great supporter

He’s been kind and generous from the moment I walked on set, like a mentor, and we often have a bit of a giggle. On my first day of recording, I was the most nervous I’ve ever been and he made a point of telling me about his first day on set, working with Bob Monkhouse. He passed on Bob’s words of wisdom to him: ‘Brad, stop worrying because you’ve already got the job’. He was basically saying, the hard bit was getting the job and now,  I can enjoy it. 

Jenny is no stranger to stage and screen; she was a finalist on X-Factor: Celebrity 2019, and appeared on Mastermind and Celebrity Masterchef to name a few

I do love performing. Getting onto the stage is scary, but once I’m out there, I get a real buzz. Performing in front of a live audience gives you a real thrill - that immediate response and validation. I can see why pop singers carry on touring for decades! It brings me a lot of joy and, hopefully, it brings the audience joy as well. 

This Christmas Jenny’s going to be gracing a different sort of stage!

I’m playing The Wicked Queen in Snow White at the Darlington Hippodrome, alongside Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates. Typecasting a little bit, playing the villain, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! It’s such a brilliant experience - it’s a big part of Christmas for so many families. It’s a multi-generational thing and the kids’ first taste of theatre as well, which is so important.

Panto life will be affecting her Christmas plans however…

This year, it’s going to be just me and my parents. They’re driving up to spend Christmas Day, my one day off, with me. We’re very traditional. We like our turkey, lots of lovely sides. If my mum’s doing the cooking, I look forward to lashings of mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, and she even cooks Brussels sprouts, just for me, because I’m the only person that likes them. 

The Chase NTA Awards

Her usual Christmas involves – you’ve guessed it – quizzing!

We have a great big Boxing Day because there are too many of us now to have a sit-down meal in one house on the 25th. We’re big on Christmas; the food, mixing drinks, but especially the after-dinner games! My auntie devises a very complicated series of games, because we know that we’ve all got very different strengths and we’re all very competitive. We switch teams every round and we have a big scoring system. It takes all afternoon and all evening. I usually win - but not by much!

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