Jamie Theakston: My Life In Media

'Splitting up a fight between Mr Blobby and an aggressive 14-year-old on 'Live and Kicking' was pretty embarrassing'
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The Independent Online

Jamie Theakston, 34, got into radio "by accident", reading traffic bulletins on the BBC while studying for a degree in business studies. He has since combined presenting entertainment shows such as 'The O-Zone', 'Live and Kicking' and 'Top of the Pops' with generating gossip column inches through high-profile relationships with Joely Richardson and Erin O'Connor. His publicity nadir came in early 2002, when it emerged he had visited a Mayfair brothel, but his appointment earlier this year to host the breakfast show on family station Heart 106.2 FM suggests that his image has recovered somewhat from the seedy revelations.

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

I was desperate to be a sports reporter, having worked on the GLR sports

show, and went on to do football and cricket reports for both GLR and Radio Five Live. I miss working in that environment but I wouldn't swap it for what I'm doing now.

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

The Daily Telegraph.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, Porridge, Yes, Minister. I have memories of staying up and watching these iconic comedies but we didn't listen to much radio.

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

The Times' letters, Mirror sport, Telegraph obits, page three of The Sun and The Independent's editorial. I go through most of the papers when I get in, then off air we'll talk about what's right and wrong about the show and what we're going to do tomorrow.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

Ananova is easy to navigate and a handy resource for the show. The Guardian online, Loose Ends and Sky News throughout the day.

What is the best thing about your job?

Being able to talk to London every morning - the greatest city in the world.

And the worst?

Having to get up at 4.30am to do it. But I think that the more you do it the more it becomes part of your routine. Breakfast shows tend to take a lot of time to settle in. If you look at the most successful breakfast shows in the past 15 years or so, they tend to have been hosted by people who have done it for 10 years. I think it gets easier rather than harder, but certainly during the week your whole day shifts on its axis. I still haven't quite worked out if I should be having a kip in the afternoon or not.

Who are your favourite breakfast presenters?

People such as Wogan and Tarrant.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Probably hosting big live BBC events like Millennium Night and the eclipse.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Dressing up in women's underwear on The Priory or splitting up a fight between Mr Blobby and an aggressive 14-year-old on Live and Kicking were pretty embarrassing, but nothing compared to goading a caller on Radio Five's sports quiz, Sportscall, about not wanting to claim his prize of a day driving a Formula One car with Nigel Mansell, only for the contestant to reveal to me that he was blind.

At home, what do you tune in to?

I use Sky+ so that I can record Channel 4 documentaries - mostly things such as Cutting Edge and Dispatches.

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

The Sunday Times. I like style magazines such as Tank and Clash, and Word magazine.

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

Slip in some German industrial-noisecore just after the 7.30am news on Heart Breakfast.

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

I worked at Christies and was going to study art history at the Courtauld Institute before I joined the BBC, so I would probably have become an art thief.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Lorraine Heggessey, Kevin Lygo, Alan Yentob, Andy Parfitt, Stuart Murphy, Alison Sharman, Nigel Pickard, Peter Salmon, Chris Wright, Peter Fincham. In fact anyone who has ever given me a job and might give me a job in the future.

The CV

1995 Spotted by the BBC's head of sport and finds himself presenting GLR's Saturday Sport Show at the age of 23, before hosting entertainment show The O-Zone with Jayne Middlemiss on BBC2

1996 Reinvigorates Saturday morning TV with Zoë Ball and Live and Kicking, which won a Bafta

1998 Becomes a regular Top of the Pops presenter, before quitting Live and Kicking the following year after three series

2000 Teams up with Zoë Ball again to present evening gossip, music and celebrity show The Priory on Channel 4

2002 Steps back from presenting to concentrate on acting, his first ambition as a child, and appears in Art and in the West End

2004 Pockets a reported £350,000 for presenting Channel 4's UK Music Hall of Fame which polled the public's favourite artists of all time

2005 Joins Heart 106.2 FM as breakfast host