Vernon Kay: My Life in Media

'The Radio 1 show is a sailing ship of entertainment and I'm the captain. We just have a laugh and try to get as many people as possible on board'
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The Independent Online

Vernon Kay is a Radio 1 DJ and presents the television game show Family Fortunes. Born in Bolton, he was working in a factory ten years ago when a model scout spotted him. He then moved into entertainment. The 33-year-old lives in Buckinghamshire with his wife Tess Daly, the Strictly Come Dancing presenter, and their daughter Phoebe.

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

I was packing bananas when I was scouted to be a model at the Clothes Show Live in Birmingham. After two years of modelling, I ended up getting a screen test at 24. It was an advantage having a lot of life experience, rather than having come out of a stage school.

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

My dad was a lorry driver, so he would have picked up whatever was around the truck stop. My mum would have been too busy, though she did enjoy the odd Mills & Boon book. I briefly had a Sunday newspaper round and used to hate delivering The Sunday Times because of all the supplements.

And what were your favourite television and radio programmes?

I always listened to Radio 1 and now I'm working there it's a dream come true. I admired Chris Evans. When I was cleaning phone boxes in Bolton he was always on in the background. We watched whatever was on television, although we were never really in to soaps. My mum was a fan of Dallas and Falcon Crest and we liked Noel's House Party, Play Your Cards Right, The Price Is Right, Family Fortunes, Des O'Connor Tonight – all those really iconic shows.

Describe your job?

The Radio 1 show is a sailing ship of entertainment and I'm the captain. We just have a laugh and try and get as many people as possible on board. I like performing to a live television audience. Being able to transfer energy from 500 people in front of you to the millions watching at home is very difficult, but it's what makes a great show. I'm not someone who will do something just for the money, because I want a long career. I want people to say "I remember watching Vernon Kay" the way they say "I remember watching Bruce Forsyth".

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

BBC News 24 or Sky News. I like Eamonn Holmes in the morning.

Do you consult any media sources during the day?

I read Broadcast every week and Variety. I check showbiz sites just to check out who's doing what and who's doing who – AOL Entertainment, that sort of thing.

What is the best thing about your job?

That I get to have fun while entertaining people. If you are not having fun yourself, people can see you're just doing it for the sake of it. I love all the shows I do, especially Family Fortunes.

And the worst?

I don't think there is one. I like travelling a lot and getting recognised is a compliment. If you were a footballer or a movie star or a television presenter and people did not recognise you in Tesco, that says you're doing a pretty rubbish job.

How do you feel you influence the media?

I wouldn't say I do. I let my listeners know my opinions but I don't speak to them with an influential tone. I don't try to be political, I just talk common sense. I always show support for our troops in Iraq because I think they get a shoddy deal. Whether you're anti-war or pro-war, we're talking about 19-year-old men on the frontline.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

The fact I'm still working after ten years, which is pretty good in showbiz.

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

I like The Observer for the music stuff. I read Today's Golfer, which speaks in layman's terms – it doesn't try to be up its own backside. I read Golf Punk, Top Gear magazine and GQ.

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

I want a Bafta.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Iain Lee is the most entertaining DJ outside Radio 1. I like Jeremy Clarkson. Some people think he's pompous and obnoxious but I like the fact he's willing to be himself in public and voice his opinions, no matter what they may be. I like Jonathan Ross, too. He comes out with controversial jokes but he's just being himself. He's a funny guy.

The CV

2000: Gets first presenting jobs on music channel UK Play, then T4

2003: Presents the Brit Awards and Boys And Girls

2004: Joins Radio 1. He now presents on Saturday mornings and does Vernon Kay's HeadJam

2005: Takes part in Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon on ITV

2006: The Family Fortunes format is revived with Kay as host. He presents Just The Two Of Us with his wife, Tess

2007: Presents the second series of both Gameshow Marathon and Family Fortunes

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