Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back season 3 preview

GORDON RAMSAY’S 24 HOURS TO HELL AND BACK: Gordon Ramsay. GORDON RAMSAY’S 24 HOURS TO HELL AND BACK premieres Tuesday, Jan. 7 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2020 FOX Broadcasting. CR: Brian Bowen Smith /FOX. photo provided by Fox
GORDON RAMSAY’S 24 HOURS TO HELL AND BACK: Gordon Ramsay. GORDON RAMSAY’S 24 HOURS TO HELL AND BACK premieres Tuesday, Jan. 7 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2020 FOX Broadcasting. CR: Brian Bowen Smith /FOX. photo provided by Fox /

Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back returns for season 3 this week, and executive producer Tim Warren took us inside the smoldering FOX series.

Gordon Ramsay is taking TV viewers back to hell—in Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back season 3, that is. The FOX series has its season premiere Tuesday, sending the world’s top chef to try and save a new spate of desperate restaurants around the country.

Before the sparks start flying, Hidden Remote sat down with Tim Warren, one of the executive producers who makes 24 Hours to Hell and Back possible. Tim explained what effect the time limit has on the fast-paced show, what goes into their renovations, and what it’s truly like to work with Chef Ramsay to make the most addictive reality TV show on the air.

Learn more about the series in our interview with Tim Warren below, then don’t miss the Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back premiere tonight at 8:00 p.m. on FOX!

Hidden Remote: What makes 24 Hours to Hell and Back unique is the time constraint; you have only one day on the ground at each restaurant. How difficult does that make production?

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Tim Warren: It’s crazy. Before I did 24 Hours To Hell and Back, I was the showrunner for Bar Rescue and that was a
four to five-day shoot cycle. So to try and achieve dramatic personal and physical transformations in a quarter of the time is very challenging, but that’s what makes it so exhilarating.

You’re going into these restaurants, they’re on their last leg, they need help desperately, and it’s this 24-hour intense boot camp where we try to take them from utter failure to putting them on the path to success.

It’s a huge challenge for us as producers but it’s also a huge challenge for Gordon—who not only is involved every step of the way behind the scenes, but also is ultimately responsible for getting these folks to wake up and get on track, quickly. He cares so deeply about giving these restaurants’ employees and the owners the very best chance to succeed in the future. So the time constraint is very difficult for all of us, but it is also incredibly rewarding.

HR: TV fans have this perception of Gordon Ramsay as being intimidating. But that’s not really accurate—what’s been your experience working with him in this high-stakes environment?

TW: Working with Gordon has truly been an amazingly positive experience. He is so collaborative. He’s not just a host; he’s a fellow executive producer. He wants to make great television—but, as I said before, he really cares about the well-being of the owners and the staff and he really wants to leave them in a good place.

He’s not this guy who comes to set and yells and screams. He’s a super-smart, super-caring and super-passionate person and will do everything he can to fix these restaurants. Ultimately to be able to work with him is just a thrill. I love going to work every day.

HR: As you start 24 Hours to Hell and Back season 3, how has the series continued to evolve? Are there any major changes that we’ll see this season?

TW: Because we’re going into our third season and we are the number-one cooking show on television, it is that much more difficult to get Gordon into the restaurants without being recognized. Our cover story to potential participants is still that we are a new restaurant renovation show. We don’t tell them the name of the show, we don’t tell them the host, we don’t tell them the network and we try to keep them in the dark as much as possible. But because 24 hours has become higher and higher profile, people are suspicious. They’re like, “well maybe it’s that Gordon Ramsay show.”

What that meant for us this year was we really had to up our game to be able to get Gordon into the restaurants unnoticed. For example, this season we took one of Gordon’s close friends, James Avery, who’s an accomplished chef, and put him in an awful disguise. He sort of looked like “Otto” from Airplane. The whole idea was we wanted the owners, the staff and all the restaurant patrons to believe that James Avery was Gordon Ramsay in disguise. Long story short, they took the bait hook, line and sinker.

Throughout the recon, they thought this guy in this bad disguise at table five had to be Gordon, and what we ended up doing was putting Gordon in disguise as one of our camera crew. He was running around the restaurant and in the kitchen with a camera getting a bird’s eye view of the restaurant’s operation while all the patrons, owners and staff were focused on James Avery in this ridiculous disguise.

