Latest Stories


Oli Pettigrew goes on a joyride in ‘Cash Cab Asia’


Let’s face it, the idea of hopping in a taxi to find a hunky celebrity like Oli Pettigrew sitting behind the wheel is something a commuter can only dream about. But when you’re in Singapore, the odds of that happening are surprisingly pretty good. Currently the host of AXN’s “Sony Style,” the Hong Kong-born British model and TV personality now also plays resident cabbie-cum-quizmaster to the network’s newest game show import, “Cash Cab Asia,” whose premiere hits cable TV screens this October.

Devised by Adam Wood, the “Cash Cab” franchise originated in the UK and has spun several versions in various countries. Unsuspecting passengers hail a specially outfitted taxi and are offered the chance to win instant cash by correctly answering a series of general knowledge or trivia questions en route to their destination. The catch? They only have 15 seconds per question (and three “strikes” or wrong answers) to come up with the correct answers before they get booted out of the cab, no matter where they are. But at least the ride is free.

In an exclusive one-on-one phone interview, the wacky and charming Pettigrew shared his hilarious on- and off-cam experiences while prowling the traffic-free streets of the Lion City in his Chevrolet “cash cab” (including being stalked by jealous cabbies).

Were you already familiar with the franchise before you joined the show?

Yeah, I’ve seen a couple of the American episodes on Discovery when I was here. They were just driving through New York, and I thought it was a cool, interesting and very simple show. So when I heard that I’d be getting an opportunity to host my own version, I was excited just thinking about where I could take the show, what I would be able to do, and if I’d be able to make it funny. I was quite excited about that.

You’re also the cab driver, right?

I’m the everything! It’s just me and a cab, and we’ve got five hidden cameras inside. I’m driving them to their destination, I keep track of how much money they’ve won, and I’m also sort of like the question master and host of the show. It’s quite a lot of things to do, [but] it’s a lot of fun for me.

Was it difficult hosting and driving around at the same time?

Honestly, if you would just take somebody off the street and put them in the car, it could be tricky. But we had a lot of practice, did some test runs. By the time we were actually shooting, I was super comfortable in the car. It’s all just muscle memory.

Were there a lot of passengers who got too scared to join?

That happened frequently. I’d guess about 30-40% of the time people would just run away, not want to play, or just cover their faces up, get scared and hide behind their bags. But I think if we get to go on season 2, once people see the show, they’ll be a lot more excited about wanting to play because they’ll see it’s quite fun.

Was there anyone who recognized you right away?

(Laughs) I did get recognized a couple of times, with people getting into the cab going, “Wait a minute, you’re Oli Pettigrew. Something’s fishy here, why’s this TV guy driving a cab?”

Frankly speaking, I’d probably know something was up once I take one look at the hot cab driver. But that’s just me.

(Laughs) Well, also because they’d get in and notice that there are a lot more lights in the cab. And we do have these little TVs in the cab with the “Cash Cab” logo on them—we’d get people from Australia and America, where they have the show as well, get into the cab and they’d get suspicious, but then they’d see the logo and they’d get really excited because they’re fans of the show as well.

What would you do if the tables were turned? How well do you think you’d do in the game?

Honestly, I’m a quiz geek; I think I’m pretty good at quizzes. I practice with the questions every morning and try to get the answers myself, and I’d get a 90% hit rate. But, if you were to put me in the back of the Cash Cab with no warning, I tell you it’s gonna be an entirely different game. These people aren’t prepared for a quiz, and suddenly they’re on TV. I played it with my friends; [they] knew the answers, but when you give them only 15 seconds to get out with it… It’s a lot harder than you think. So actually, I don’t know, I think I’d be doing just the same as anybody else. It’s a hard game.

Yeah, it requires you to think on your feet.

Very, very quickly, yeah.

What did you like most about being in the show?

