My Life In Media: Christian O'Connell

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The Independent Online

Christian O'Connell, 31, presents the breakfast show on Xfm and 'Fighting Talk' on BBC Radio Five Live. The former stand-up comic, Winchester binman and salesman is a showbiz outsider - having been to only one film premiere. He supports Southampton, would most like to fight Ben Elton, and lives with his wife, Sarah, and their baby daughter. The first record he bought was Bananarama's 'Robert De Niro's Waiting'.

Christian O'Connell, 31, presents the breakfast show on Xfm and 'Fighting Talk' on BBC Radio Five Live. The former stand-up comic, Winchester binman and salesman is a showbiz outsider - having been to only one film premiere. He supports Southampton, would most like to fight Ben Elton, and lives with his wife, Sarah, and their baby daughter. The first record he bought was Bananarama's 'Robert De Niro's Waiting'.

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

When I was a kid I loved Steve Wright in the afternoon. He was exciting, cheeky and rude but warm. I thought, crikey, that's a bit of a job: you get to play good music and muck around with your friends.

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

I used to read shitloads. My dad made me read The Sunday Times and I moved on to The Observer. I liked the columnists, sports pages and TV reviews.

And what were you favourite TV and radio programmes?

As a grumpy teenager I listened to a lot of John Peel and later to GLR too. They had Chris Evans, Chris Moyles, Danny Baker - really inventive stuff, testing the boundaries. It excited me about radio. As for TV, exposure at a tender age to Basil Brush's irreverence informed my whole presenting style.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

Five Live in the taxi to work, to pick up the news and think what we need to chat about on the show. I read the main red-tops and most of the qualities. I'm obsessed with the letters pages of the broadsheets and love the Telegraph's obituaries.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

I listen to new CDs, check the BBC news website and flip between cable news channels.

What is the best thing about your job?

I play music I like and am energised by the calls and texts we get. We have a laugh - it's not a job!

And the worst?

Thinking up new ideas for the show, I don't like it to get stale.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Being taught to tap dance by Lionel Blair last year. I created my own genre, rock tap. Lionel said it was crap but in the future I'll be judged as a genius.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Cutting my daughter's umbilical cord when she was born last year. I was impressed with my bravery at such a poignant moment until, a few minutes later, I was sick in this room full of doctors and nurses. My wife had gone through labour and all I had to do was cut a tiny little cord.

At home, what do you tune in to?

Chris Rock's new stand-up is brilliant, as is Curb Your Enthusiasm. I've been buying a lot of classics: old Hitchcock, Laurel and Hardy, Sgt Bilko. I like some of the weird programmes on the Discovery Channel. There's Animal Face-Off: for an hour each night, they imagine what would happen if two animals had a fight. I fell asleep towards the end of shark vs hippo, covered in baby vomit, so if anyone knows who won please do let me know.

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

Word, Uncut and Mojo, all cover to cover. I read The Observer, The Sunday Times and, although it's a hideous paper, I take a guilty look through the News of the World.

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

To appear on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. I'd be rubbish - I'm not intelligent or funny - but it'd be nice to be asked.

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

I did toy with the idea of being a teacher because I had a geography teacher who was quite cool and funny,very much in the mould of Mr Chips. But he sat me down one day and said, "Look, there's no money in teaching, don't bother. You can be quite funny, you should do something in entertainment."

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Jonathan Ross, Terry Wogan, Chris Evans, Danny Baker - real innovators with warmth and intelligence.

CV: RADIO ROGUE

1990: Works for a couple of months at Winchester Hospital Radio. Sacked for inviting friends in to pretend to be local Rotarians and society chairmen in interviews. Also works for college radio, before leaving to take communications studies at Nottingham Trent.

1995: Begins telesales at IPC. Moves on to Bizarre magazine at John Brown Publishing, then BBC Publishing's Good Food magazine. Works in radio sales at GWR.

1998: Successfully auditions for the breakfast show at Bournemouth's 2CR FM.

2000: Moves to Liverpool's Crash breakfast show for the station's relaunch as Juice 107.6.

2001-: Plucked from relative obscurity to present the breakfast slot at indie music station XFM. Wins NTL Commercial Radio Presenter of the Year in 2002, the Sony Gold for Best Breakfast Show in 2003, and 2004 Sony DJ of the Year. Voted third sexiest voice on the radio, after Jonathan Ross and Terry Wogan. Gets Channel 5 show Live With..., but it's not recommissioned.

2004: Starts presenting Fighting Talk on BBC Radio Five Live.

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