John Byrne catches up with Irish Chaser Darragh Ennis ahead of the new season of the popular quiz show Beat The Chasers. Here's just some of what he had to say.

Let’s get one thing straight from the start: Darragh Ennis is a lovely bloke. He’s also a complete quiz nerd - but that’s his nighttime thing, because by day he’s a scientist.

There’s so much to this guy it’s ridiculous. He’s got more parts than a Star Wars Millennium Falcon Lego set.

But to you and me and many TV viewers, he’s The Menace, the Irish quiz king on The Chase and Beat The Chasers.

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Darragh famously first appeared as a contestant on The Chase in 2017. He was so impressive, the people behind the show brought him onboard last year and he’s proving to be one of the toughest Chasers to beat.

The long-running show, hosted by Bradley Walsh, returns for a new season on Virgin Media One in September. Along with Mark Labbett, Shaun Wallace, Anne Hegerty, Paul Sinha, Jenny Ryan, Darragh’s back to stand between contestants and a big pile of money.

So it’s a good time to get a few words from the man himself. An affable Dubliner, who lives with his family in Oxford, he can talk for Ireland. Which is great, because I’m a pretty good listener.

Here are just some of the topics he touched . . .

On Bradley Walsh

"We’ve got audiences back - which is brilliant. And they got to see what it’s really like, because about 90% of what Brad says doesn’t get broadcast. Well, that man is genuinely, really hilarious.

"And it’s not put on. It’s not all scripted. He’s very very quick and very funny. He gets the whole lot of us involved, and the audience join in.

"We all get along with Brad. Sometimes he’s poking a lot of fun at us and it seems like we’re getting mad - but it’s not like that. It’s a lovely relationship and I really like the man. We get on really well."

On being a scientist

"I work in the biochemistry department. I work in a fly neuroscience lab. We’re working on trying to understand how brains work, and how memories are made. But on a molecular level.

"Recently we pivoted to working on Covid because everyone was told they weren’t allowed to go back into the labs. We applied our methods, and we published a paper with friends of ours, where we identified over 200 potential drug targets for the coronavirus.

"It’s to try and give a kickstart to more research, so that next time this happens, we’ll be better prepared. It’s not just for vaccines, but for anti-virals. To see if common anti-virals now, can potentially be used against coronavirus, basically."

On being a 'mean’ Chaser

"It’s a pantomime, really. One thing is that I don’t have to be too mean as my persona on the show is relatively friendly. I’m told to generally be myself.

I think only a small number of people watching would think that it’s real. We’re not really all that mean, to be honest. I have a lot more empathy because I was a contestant, I think, but we all realise that people are coming on here in front of camera for the first time. And it’s very intimidating.

"So it’s all part of the show to be mean to the contestants, but we’re not really . . ."

On being a quiz addict

"I do quizzing all the time. And we do competitive quizzing, against proper, real quizzers. Anne and Paul are very good at competitive quizzes, and Jenny. I’m middle of the road. I’m actually not that good.

"But I don’t feel the pressure, I don’t care about the money or anything like that, so I think that’s my big advantage. I just go and I try and answer question, basically. And if I win, I win. And if I lose, I’ll be mad. But I’ll get over it.

"We all work really, really hard at this. We learn lists and we read books but, most of all, we do tons of quizes. And we get asked things that just pop up all the time.

"I’m on five quiz teams - well, in five different leagues. I do some of the individually. I’m on one of the Irish teams, I’m on two teams in Oxford, I do two individual quizzes."

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On keeping his private life private

"Very, very deliberately, I’ve been keeping my family out of the limelight. My wife doesn’t want it. I don’t share photos of my children, or anything like that.

"No one knows what they look like, or what their names are, or anything like that. That’s deliberate.

"So part of the deal of me taking this job was that would happen. My wife does not want anyone to know who she is, and I’m perfectly fine with that. So I have a sort-of split life.

"I’ve an online presence and a TV presence, and that’s very separate from my family life. And I’m going to keep it that way."

Darragh Ennis was speaking at the Virgin Media Television New Season Launch ahead of the return of Beat The Chasers on September 18