Well, it was more good luck than anything. Back in the dark ages, Janet Street-Porter launched a youth TV channel called L!VE TV. It was to have city-specific content, as well as national coverage. I worked for The Mirror newspaper at the time, who were bankrolling the station and so I started doing various bits for the TV station and it just grew from there. Gail also started out on L!VE TV and that’s where we met. We’ve been friends for over 20 years.
I recently saw you tweet a picture of you with Gail Porter, can you tell me how you got your career started in presenting?
After the demise of L!VE TV, I concentrated on writing and then about 8 years later made a CH4 documentary called Vain Men (I was at that point Deputy Editor of Men’s Health) and my TV career restarted. I enjoyed coupling working a few days a week on Richard & Judy and being able to do live tv again.
You get to travel a lot, what do you enjoy most about being able to do that as a career?
Travel is the best education anyone can get. I was lucky enough to have parents were very forward thinking and who took us as children around the world while we were still young. I went to Australia when I was seven years old, quite a feat back then, and that is where my love of travel came from.
The best thing is being able to travel is the Air Miles, no seriously, it’s not the First Class air flights or the luxury hotels, which are a great perk I know, it’s about experiencing new cultures. New sights, new tastes and smells. I love nothing more than wandering around and literally getting lost. I’ve discovered some of the best-hidden gems this way. Travel truly makes the ordinary extraordinary.
You’re a self-confessed gay dad, how has this shaped and changed your career?
In a word: totally. Having a family – a truly Modern Family – – and being a dad to three amazing children is possibly the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. We went from a couple to having three children in the space of six weeks. It was mind-blowing. Don’t get me wrong it’s a tough job being a parent. But the rewards of seeing your children grow and develop and blossom with your guidance is all the reward you’ll ever need.
I’ve had to juggle work commitments constantly and have turned some options down because they don’t fit with family life, but I wouldn’t change anything. Our children have given me a renewed enthusiasm for life and also made me see the world through their eyes too, which is a unique and amazing perspective. I just wish more same-sex couples and single people from the LGBT community would come forward and take up parenthood. I read recently that if this were to happen, it would virtually eliminate the thousands of kids in the UK who are desperately wanting to be adopted and part of a loving family.
Can you tell me what it’s like to be an Author and if there’s anything in the pipeline for more books from you?
It’s a tough life being any sort of writer. It can be lonely at times and also frustrating when you have deadlines to meet and can’t seem to get the words you need down on paper. When I’m on form, I can write without even a second thought. Other times it’s agonisingly bad when nothing seems to come out the way you imagined it.
As for what’s in the pipeline, interestingly enough I’m working on an illustrated Children’s book – a complete departure for me – and not without its challenges. I always like to set the bar high for myself and I’m my own worst critic. I’m also in talks to front a new TV travel show, but it’s early days and I’m not sure if it’s something I will commit to yet.
With Christmas and New Year just around the corner, is there anything you can let me in on in terms of your plans?
It’s a very quiet Christmas this year. We plan to stay at home and enjoy the festivities as a family and I’m really looking forward to that. January is going to be a busy month for me with an exciting ‘reveal’ which I can’t say anything about yet. But, I’m going to enjoy the calm before the storm until then!