Why The Chasers’ got their nicknames and ‘offensive’ alternatives they turned down


Once The Chasers step into that studio they become different people.

Britain’s brightest brains transform into their characters when they take on the terrified contestants on The Chase – with each having a brilliant nickname.

Most of the names were given to The Chasers by hilarious host Bradley Walsh, who is clearly very gifted in that department.

He even came up with an alternative for one Chaser was not happy with there nickname.

One of the names has a very clever meaning, another was made more ‘kinky’, while a different one was at the centre of a scandal and changed for different international versions of the show.

Here is how The Chasers all got their nicknames.

Jenny Ryan – The Vixen



Jenny turned down her original nickname

 

Boffin Jenny Ryan wasn’t actually supposed to be called The Vixen.

Jenny was originally going to be called the much more raunchy The Cougar, but told show bosses that it felt a bit much.

“When I first started I had a test run, a bit of a screen test in the studio with Brad hosting,” she told Lorraine Kelly earlier this month.

“Just as a chemistry kind of test really. And I had my hair in this big ponytail.

“The producers had been trying to work out what my nickname should be, and they wanted something animal-y because I like a lot of animal print.

“And they suggested ‘The Cougar’, and I said, ‘no, because I’m too young to be a cougar’.”



Bradley is responsible for a lot of the nicknames
Bradley is responsible for a lot of the nicknames

It was Bradley that came to Jenny’s rescue and came up with a much-improved alternative.

She continued: “Brad came up with ‘The Vixen’, because of the red hair, it looks like a fox’s brush.

“And foxes are really intelligent animals and really cunning, and could be quite fast.”

Also known as ‘The Bolton Braniac’, Jenny helped Leeds University make it to the semi-finals on University Challenge in 2003.

Shaun Wallace – The Dark Destroyer



Shaun Wallace on The Chase
Shaun is proud of hi Dark Destroyer nickname

 

Once again it was Bradley Walsh who came up with the nickname for his good pal Shaun Wallace.

Shaun is known as The Dark Destroyer on The Chase, which he explained is because he destroys people with his intelligence.

However, the name has been shortened to just ‘The Destroyer’ when he appears in the Australian and New Zealand version of the show.

Shaun defended his nickname after it came under fire and insisted there was no malice or offense behind it.

The barrister doesn’t want the name to be changed by ITV as he is proud to be called The Dark Destroyer.



Shaun does have a fun side when he's not destroying contestants
Shaun does have a fun side when he’s not destroying contestants

“It was actually Bradley who started to call me the Dark Destroyer, and there was absolutely no side or sinister reason behind it,” he told The Sun on Sunday in July last year.

“So no, Britain may be less PC, but guess what? I am proud to be black.

“If ITV were to ask me, or consider changing it, then I would tell them this, ‘I am proud to be black, I am proud to be dark. I want the name to stay as it is’. 

“And because of my intellect — and I destroy people because of my intellect — then so be it. That’s the way I use the term the Dark Destroyer, and I am not offended. And I hope other people aren’t offended either.”

Due to his successful career in the courtroom, Shaun is also known as The Barrister and The Legal Eagle.

In 2004 he won Mastermind with the chosen specialist subject of FA Cup Finals, so he has also ben called The Mastermind Champ.

Mark Labbett – The Beast



The fearsome Beast is really a big softy
The fearsome Beast is really a big softy

 

Everyone assumed Mark Labbett was called The Beast because of his towering 6ft 7in height and imposing stance.

While co-star Paul Sinha explained that his nickname was down to how he interacts with hopefuls on the show.

“He scares the bejesus out of the contestants so we call him The Beast,” he said on This Morning.

However, some smart fans have worked out there is an incredibly clever meaning behind his nickname.

Viewers had their minds blown when it was revealed that “La Bête” is French for The Beast.

This nickname has spawned many others, including Beastie Boy, The Transatlantic Giant and The Bad Boy of Quizzing.

Due to Mark’s background as a Maths supply teacher, Mark has also been called The Man Mountain of Maths.

Anne Hegerty – The Governess



The Governess strikes fear into contestants
The Governess strikes fear into contestants

Anne was supposed to be called The Headmistress after being given the name by show bosses.

But she was given a slightly different name by Bradley Walsh during rehearsals which stuck.

Anne asked the producers to keep the new name because it was ‘kinkier’.

“Originally I was going to be called The Headmistress,” she said on Loose Women in 2015.

“And then during rehearsals Brad started occasionally referring to me as The Governess.

“I said to producers ‘Could I be that instead?’ and I think what I said to them was ‘it’s more kinky’.”



Anne wanted her name to be kinkier
Anne wanted her name to be kinkier

She added: “What I meant was that the headmistress has always got a board of governors and Ofsted and she can’t do everything she wants; a governess is a free agent.”

Anne had actually intended to make The Governess even scarier than she already is.

The writer and former journalist originally saw her character as a combination of Daphne Fowler from Eggheads, Caroline Aherne from Mrs Merton and Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter films.

Anne is also regularly called Frosty Knickers by Bradley due to her cold demeanour with contestants.

Paul Sinha – The Sinnerman



The Sinnerman is known for his white suits
The Sinnerman is known for his white suits

 

Paul, who is a fully qualified doctor, could have had a name relating to his profession.

But he is known as The Sinnerman on The Chase, which is clever play on his surname.

Paul has also been referred to as The Smiling Assassin and Sarcasm in a Suit by host Bradley Walsh on the show.

The stand-up comedian has also mercilessly poked fun at the nicknames used on The Chase while performing his routines.

During one comedy gig in London back in 2019, Paul said: “In 2011, I landed myself the dream job on the enduringly popular ITV quiz show The Chase.



The comedian took a brutal swipe at the nicknames
The comedian took a brutal swipe at the nicknames

“I am the t**t in the white suit. I have two nicknames, they are the Sinnerman and the Smiling Assassin.

“I don’t mind as the other Chasers are called the Vixen, the Dark Destroyer, the Governess, the Beast.”

Paul then made a brutal swipe at his fellow Chasers, referencing the fact that Mark Labbett married his own cousin Katie.

He added: “Anne Hegerty is called The Governess because she is bossy and cruel, and Mark Labbett is known as the Beast because he is f***ing his cousin. It is a distant cousin.

“Spare a thought for Shaun Wallace. He has been a barrister for 30 years and what do they call him? The Dark Destroyer?”

Darragh Ennis – The Menace



Darragh got bosses to change his nickname
Darragh got bosses to change his nickname

This one is quite simple to understand as it rhymes and is also a link to Beano character Dennis The Menace.

Another nickname used for the Irish quizzer is The Dublin Dynamo because of where he comes from.

Darragh only discovered what he was going to be called while waiting to go onto the show as a Chaser for the first time.

However, it wasn’t the moniker that show bosses has originally planned for the new Chaser.

The neuroscientist has worked at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth in the country of his birth and at Concordia University in Montreal.



Darragh was previously a contestant on the show
Darragh was previously a contestant on the show

Darragh has a very interesting job right now as he’s currently studying the brains of insects as a postdoctoral researcher at Oxford University, alongside his duties on The Chase.

Show bosses wanted to call him ‘The Professor’ due to his university background, but Darragh blocked the idea as he felt he had not earned the prestigious title.

“I work in the university here in Oxford and that’s a title [professor] that you really have to earn and I think people would be very annoyed if I started calling myself the Professor,” he said on This Morning back in November.

“So I said I didn’t want that but they didn’t tell me what my name would be until I was on set. I was on stage, waiting to go on when I first heard.”

*The Chase airs tonight on ITV at 5pm and The Chasers Road Trip later on ITV at 9pm



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