My Mentor: Greg Burns on Jonathan Ross

'It would have been awful if he had turned round and said "that was crap"'
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The Independent Online

I watched Jonathan Ross on television from the age of 11 or 12. There was nobody like him on BBC1 at the time. I wouldn't have been aware of the American chat show influences that he drew from, such as David Letterman and Jay Leno, but I was intrigued by him. He was so different, and the forerunner for the Channel 4 revolution that came later.

The first time I spoke to him was when I interviewed him on the phone for one of my first radio shows at a tiny station in Wales. The interview was great fun but I remember thinking afterwards about his position at the epicentre of London media, which all seemed so far away and unobtainable at the time.

In 2000 I started working as the warm-up for They Think It's All Over and I remember the first time I saw him in the staff canteen. When you work in TV you get used to seeing recognisable people around the canteen a lot and you can become a bit blasé, but there was Jonathan Ross, this huge recognisable figure, in one of his loud garish suits with driving gloves on and no shoes or socks. It was suitably odd and extravagant for the first time I saw him in real life.

Watching him recording the They Think It's All Over shows was an amazing opportunity for me. He exudes star quality and has the right calmness and presence of mind. When he's performing he is always switched on. I'm not saying that I've managed to absorb all of that, but I have enjoyed trying to learn from it.

Since then I have had a tiny cameo in The Office Christmas special. There was a screening for it and Jonathan Ross was there.

I talked to him about my part before we went in and it turned out he was sitting right in front of me, next to Ricky Gervais. I was worried my part had been cut but it came on and he laughed. It would have been awful if he had turned round and said to Ricky: "Why did you put that in? That was crap."

Greg Burns is a stand up comic and presents the drivetime show on Capital 95.8 FM, weekdays 4-7pm.