We did several “misdirects” this season. We brought in celebrities, like Vincent Pastore and Joseph Gannascoli from The Sopranos [are in] an episode. We were constantly looking for different ways to get the owners and staff to be looking somewhere else so we could get Gordon into these restaurants so he could get his critical, first-hand customer experience to evaluate problems without anyone knowing it was him.

HR: You mentioned your time on Bar Rescue, and you’ve also worked on other reality shows like Life or Debt. Have you been able to apply your past experience to 24 Hours to Hell and Back?

TW: I draw on all of my past experiences. Every show I’ve done before shapes how I produce the current show I’m working on. Whether the subject matter of the show is restaurants, bars, cars, tattoos or houses, what I’ve learned is that all these shows are really about telling stories about human nature and human dynamics. It’s what makes a show the most relatable to the broadest audience.

I don’t believe 24 Hours to Hell and Back is really about restaurants. Restaurants are the backdrop, of course, but the show is really about people and generally these restaurants are failing because of some negative human dynamic or behavior.

Yes, a restaurant may not have all the latest equipment and perhaps it isn’t in the best location and the competition may be fierce but at the end of the day, a restaurant’s failure lies directly at the feet of the people running it. Usually, there’s some sort of trauma that happened in a person’s past or there’s some insecurity that’s holding them back personally that subsequently affects the success or failure of the business.

What Gordon is so great at doing is getting to the bottom of these core personal issues and helping people address them. Yes, he changes the menu and yes, he changes the decor but ultimately, I think really what resonates with these people who are struggling, is that Gordon relates to them on a human level. He relates to them as a dad, a husband, a brother and as a restaurateur who has had his own share of struggles. That’s the way to peel back the layers of people’s insecurities and issues and get to the heart of why they are failing.

We have a restaurant coming up where the owner was unconsciously looking at the restaurant and her employees as her family. Instead of being a boss, she was viewing them as her brothers, sisters or kids. She wasn’t treating them as employees. She wasn’t leading as a boss and I think the reason she was doing that was she had gone through a very difficult divorce so she was trying, through this restaurant, to recreate a family and recreate stability in her life.

I think that happens often. There’s always some deeper personal reason, a need that has to be filled, why someone will start a restaurant…Gordon’s job is to go in and hold that mirror up and say, “Listen, take responsibility and look to see how you’re responsible for this failure. As soon as you admit to your role in this mess, then you can succeed.”

HR: Any particular highlights that you want fans to look ahead to in the third season?

TW: We’ve got former New England Patriots tight end and future Hall of Famer, Rob Gronkowski, helping Gordon during a restaurant recon. Rob is just an amazingly funny and talented guy. We had a great time with him and produced a super-strong episode.

Overall, I believe we’ve elevated the show to the next level this season and I hope people will continue to be entertained. These are the best episodes we’ve ever produced, in my opinion. It feels really good to see the series continuing to grow and evolve. It’s the same show at its core, but there are some new twists and turns that our current fans will enjoy, as well as people who are just joining the show for the first time.

HR: TV fans are always skeptical about reality TV. So how would you describe the impact of 24 Hours to Hell and Back?

TW: Over 85 percent of the restaurants that Gordon and his team have gone into save are still open. We are all really proud of that figure, because these restaurants were days from closing. They were at the edge of the cliff. They had a mountain of debt and often a lifetime of bad habits that were difficult to change, especially in 24 hours. To be able to turn so many failures into successes is very rewarding and is why I am so proud of what we do.

People always ask, is the show real? They’re like, “Come on, really? A mouse in the toaster?” My response [is], I swear it is 100 percent real. I wouldn’t do the show if it weren’t. [They] ask, how
come these owners and staff let these restaurants become so dirty? For me, it goes back to human nature. I think people who are in a really bad situation and are about to completely fail begin to give up and become blind to the filth. They close their eyes to what’s going wrong because it is so painful to look at.

But that’s what I love about 24 Hours to Hell and Back. In a very short amount of time, we can open people’s eyes who are struggling, and dramatically change their lives for the better. To do something that is entertaining, but also positive and leaves people in a better place is a win-win situation.

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Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.