WIRRAL’S Woerdenweber family have become a familiar sight on Friday night TV. They tell Emma Rigby how their time on Gogglebox has transformed them from your average family to international stars.
They’re the hilarious heavy-metal loving family who we have come to know and love ever since we were first invited into their living room last September.
Vivien, husband Ralf, daughter Eve and her boyfriend Jay have found fame on Channel 4’s hugely popular Googlebox – the show that invites us to watch everyday people watching and commenting on a section of the week’s best - and worst - TV.
Fifty-two-year-old Vivien and German Ralf, aged 51, welcomed me into their Tranmere home with open arms, revealing what really goes on behind the cameras, how they came to be involved with the show and what it is like to be nominated for a BAFTA alongside the likes of Doctor Who and Breaking Bad.
Gogglebox first blasted onto our screens in 2013 with its unusual concept which has grabbed the hearts of the nation.
Its success was cemented following its move from Wednesday to a Friday primetime slot with the third series pulling in more than three million viewers each week.
The Woerdenwebers have made quite an impact since they first took to the air during the second series of the cult-viewing show after Viv was approached by producers at work.
“They asked if we wanted to take part in the show and I said I didn’t think so. But my daughter Eve was in the shop at the time and she’s studying drama at university,” explained Viv.
“She asked if we could try it because she wanted to learn more about production.
“They came around and gave us a screen test which they phoned to say had gone very well.
“I hid behind a cushion at the start but now it’s just normal, it’s part of our routine.”
Gogglebox has become such a part of everyday life for the Woerdenwebers that they say when filming stops between series, they don’t know what to do.
Most people who watch the show will know the family best for Eve’s boyfriend, 22-year-old Jay.
Sadly I was not given the pleasure of meeting the illustrious “Silent Jay” as he has come to be known but I was assured that although he does part with the occasional comment, he is a man of very few words.
“When we first started filming Jay was very shy and very camera shy,” explained Viv, who spends her days running the Birkenhead market-based family business Twilight - a shop stocking everything from incense oils to dragons, fairies and gothic items.
“He mutters things to Eve but he doesn’t really speak when we’re all together – he doesn’t have a lot to say.”
Ralf, who met Viv in a Liverpool biker bar in 2007, said: “You don’t realise he is here sometimes and one of the reasons to watch the show now is to see if Jay will speak. He has turned it into a positive thing.”
Many have criticised the show for being scripted but Viv and Ralf insist that this is not the case.
“There is no way you can script it,” said Viv, who counts NCIS, Britain’s Got Talent, X Factor, wildlife and history programmes to be some of the family’s favourites.
“We’re in here on our own, the crew are in a different room so we are watching the TV together and we’re just commenting as we normally would as a family.”
Ralf, who works for German engineering and electronics company Bosch and plays drums in band Civilian Zen – a cross between Hawkwind and Pink Floyd - added: “I can speak English but I can’t read it so I couldn’t read a script – it’s a joke.
“I can’t explain what I’m doing, I’m just doing it – that’s our real reaction.”
The show is filmed between two and three nights each week and despite the six-hour sessions taking place on top of the family’s working day, they say it doesn’t feel like work, as they enjoy it.
“The show has all of these different characters and people can identify themselves with them. They watch it and realise they react like that too.
"They identify themselves with it and that for me is a real honour,” said Ralf.
Viv added: “Each family brings something different to the show.”
Being part in a show as popular as Gogglebox means it is hard for the Woerdenwebers to go a day without being recognised, whether it’s as they shop for groceries in Asda or catch a train to Liverpool, the family of four are constantly being asked for photographs and autographs.
“I flew to Germany last week and in Manchester, Munich, Stuttgart and Frankfurt and I was recognised at every airport – the woman on passport control asked for a photo with me,” said Ralf.
“It’s nice because it’s like if I’ve done a CD and someone asks me to sign it, it’s because of something I’ve done – I’m really proud of what we’re doing on Gogglebox.”
Stars of the show will be hoping for success in this year’s BAFTA, with Gogglebox nominated for the Radio Times Audience Award.
Ralf said: “I’m really proud of what we are doing and I can’t believe that we’re up for an award against big shows like Doctor Who. It is an honour to be recognised like that.”
This Friday’s episode is the penultimate in the third series and although plans for a fourth are yet to be discussed, Viv and Ralf said they would be delighted to be a part of it if given the chance.
For now though, the Woerdenwebers are looking forward to their final days of filming ahead of what promises to be a hilarious final two shows.