My Life In Media: Danny Wallace
'Richard Bacon and Ian Collins are both such great broadcasters. Although I preferred Richard when he had the polyp on his throat. It lent him great authority'
Monday 07 July 2008
Danny Wallace, 31, is an author and comedian, a television presenter for BBC and Sky, a radio presenter for Xfm and a columnist for Shortlist magazine. He was writing reviews for video game magazines at 13 and became a BBC producer at 22, and is known for writing a book about starting his own cult. He lives in north London.
What inspired you to embark on a career in the media?
I was watching the first episode of Don't Forget Your Toothbrush when I realised, "Blimey – that's someone's job!" To be involved in something that seemed to be so much fun, and so cool, and so funny, seemed like a complete dream.
When you were 15 years old which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?
The Independent, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph. I'm not sure I really read them, to be honest, but I did get Private Eye and pretend to understand it all.
And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?
It's unfashionable to say it, or maybe it's ironic-fashionable now, but Noel's House Party. In its prime it was one of the best shows on TV. Imaginative, original, warm, inclusive and with some of the finest ideas for Saturday night fun that are still being stolen today. NTV was probably the most exciting idea ever.
Describe your job.
Writing and talking.
What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?
I'll switch LBC on as I wake up, and I'll have Five's The Wright Stuff on while I potter about, bumping into things and trying to find the kettle. It's handy for finding out what's in the newspapers without trudging down to the newsagents, and also handy as I am particularly interested in Anton Du Beke's take on world events.
Do you consult any media sources during the day?
Yeah. I'll get the news from bbc.co.uk and I'll watch Channel 4's News at Noon, to get me ready and informed for Loose Women at 12.30. I also keep my eye on broadcastnow.co.uk
What do you tune into when you get home?
I fall asleep listening to the radio. Either Richard Bacon on 5Live or Ian Collins on TalkSport. They're both such great broadcasters, able to mix the funny and the serious with great ease. Though I preferred Richard Bacon when he had the polyp on his throat. It lent him great authority.
What is the best thing about your job?
Being able to have a bath at two o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon.
And the worst?
Worrying that I'm able to have a bath at two o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon.
How do you feel you influence the media?
I'd rather influence a reader.
What's the proudest achievement in your working life?
I think, so far, it's that Warner Bros have made a movie out of one of my books.
And what's your most embarrassing moment?
At a BBC awards party, I saw a novelty "get your picture taken with a fake Bafta" stall, and drunkenly convinced Alan Yentob to have his photo taken with me holding a fake Bafta. He gamely agreed. As he left the stall, I thanked him, and he shook my hand firmly and congratulated me on my achievements. I was confused. I asked the photogapher where I could pick up my novelty photo. He told me they were already with the press. I went white. It was not a novelty Bafta stall. It was a real display, for real Bafta winners, with real Baftas, and I'd just grabbed one and had my picture taken with Yentob, who clearly thought I was responsible for Walking With Dinosaurs. Two days later, I popped up as a strangely unnamed winner on a magazine website. I am still receiving congratulations to this day.
What's your Sunday paper?
The Observer, The Independent on Sunday, and the News of the World. Guess which one I read first.
Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire.
The Eurovision Song Contest commentary.
What would you do if you didn't work in the media?
I think I'd still have to do something along those lines, even if it was just editing the parish newsletter.
Who in the media do you most admire and why?
Jonathan Ross for pioneering and quick wit. Terry Wogan for reassurance and warmth. And John Pidgeon, my mentor at the BBC – a finer and more creative man you're not likely to meet.
'Friends Like These' by Danny Wallace is out now (Ebury Press, £11.99)
1996 Staff writer, Future Publishing, Bath, aged 19.
1999 Trainee producer, BBC Radio comedy. Produced The Mighty Boosh and Ross Noble Goes Global.
2002 Made head of development, BBC new comedy.
2003 Created a cult and wrote a bestselling book, both called Join Me.
2004 Began presenting his own BBC2 series, How To Start Your Own Country.
2005 Second book, Yes Man, becomes a Top Ten bestseller.
2007 Hosts Horizon and takes over as presenter of BBC1's Test the Nation.
2008 His third book, Friends Like These, is published and Yes Man movie – starring Jim Carrey – is about to be released.
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