SANDRA Martin describes Gogglebox as the “best job ever”. But after five years filming on her famous sofa, the reality star admits it became “boring”.
Now she’s revealed what the popular TV show is really like behind the scenes, from pay to hours spent in front of the camera.
Sandra Martin was on Gogglebox for five years, from its launch until 2017Credit: Rex Features
After her co-star Sandi Bogle quit, Sandra (right) followed suitCredit: Channel 4
Sandra was part of the original Gogglebox cast when it launched in 2013, filming in her South London flat alongside pal Sandi Bogle, who quit in 2016.
Speaking to Fabulous thanks to I Am The Queen Bee, the 59-year-old says: “When Gogglebox found me in Brixton, I was just in the right place at the right time.
“But I did well and I met the Queen, David Beckham and Joan Collins. I enjoyed it, I coped with the fame very well.
“What Gogglebox gave me was a big platform. Since 2017, I’ve done 100 Years Younger in 21 days, pantomime, Loose Women and Good Morning Britain.
“I’ve just done a show with Sam Bailey (judging Amazon Prime series Now That’s Entertainment) and now I’ve got a new job for Channel 5, called Help My Cat is Trans.
“Gogglebox is an easy job. It’s the best job ever. But it was boring at some points.”
The larger-than-life gran was one of Gogglebox’s most popular stars. After Sandi left in 2016, Sandra filmed with her daughter Sanchez before following suit a year later, admitting it wasn’t the same.
She says: “It was nice in the Gogglebox family. The crew would leave their stuff in my home for two days, millions of pounds worth of equipment, they trusted me.
“We had a laugh, we had fun. Imagine being sat down to eat and watch telly, two days a week, and then I got paid for the whole week.
“Money was good, I blew the money, but I looked after my children and my friends, made sure everyone was happy. I’m not money orientated.
“People know me from Gogglebox. When I get on the trains now, I don’t have to sit in standard, I just give the guard a selfie and he sits me in first class.
“It happens regularly. They say ‘oh my God it’s you, have a free drink’. I don’t get free clothes or anything but I get little things, like a cup of tea.”
Money was good, I blew the money, but I looked after my children and my friends, made sure everyone was happy
Sandra and Sandi would watch eight hours of TV-a-week, over two evenings, with that whittled down to a few minutes of the one-hour show.
She says: “They’d come at 2pm or 4pm, set up the equipment by 6pm and by 10pm they’re out.
“It was easy in-and-out job. But when I watch them doing the show now, I think ‘boring’. You can’t do any other shows. That’s why me and Sandi, Scarlett (Moffatt), Steph and Dom all left.”
Among the perks of filming were two free dinners a week and a runner to tailor to your every need.
Sandra says: “The crew would buy me takeaway every night and they’d have takeaway too. We had all the menu leaflets – KFC, Burger King, Chinese, McDonald’s.
“We had a runner who gets everything we want, although we didn’t take the p**s, he was our friend. There was a camera man, a sound man, five people in total.
“They were all in my bedroom while we film, with the equipment. Then it would be me and Sandi sat in the front room with one little camera and a mic, that was it.
“They never told me what to say, I can’t do a script. It was a real show. Channel 4 looked after me because I was the best thing since sliced bread.
“I’m not showing off but I did make the show. Everyone knows Gogglebox through me. I’m naturally funny.
“There’s no need in me hiding it, I can boast about it now, because everyone says they stopped watching Gogglebox because of me (leaving), I hear it every day.”
Channel 4 looked after me because I was the best thing since sliced bread. I’m not showing off but I did make the show. Everyone knows Gogglebox through me
Gogglebox’s 18th series aired in September this year, with around 4 millions Brits tuning into the cult show.
Although she found filming dull in the end, Sandra is just as “addicted to TV” as ever.
The mum-of-four leaves her “phone locked off” every night between 7pm and 9pm, while she watches back-to-back episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders and Coronation Street.
She says: “I don’t know how much I got paid for Gogglebox because I let an accountant control my money, I was so overwhelmed. I’d just come off benefits, I didn’t know what was going on.
“All I know is, Channel 4 paid my rent, council tax, water, electric, tax, TV license, all my bills, and I still had £400-a-week for food and stuff like getting my nails done.
“It wasn’t millions of pounds but I did good. I never knew my fixed wage, even now I haven’t got the contract. You get odd jobs too, sofa adverts, I got paid £10,000 for one of those.”
Sandra, pictured at a premiere last week, is now back on benefits and living in social housingCredit: Getty
Small screen fame changed Sandra’s life, allowing her to leave social housing for a private rental and stop claiming benefits.
But the celeb, who previously worked as a Big Issue seller and served a six-month jail term for fraud 37 years ago, says: “I ended up homeless and penniless after Gogglebox.
“In February 2018, I was totally broke. I went to the benefits office and said ‘I’m home’. They were shocked to see me.
“Before Gogglebox, I was living in a council property for five years. In October 2018, they gave me another flat in an old people’s home, in Hastings and then Birmingham.
“But during Covid, I started to see a lot of body bags coming out of my old people’s home.
“So I said to myself ‘you know what? I’m running to London’, to my two brothers (one of whom sadly died of cancer earlier this month) and my four kids. I moved back in February 2019.”
I ended up homeless and penniless after Gogglebox. I didn’t want to go back on benefits but I had to, I had to live
And Sandra is determined she will turn her fortunes around once again.
She says: “Things are looking up. I’ve been offered opportunities and once money has been exchanged, I can come off social, because I’m gagging to.
“I didn’t want to go back on benefits but I had to, I had to live. I’m doing alright, I’m really happy, I’ve just got to wait, these things take time.
“I’m still on TV now, I’m still famous, I’m still a celebrity. I went to the NTA Awards, I go to premiers, I still get invitations, I have a big platform.”
Sandra still lives a celeb life, attending the NTAs and getting contracts for new showsCredit: Getty
Sandra now does daily Facebook Lives, which sometimes go on for hours or take place four times-a-day, so she can give her fans pep talks and “local gossip”.
She says: “I’ve got a good set of fans, they send me nice presents.
“I get spotted every day. People come to me and say ‘Sandra, we love you’. I love it. I’ve even got a tattoo saying ‘Sandra Gogglebox’.
“When I left, Channel 4 said ‘please stay, don’t go’ and I said ‘no I’m getting bored now, I can’t do nothing but sit on that sofa, I want to do other things’.
“But life goes on, I’m alright. You’ve got to move on with the times. I was five years on Gogglebox, that was good enough. Now I’m just repeats on Netflix.
It wasn’t millions of pounds but I did good. I never knew my fixed wage, but I know I had £400 a week after bills. You get odd jobs too, sofa adverts, I got paid £10,000 for one of those
“I don’t watch myself back, I haven’t got any time. The only thing I want to hear about Gogglebox is that I’ve got fans.
“For the last two years, I’ve been travelling everywhere, just meeting my fans. They want to see me and get a selfie. I wish I could charge them, but I can’t.
“There haven’t been any bad times for me in my fame. I’m a good soul, a nice girl. I’ve always been funny. Good on me.”
We recently revealed how Gogglebox’s Paige went on a furious rant about crew “using her electricity and loo roll” before she quit the show.
Sandra spoke at the BEE Inspired event earlier this month, hosted by domestic abuse survivor and I Am The Queen Bee founder Dani Wallace.
The mum is on a mission to inspire, empower and motivate other women – and will be telling her story with Fabulous soon.