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

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
football
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Life and Style
Customers look at the new iPhones on display at the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iphone 6 plus at the Apple IFC store in Hong Kong
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
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

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week