I’m a big fan of unscripted television. I like to just make things up as I go along, to really have fun improvising. So with “Cash Cab,” one of my favorite things, which is also one of the most nerve-wracking things, is that the entire show is unscripted. The entire show’s resting on me; it’s just me in a cab asking questions, so I’ve gotta make it funny off the top of my head, I’ve gotta interact with these people, I’ve gotta make it entertaining. That was exciting for me as a challenge, but it’s quite nerve-wracking as well to know that it’s my responsibility 100 percent.

Any funny or memorable off-camera moments?

Off-camera? That’s a good question, no one’s actually asked that! I basically have this “chase bus” with my crew in it; they can all see me on this big screen and they can hear everything going on in the cab. I can actually hear them through an earpiece, so we’d just be having these stupidest conversations as we’re driving around in Singapore. The funny thing is, we’d be at a red light at night and I’d have my disco lights going on inside. Everyone would start laughing, and you’d get someone in the car next to you looking at you like you’re insane. I’d be just talking to myself and cracking up!

Another thing is that cab drivers would sometimes get a bit threatened by this new “cab company,” and they’d be sort of following me down the road trying to take photos of my cab, like, “Who is this new guy?” So as we’d stop at the traffic light, suddenly I’d pull out this wad of American 100-dollar bills and I’d just start casually counting through them and mess with the [cab drivers]. That was quite fun. There were lots of practical jokes going on.

We would love to see an episode on those.

I know! I’ll talk to AXN. (Laughs)

Actually, it would be fun if there were a Manila version, although if you were in Manila , you’d probably spend more time being stuck in traffic than driving around.

Right. We could do a jeepney version! (Laughter) No, but I think that’s why Singapore got chosen in the end. There were discussions about doing it in other countries, but… The problem with Manila, KL or Jakarta is that you could just be stuck in traffic for hours, and it just sort of takes the dynamic feature of the show out of it. It also limits the amount of time you can work. Whereas in Singapore, we’re lucky that we have very little traffic. We were always able to just get in, drive and have fun.

Let’s say you could pick anyone in the world as your passenger. Who would it be and why?

Ooh, that’s too hard a question, now! Hmm… I wouldn’t mind getting President Barack Obama, because he seems [like] quite a fun guy and it’d be interesting for me. He’s done TV shows before, so why don’t I get the President of the United States in the back of the Cash Cab and have a bit of fun with him? That would be memorable.

Lastly, any messages for the potential season 2 passengers who’ll be watching the show?

Absolutely. If you’re gonna get a cab and you’re thinking of crossing Singapore, just be ready—I could be anywhere. (Laughter)

Catch “Cash Cab Asia’s” double-episode premiere on Oct. 18, 7:35 p.m., with new episodes every Tuesday at 8:05 p.m., exclusively on AXN.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Oli Pettigrew , “Cash Cab Asia , ” AXN’s Sony Style

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. World bids Gabriel Garcia Marquez ‘Adios’
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  5. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  8. Garcia Marquez left unpublished manuscript
  9. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  10. Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  5. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  6. This is not just a farm
  7. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  10. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • Maid confesses in killing of 2 and stabbing of employer in Laguna
  • N. Korea finally offers condolences over ferry tragedy
  • 16 CADPI sugar refinery workers now out of danger after toxic shower in Batangas
  • PNP denies Purisima’s involvement in questionable deal with courier firm
  • Pro-Russian insurgents hold journalist hostage
  • Sports

  • UP nips St. Benilde; Adamson blasts RTU in Filoil women’s caging
  • Kevin Garnett responds to Raptors’ GM F word
  • Albert Pujols hits 500th HR of major league career
  • UST posts twin kill in Filoil pre-season cup opening day
  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Bollywood Oscars, film stars come to Florida
  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Business

  • SM to rebuild Tacloban hospital
  • PSEi slips after 4-day rally
  • Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles, outselling GM
  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • Technology

  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Brazil passes trailblazing Internet privacy law
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • China won’t budge, wants PH gov’t to apologize to HK
  • Cha cha train to follow Obama visit?