The 28-year-old T4 presenter and Xfm DJ tells us about how he got into the media.
You have a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University, how useful has your degree been to you?
I started off doing maths at Cambridge but I changed after a year to do natural sciences. It has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m doing now. I had an excellent time and made a lot of good friends. I did stand up at the comedy club in Cambridge. There was a local cable television station and I did a couple of bits and pieces for them. It was very ramshackle but it was good experience. I don’t think there is a way you can study what I’m doing. You need a certain natural flair.
Did you keep in touch with any of your friends?
I still see a core of five or six best friends a lot. When I first left university we all lived in a house in Kentish Town. We were living the myth that we were still students. It made it a lot easier. We were with the same people we had been living with for the last three years so it was great. We broke ourselves in gently. We were all conscious that it could be a difficult adjustment and it really helped to stay together.
How well did you adjust after graduation?
I was certainly the slowest of my friends. Most of them went into jobs straight away, but I held out longer. I knew I didn’t want to work in an office or go a do a nine-to-five job – too lazy. So I was doing bits and pieces to support myself, including tutoring GCSE and A-level students in maths and science.
What was your worst job?
In that first year I was doing a bit of modelling, it was horrendous. I absolutely hated it, but having said that it was fairly good money. I don’t like having my photo taken, which is pretty pivotal to modelling. Coming out of university, it was pretty soul destroying. It felt about as far from a proper job as you can get. It was horrible to come out of having done a degree and be doing something where they’re saying, “Yeah, you’re pretty enough” – it’s not very nice. You feel like screaming in their face, “I’m not an idiot!”
What do you do now and how did you get into it?
It was about a year and a half before I first did anything on camera. I did audience warm ups for a Ruby Wax daytime show. That was good fun and it got me a screen test for Rise, the ill-fated Channel 4 breakfast show. I was tutoring Ruby Wax’s kids and I mentioned to her that I wanted to get into TV. She said I should apply for the graduate scheme at Princess Productions. The scheme was good fun and I got to do lots of things. It told me quite quickly that I did definitely want to go into presenting. I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes: I did a lot of development work, which went on for quite a while.
What advice would you give to new graduates?
A lot of people coming into TV do work experience and everyone is a runner at some point. It’s not much and you will be losing money hand over fist. It’s certainly what I did when I first started in TV.
What will you do next?
There is a lot of stuff on at the moment which I really like. I’m incredibly lucky that I do something that I love. It doesn’t feel like proper work because it’s good fun and I hang around with a load of fun people and we sit around a laugh a lot. Long may it continue! Although, realistically, as a TV presenter you have a short shelf life. There are lots of things I’d like to do and there is always natural sciences. I’d also really like to set up a production company.
- Rick can be seen weekday mornings from 7am on the C4 music show, ‘Freshly Squeezed’. He is a regular presenter on T4 throughout the weekend and can be heard every Saturday from 6-9pm on Xfm.