‘The Wheel’ host on new NBC game show’s ‘insane ear candy’ theme music


America is about to get its first big spin of hit UK game show “The Wheel,” which takes over NBC’s primetime weeknight schedule for two consecutive weeks starting Monday, Dec. 19.

Its launch is reminiscent of ABC’s premiere of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” — based on the British series — which aired for two consecutive weeks, with host Regis Philbin, in August 1999 (the rest is history).

“The Wheel,” created and hosted by exuberant English comedian Michael McIntyre, mixes trivia, celebrities and chance as contestants vie for over $100,00 — at the whim of a 42-foot spinning wheel.

“It’s very much a sort of entertainment/quiz show,” McIntyre, 46, told The Post. “My fellow producer calls it ‘quint-etainment,’ which a phrase he’s trying to coin but I’m not sure it’s catching on.

“It’s like a human roulette wheel,” he said. “I liked the idea of people spinning around and it’s completely random with six celebrities helping [the contestants] answer questions. Every celebrity brings a category that they claim to be an expert in, but it’s only a one-in-six chance that you’re going to get them to help you. There’s also a ‘Danger Zone’ so that for every spin one of the celebrities shuts you down, so if you land on them you’re off the wheel … but you can pop back up, so it’s all about trying to stay there and cling to control of the wheel until the end.”

Michael McIntyre on the set of "The Wheel." He's wearing a dark suit jacket and a blue shirt and has his arms stretched out in front of him as he greets the audience.
British comedian Michael McIntyre created and hosts “The Wheel,” airing on NBC for two consecutive weeks starting Monday, Dec. 19.
Chris Haston/NBC

The Dec. 19 series premiere features celebrities Christina Ricci, Amber Ruffin, Mark McGrath, Cat Cora, Todrick Hall and Steve Kornacki; future episodes include Chrissy Metz, Loni Love, Chris Kattan, Clay Aiken, Jalen Rose and Margaret Cho (among many others).

“The idea [for the contestants] is to stay there and clear the wheel of all the categories, and then try to cash out at the bank in the end,” McIntyre said. “We rank the celebrities according to the strongest and the weakest [re: trivia] and if you play the strongest celebrity you play for the least amount of money and vice versa.

“As you’re playing the game … it becomes very captivating and engrossing and ultimately very dramatic,” he said. “A lot of times the celebrities are talking the contestants out of [their answer] but the contestant gets nervous and starts to rely on someone they shouldn’t — someone who states, very early on, ‘I don’t know the answer.’ There’s something in people that they think, ‘If I just go with them, then it’s not on me.’

“It’s that mixture of luck and skill and I think it’s just right.”

McIntyre, a popular standup comedian in Britain, was a judge on “Britain’s Got Talent” and has hosted and starred in a slew of TV shows, including his BAFTA-winning “Michael McIntyre’s Big Show.”

A photo from an episode of "The Wheel" shows Taye Diggs and a contestant seated in chairs on the show's set, with host Michael McIntyre sitting down with his legs crossed and his hands clasped in front of him like he's praying for good luck.
Taye Diggs, Michael McIntyre and contestant Angelica on an upcoming episode of “The Wheel.”
Chris Haston/NBC

He launched “The Wheel” on BBC One in November 2020 and, thus far, it’s aired for three seasons.

“NBC bought it very quickly, maybe after one or two shows, and that was in lockdown,” he said, referring to the pandemic and, tongue-in-cheek to restrictions on TV viewers during that time. “It was going great, but it was illegal to leave the house, so the ratings were certainly artificially high. But now we’re out of lockdown and the ratings are even higher [in the UK], so it’s gone really well.”

McIntyre said he had one rule, first and foremost, when he created “The Wheel.”

“It’s an easy game and it’s easy to understand, which are always the best game shows. People don’t have the patience for instructions, I certainly don’t, and that’s genuinely why I tried to invent a game show,” he said. “‘Millionaire’ was the last big one that really shook things up so I thought I’d try to come up with one that doesn’t need a lengthy explanation. he said. “There is an explanation in the American version which I fought hard not to have.”

And, McIntyre said, “The Wheel” has one big secret weapon that’s helped its popularity in the UK.

Photo of a contestant named Jane seated in her chair on "The Wheel" with celebrity Christina Ricci, who's in a chair alongside her, looking on. The name "JANE" is in capital letters across the top.
Jane, a contestant, and Christina Ricci on an episode of “The Wheel.”
Chris Haston/NBC

“We’re very fortunate to have a very catchy theme tune. Right off the bat people fell in love with the music,” he said. “The ear candy is insane. There’s only one lyric, which is ‘The Wheel,’ but it seems enough.

“I went to a soccer game a few months ago with my son, who’s 14 now but was 13 then,” he said. “The hostility [at UK games] is off the scales and there were these two men and they were literally screaming obscenities. They were from opposing teams, one from my team and one from Manchester United.

“They were screaming and about to have a fight and I was quite frightened but had to get past them to the car and I was holding my son’s hand and trying to squirrel past them,” he said. “As I was passing them they both turned around and looked at me and in unison went, ‘The Wheel,’ and starting singing the theme song — and then went back to fighting.”

“The Wheel” will air weeknights on NBC Dec. 19-23 (10-11 p.m.) and Dec. 26-30 (8-9 p.m.)

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