Alex Zane: My Life in Media

'I've been punched and knocked to the ground by a crazy Russian; I've seen a man bury himself alive; and - weirder than weird - I've interviewed Tom Cruise'

Alex Zane, 26, is the presenter of Popworld, Channel 4's whimsical Saturday morning music show. After several false career starts, he began concentrating on his stand-up and was spotted by MTV at the Edinburgh Festival, which led to his presenting work on film and entertainment shows. Zane and his co-presenter, Alexa Chung, took over from Popworld's fierce and irreverent duo Simon Amstell and Miquita Oliver last month.

So what inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

I grew up enthralled by The Word and TFI Friday. I loved the raucous atmosphere. I'm sure subconsciously I decidedI wanted to present a show like that.

When you were 15 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

The Independent and The Guardian. I only read the television and movie reviews. You seldom find an honest and critical opinion on TV and I got great feedback for ScreenPlay from people who realised it actually had an opinion.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Almost exclusively sitcoms at 15: Blackadder, Bottom, The Young Ones, Fawlty Towers, Friends, Seinfeld. About the only show I liked outside comedy was The Crystal Maze (the Richard O'Brien era).I've become a regular radio listener only in the past year.

Describe your job

At the most basic level it is about linking together games, stunts, clips, concepts or sketches and interviewing people. What it really entails, though, is having a conversation that involves someone saying: "So, the guy's going to lie on the bed of nails, then the 4x4 will drive over him with you inside." Or: "So, the three contestants think they're in orbit and our guest is an actor playing a former KGB secret agent." In our last Popworld meeting someone said: "As you're getting undressed in front of the band you're interviewing, do keep a straight face".

What media do you turn to first thing in the morning?

If I'm not working early, BBC News 24 and the Internet. If I am, it'll be whatever paper the cab driver hason my way in. Sometimes I'll ask him to stop so I can buy one; this happens rarely, though. I keep meaning to investigate getting a paper delivered...

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

I'm always reading news websites, movie websites. If I'm in I watch the evening news on Channel 4.

What is the best thing about your job?

The variety. I've been a zombie in Dawn of the Dead; I've been screamed at by a man on a fake game show, who couldn't understand why I kept telling him his (correct) answers were wrong; I've been punched and knocked to the ground by a crazy Russian; I've watched a man bury himself alive; and - weirder than weird - I've interviewed Tom Cruise.

And the worst?

That I'm sure all this comes from some deep-seated insecurity and need to please people.

How do you feel you influence the media?

I'm not sure I do.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

I take pride in a lot of things I do. Obviously there are things I'm not proud of, and have asked that they never be mentioned to me again.

What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?

The Independent on Sunday and The Observer. I buy most movie and music magazines - Empire, Total Film, Q and NME. I also buy the Fortean Times as I can't seem to shake my childlike interest in the supernatural.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Attempting to use a urinal while Johnny Vaughan was washing his hands and chatting to me about the show we were presenting. Upon finishing washing his hands, I realised I wasn't going to be able to go - I had a kind of stage fright. So I pretended to use it, washed my hands, finished talking, did a circuit and ran back in. This time it was a success.

At home, what do you tune in to?

A lot of American sitcoms at the moment, like My Name is Earl and Scrubs. I watchChannel 4 News.Planet Earth was fantastic.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire

It was meeting my childhood hero, Burt Reynolds, but I met him last year. Now I want to play "The Bandit" in the remake of Smokey and the Bandit which must be just around the corner.

If you didn't work in the media what would you do?

I'd be a shark conservationist. 600,000 to 700,000 sharks are killed around the Galapagos Islands every year for their fins alone.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Jon Snow - he has the best socks in the industry.

The CV

1998: Moves to London to attend medical school and starts doing stand-up

1999: Leaves medical school to pursue comedy career and works for Mind

2000: Begins media course at Goldsmiths College

2001: Joins Xfm, presenting Sunday's early morning show

2002: Spotted by MTV doing stand-up, leaves college to presentScreenPlay

2004: Presents MTV's TRL and Xfm's Saturday morning show

2005: Presents Balls of Steel for Channel 4 and Space Cadets for E4

2006: Presents E4's Death Wish Live! and Popworld

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Award winning Peterborough base...

Langley James : PHP Developer; Linux, MySQL, MVC, GIT; Blackfriars; £40k

£35000 - £40000 per annum + progression, upskilling: Langley James : PHP Devel...

Recruitment Genius: Search Account Manager

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel your sales role is l...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital