My Mentor: Cristian O'Connell on Chris Evans

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The Independent Online

I used to listen to Chris Evans when he was doing a Saturday show on GLR in the late Eighties and early Nineties. I didn't know who he was, but it was a wild, anarchic and fantastic radio show back in the day when GLR had presenters like Chris Morris and Danny Baker. They were doing the sort of radio you didn't hear on Radio 1 or 2 or any local stations. I got the idea then it would be an amazing thing to do for a job.

Obviously, he cropped up again on Big Breakfast, and I heard him do his shows on Virgin and Radio 1. I was on Xfm when my agent called saying, "Chris Evans wants to meet you." I had to go to his flat in London and he had this terrifying Captain Barnacle ginger beard, which blew me away. His production company had a show on channel Five which Chris Moyles presented, but they had fallen out and he offered me the show.

Chris Evans was friendly and creative with a fantastic mind. Whenever I saw him he was very encouraging. He really cares about what is being put out. The first programme wasn't very good, and I knew it was rubbish, but I couldn't work out why because I had never done TV. We had a meeting and he went round the table telling people what they had done wrong and why, and 24 hours later the show was much better.

We saw each other a lot when I was making the show but after that, because I didn't really mix in his media circle in north London, we lost touch. He said it was a good thing that I was married and didn't live in London, because I could keep my perspective. If you live in London and spend time with media crowds in Soho House you can start talking like an insider, and that's what happened to him.

I'm glad he's back on Radio 2. He's gone back to appreciating how much fun radio is. The last time I saw him was at this year's Sony Radio Awards when he was with his fiancée – he's married now – andhe looked very well and very happy.



Christian O'Connell hosts Virgin Radio's breakfast show

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