My Mentor: Jeff Stelling on Des Lynam

No advice, but you learned a lot from his long pause, raised eyebrow and a knowing smile

The first time I met Des was on the eve of the 1985 Grand National at Aintree. I was a cub reporter with BBC radio and he was already a broadcasting god. I was fleetingly introduced and he was charming but I didn't expect him to remember my name.

The following morning, when he walked into the hotel dining room with his partner, he saw me sitting there and called: "Jeff, come and join us, you can't have breakfast on your own." That first meeting sums Des up: absolutely no ego whatsoever.

After that we'd meet in the street, the office, sporting events and functions. He'd always ask me how things were going and how my career was developing. I found him exactly as he was on screen: calm, reassuring and humorous.

Funnily enough though, he avoided giving me lengthy advice. It's not the sort of thing he'd have done - he'd have thought it would be belittling you. But I learnt so much from watching him at work, watching him perform. Des was the guy who made me realise you could say a great deal without using a single word; having a long pause, a raised eyebrow or a knowing smile. Many presenters, myself included, sometimes resort to non-stop gabbling of facts and figures. His coolness under pressure also impressed me. Even now, you get junior producers saying "sell it, sell it'' having this misconception that shouting things will make the programme more interesting to viewers. Des never got drawn into that: he says everything in measured tones and never gets loud or flustered. His pace is so even, whether it's the World Cup final or some minor match.

Having said this, my manner of presenting is a million miles away from what Des taught me. My show on Sky is a different beast - frenetic, furious without the measured delivery and pauses but I do try to incorporate some of that. It would be silly not to learn from the best ringmaster in the business. Des is the bloke who I aspire to be as good as.

Jeff Stelling is a Sky Sports presenter

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Guru Careers: Front End Web Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: Our client help leading creative agencies ...

Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

Guru Careers: Web Developer / Javascript Developer

COMPETITIVE (DOE) + BENEFITS : Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Backend / HTML ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn