1705124666 Roberto Leal When Rosa told me to pull the stick

Roberto Leal: “When Rosa told me to pull the stick out of my ass in 'OT', she was right. Now the moderators are still one of the viewers.”

Pepe Navarro said this Thursday after the presentation of The Challenge, the show that has him as a surprise newcomer for the fourth season, that the way generalist networks have to compete with the new digital windows is to have charismatic faces that build a brand identity with exciting content. For Antena 3, Roberto Leal (Alcalá de Guadaira, Seville, 44 years old) is the current entertainment ambassador. In addition to his infallible pasapalabra, which attracts millions of viewers every evening to the evening news program of Vicente Vallés, the presenter is responsible for continuing to control the competition that this week proposes extreme tests to eight famous personalities. This time Navarro himself dares to do it together with Mar Flores, Chenoa, Mónica Cruz, Marta Díaz, Adrián Lastra, Mario Vaquerizo and Pablo Castellano.

After completing a third season on the rise, with an average screen share of 18.6% on Friday nights, the space returns on the same schedule and is aware of its strengths. For this reason, some of the tests are being recreated but adapted and made even larger to maintain what works and at the same time make the viewer feel like they are seeing something new, Leal tells this newspaper at Antena 3 headquarters. “We have proven “That everything that is vertical – tests at height and a head for heights – works with fire or with tension against the clock,” says the presenter, who tries to show real empathy for the participants so that they know what they want Experience goes beyond the screen. “In this program, I don’t suppress emotions or think I’m ruining a shot if I hug someone,” he says.

The participants have to perform surprising acrobatics, pass an apnea test for as long as possible or sing like a music star. Santiago Segura, Juan del Val and Pilar Rubio rate their performance again. It's the sign of the times on television. And especially in this season full of competition formats with celebrities. The viewer can see Adrián Lastra on Fridays on Antena 3 and on Saturday evenings on another channel, Telecinco, in Dancing with the Stars by Jesús Vázquez and Valeria Mazza. Would The Challenge work with anonymous people? “I want it to be done with children and adapt to their capabilities. But celebrities generate closeness because many viewers know them and know some aspects of their lives. No matter how much you like them, you identify with them when we get them in trouble. And they give you the opportunity to create a story arc with them. They come with a public image and at the end of the show they often show different sides of their personality,” explains the Sevillian.

Now the presenters (or singers or actors) switch between roles in each format. Sometimes they are participants, judges or masters of ceremonies. Even Leal will soon change the registration when Atresmedia adapts an original German format: Beat the Channel. In it, Iñaki López (Better Late) and the Sevillian presenter face off in various physical and mental tests. The curious prize for the winner is to get 15 extra minutes of prime time on Antena 3. The premise of the show, titled “López y Leal contra el canal,” announces that the winner can do whatever they want with them. Maybe you decide to give a monologue, invent a contest, interview a family member, or hold a mini-concert. Whoever loses has to perform a function other than that of moderator for a whole day, be it in the Atresmedia cafeteria or as a maintenance staff.

Roberto Leal on the set of “Pasapalabra”.Roberto Leal on the set of “Pasapalabra.” Atresmedia

Roberto Leal agrees with Pepe Navarro that general television networks can coexist with new consumption patterns if they look for new formulas. This López y Leal against the channel is an attempt to adapt to current trends while creating a brand that involves several professionals from the Atresmedia group. It also allows him to make up for all the times he would have liked to do one of the tests in The Challenge, he admits. “People will discover an Iñaki López who is an entertainment animal,” warns the Andalusian. “Previously, presenters were portrayed almost as deities. Now you are one more. When you fall, laugh or cry, you have a more natural and intimate relationship with the viewer. In these times we are forced to be brave and at least try new things. My background is in breaking news production, but since they gave me the opportunity to participate in Operación Triunfo, I give every format that comes my way a chance, no matter how crazy it may seem,” he says.

Different windows

“All major chains have a digital platform on which they can test new ideas,” he emphasizes. He made it to Atresplayer last fall with his own production company Blondloyal and his mother Mercedes Guillén. In “Casafantasmas” the two traveled through Spain and visited the places where the most striking paranormal legends are located. They were accompanied by Josep Guijarro, ufologist and mediator of mysteries in a strange mix of genres between comedy and fear, which those responsible for the program dubbed “Misterimor”. The journalist realizes that the format had a reason to appear on a screen like Atresplayer's.

With the premiere of Operación Triunfo on Prime Video, where Leal passed the hosting baton to Chenoa, the platforms have now achieved the appeal of live broadcasting, which stands out from traditional broadcasters. “When they asked me who I wanted to replace, I mentioned their name long before it was decided. “It’s a decision that everyone understood,” defends Leal, precisely because the audience knows and appreciates the intrastory behind the former participant of the show. “The first gala I saw at my house, I was almost as nervous as she was,” he remembers. On the day he debuted in Operación Triunfo in 2017, Rosa López told him live that she had to “get the stick out of her ass,” a moment for which she often apologized, the presenter reveals. “You have no reason to apologize. He was right. She knew me outside of TV and knew I could enjoy it more. It’s also the advice my mom gave me the first day she saw me, to be more natural and not just focus on getting it right from a technical perspective.”

This familiar tone, this homely warmth that traditional shows like Pasapalabra or La roulette de laluck convey cannot compete with new screens, argues the presenter. “It's like comparing a date on Tinder or another new app to meeting your lifelong friends,” he defends.

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