My Life In Media: Ben Shephard
Monday 30 June 2008
Ben Shephard, 33, is a television presenter who is best known for his work with GMTV. He can also be seen, alongside Denise van Outen, fronting ITV1's primetime series Who Dares Sings. A staunch West Ham supporter and gym fanatic, Shephard is a father of two and has been married to his wife Annie for four years. He lives in south-west London.
How did you get into the media?
When I was at Birmingham University casters would come into the drama department from the local weather network, looking for people to do stings [sponsored trailers that tell the viewer what they are about to watch]. I went along to a casting, spoke to some people there, and they wanted me to do a weather sting for them. After work, I asked if they had any jobs going for runners during the holidays, and they did. I spent my time painting backgrounds, answering the phone and generally helping out where I could. A producer there suggested that I should go into television and that I could make a good presenter. I think at the time I was still secretly hoping that I could make it as an actor.
When you were 15, what newspapers did you get?
My dad used to get The Times. At school the paper that I looked at on a regular basis was the Daily Mail. It was good for sports and we didn't have to fold it out like The Times and the other broadsheets.
What were your favourite TV and radio programmes?
As a kid I could watch anything; my favourite shows were things like Kickstart and Junior Kickstart, which were shows about motorbikes. I was addicted to Lovejoy and loved soaps.
How would you describe your job?
I have such a laugh that I don't even know if you can call this a proper job. I suppose that my job is communication. Essentially what I do is take ideas or stories and attempt to either motivate, or inform people.
What is the first media that you turn to in the morning?
Five Live usually goes on in the car when I'm heading into GMTV. When I get into the newsroom, every news channel is on, and then I read through the newspapers so it's a massive media explosion as soon as I walk into the office.
Do you consult any other media during the day?
I am fascinated by the front pages of The Independent. I look at most of the papers every morning, but because The Independent is always trying to do something different with their front page that makes them stand out. I also love Oliver Holt's sports column the Daily Mirror. He writes with real insight, which clearly reflects his love of sport.
What do you tune in to at home?
If I'm listening to the radio I'll try to catch Robert Elms on BBC London, he is so passionate about what he does; and Chris Evans on Radio 2. I always look at Sky Sports News throughout the day, and Sky News.
What is the best thing about your job?
GMTV is great because it is so diverse. You never know what's going to happen or what you're going to be talking about. It can equally be the worst thing about it, but at least no day is the same. The team behind the show is brilliant, and despite the early starts it's very satisfying to be going home when everyone is on their way to work.
And the worst thing?
The insecurity of it. I know good tells and media people who have lost jobs in the past because the boss has changed and they want to put their own stamp on the place. Television is organic, and the insecurity can occasionally leave you worried about your position.
How do you influence the media?
I think we give TV critics a lot to write about. I don't think I influence the media; I imagine that I have some influence over viewers. The last programme that I pushed was Heroes. I've had loads of people coming up to me since then, saying how great they think it is and that they only started watching because I kept banging on about it.
What is your proudest achievement?
When we launched The Xtra Factor on ITV2, I think it was one of the first sister shows that held up a programme in its own right. We brought 2 million viewers to ITV2 with the tiniest budget and the smallest crew. It was one of the best experiences of my life, being in a live environment gave me the opportunity to really push Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh when we interviewed them. Some of the best interviews that I've done have been on The Xtra Factor, giving Sharon and Louis a hard time on the decisions they'd made. When Louis quit, which was a big story, we were right there. It was irreverent, it was fun, it was serious, and it gave me a chance to be myself. The awards we won were testament to how hard we worked. I think it set a mould for sister shows since then to follow.
What has been your most embarrassing moment so far?
Jayne Middlemiss showed me her knickers on TV once. I had to ask what kind of knickers she was wearing and instead of telling me she decided to show me. There was no way to prepare for that. I also fell over the back of the GMTV sofa one morning pretending to be Tom Cruise live on air.
What is your favourite Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?
The Sunday Times – and I love the Sunday Times magazine. I also like to read Men's Health because I like to stay fit and healthy.
Name one career ambition you want to realise.
I would love to be in a position to be responsible for getting my own employment. I'd also like to have my own production company one day.
Who in the media do you admire most and why?
From a presenter's point of view, any of the great interviewers like Clive James. I used to love Whicker's World. Jon Snow is probably the coolest person in TV. Simon Cowell has transformed a genre of television and is making some massively successful pop artists at the same time.
'Who Dares Sings' is on ITV1 on Saturday nights
1998 Hosts 'Control Freaks' on Channel 4
1998 Joins 'The Bigger Breakfast' on Channel 4
2000 Joins 'Entertainment Today' ITV1
2004 Co-presents 'The Xtra Factor' ITV2
2008 Joins BBC in the North-east
2008 Wins Sport Relief boxing bout BBC1
2008 Fronts 'Who Dares Sings' ITV1
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