Richard Bacon: My Life in Media

'Doing this job every day in a relaxed environment means that you can get a bit lazy. Two hours set aside for prep pass by in a discussion about lunch'
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The Independent Online

Richard Bacon, 31, is a former Blue Peter presenter who fell from grace on the front page of the News of the World. In 1998 the paper reported that he had taken cocaine, and the BBC1 controller Lorraine Heggessey gave an on-air apology to CBBC viewers. He survived the scandal, and has gone on to present radio shows on Xfm, Capital and the BBC, as well as fronting music and entertainment programmes. Last month he returned to Xfm to present the drivetime slot, split up from his long-term girlfriend, the Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq, and was beaten up in a London pub.

What inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

I was fascinated by broadcasting from childhood. I loved children's shows like Saturday Superstore and folk like Kenny Everett, who to me was a bit of a bridge between kids' and adults' programmes. And it looked like it was a lot of fun. (I've since found out that it is.) I also developed a bit of an obsession with BBC local radio that has never relaxed its grip: I do a piece on my Xfm show where I eavesdrop on BBC local stations, most recently BBC Radio WM.

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

The Daily Mail. Yes. Beggars and choosers.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

As a child of the 1980s, it was a lot of American imports such as Dallas, The A-Team, Manimal, Airwolf, Chips. And the regional output also had a big appeal to me: Look North, Central TV's I'm Dan Whitehead, and BBC Radio Nottingham in general, and in particular Dennis McCarthy.

Describe your job.

My current main gig, Xfm drivetime, involves championing new music, getting away a few bona fide classics, and staples like news and travel - all of which is interrupted by my own facile opinion and inadequate stabs at humour.

What media do you you turn to first thing in the morning?

I turn to a load, and then carry on Hoovering the remainder up through the rest of the day. It starts with Xfm and Five Live, then the Wrap news round-up on my BlackBerry from The Guardian. By the time I've got out of bed, it's the Telegraph, Sun and Mirror, delivered daily from Mrs Joshi's Chiswick newsagent. Plus The Independent on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

MediaGuardian and the Indy rather a lot. BBC.co.uk, Sky News if there's an evolving story and Broadcast when I see it lying around the office. I also look at Digital Spy and Popjustice.co.uk.

What is the best thing about your job?

The hours - but the whole job is great fun. I'm sharing an office with like-minded people, and we all try to make each other laugh. Not a bad thing to be remunerated for. Plus, Xfm sits in quite a relaxed place, so there's no great paranoia at Rajar results time. Unlike Capital, they don't have the potential to send GCap's share price plunging.

And the worst?

Doing this job every day in this type of relaxed environment means that you can get a bit lazy. Two hours set aside for prep can pass by in a discussion about where to go for lunch.

How do you feel you influence the media?

I'd love to think I influenced people in this line of work, but I don't think I do.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Getting my job as Blue Peter's 24th presenter.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Losing my job as Blue Peter's 24th presenter.

At home, what do you tune in to?

A lot: Xfm, Five Live, BBC Radio 2, and Loose Ends, Clue and Pick of the Week on Radio 4.

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

The People. I always turn to their film critic before any other. Plus the News of the World and The Sunday Times.

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

To do one programme that was unequivocally brilliant. That hasn't happened yet.

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

I still often regret not going into politics. (Sadly, there's already a Richard Bacon MP, in South Norfolk.)

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Phillip Schofield. The man has been warm and friendly for 20 years. And, that film critic from the People.

The cv

1994 Junior reporter at BBC Radio Nottingham.

1996 Joins the ill-fated L!VE TV as a reporter, ending up banned from the state opening of Parliament

1997 Becomes a Blue Peter presenter, and is sacked 18 months later after he was revealed to have taken cocaine on a night out.

2002 After three years on The Big Breakfast, joins Xfm, presenting a Sunday afternoon show and some drivetime sessions.

2003 Re-hired by the BBC as a presenter on Five Live and Top of the Pops.

2005 Joins Capital Radio as drivetime presenter.

2006 Returns to Xfm to host the drivetime show.

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