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Hello, I'm Larry through and welcome back to another episode of my podcast series for BBC Radio Four, Grounded with Larry Threw in which I have remote conversations with people I'm interested in by Hello like reality TV phenomenon Rylan Clark Neal, who shot to fame on The X Factor before walking into Celebrity Big Brother, where he emerged the winner.
I as you.
Well, good. How are you doing? I look like I got jaundice. I'm so sorry. Then what's wrong with this line?
You look great. That's your signature look. I know John. This turned and relaxed.
As I begin the chat, I'm looking at what appears to be an actual room from the Big Brother house, complete with professional microphone.
This is actually my diary room, so I'm actually in here down for the total professional. You know, I've I've been doing radio two from here during lockdown where I come to scream about my husband.
Rhiannon's charms have meant he's one of a select handful of people to have parlayed his reality TV celebrity into an actual broadcasting career.
Catherine and Sarah Jane, are you happy?
Mm, I seem to be recording. Yeah, right.
Well, disappear because I was curious to know how he'd escaped the salt mines, wannabe boy bands and nightclub appearances. This is very nerve wracking because I've grown up with you, Larry, and it's always some type of exposure and I'm thinking, what have I done? Come on, don't start with the job. I'm immune to that. Thank you for doing this, Roland. It's a it's a pleasure to know. Thanks for having me to meet you, because I've been reading up on you.
I've followed you on TV, of course. But one of the things I learned is know this sounds almost too hard to believe, but that your house is designed partly as a tribute to the Big Brother house.
It is, as I sit here, the life from my diary room.
Big Brother landed like a bombshell on the landscape of television. Right. You're a lot younger than I am. You were born in 1988. I think I was. Yeah, I'm going to get this right. It was around 2000. Was it 2000? It was here. And do you remember watching that series?
Yeah, I remember being in Spain actually, when it started, just like on a little family holiday. And some of the girls that I was hanging around with were talking about this show that it just started and they were saying, yeah, they see people like that running around this house naked. And obviously as a kid, you're like, oh, there's no way like what's going on. I just remember coming home when all I could see and just all I could remember was Big Brother, Big Brother, Big Brother.
And it was on in the papers that you'd see on a Sunday morning that my mom would get. And all I kept hearing about was Big Brother, but I didn't know what it was.
You hadn't actually watched it at this point? Not at that point, no. You were 12, right? Yeah, probably a bit young for it.
But when did you start connecting with Big Big Brother is an actual fan who is engaged in the storylines and following it. It was it kind of obsessive way.
I remember seeing this house on my way to school that was on TV every night because I grew up in East London. So the Big Brother house was literally ten minutes from my house when it was back in the day film that Free Milk Studios bow. And we were just so obsessed with the fact that they were on the other side of the fence. And we went to the Tesco superstore and bought some packs, clothes, pegs and wrote on it, Brian, to win and start firing them over the gate and running away because security started chasing us.
That would have been Brian Bryant. Was that Brian Dowling? Brian Dowling, yeah. And he was very ebullient. Funny.
But did he win it in the end? He did. He did win. He did win it. And his whole storyline, if you like, if we're looking at it from that point of view, was he went into the house as a gay man, but his family, he hadn't told his family.
By the way, can I just say I've I've been calling you Rylan because I meant to say, should I call you Rylan or should I call you Ross?
I mean, mainly my mum calls me Ross. My husband my husband only ever calls me Whilom when we're over in Iraq. He knows it winds me up, but you can call me whatever you want.
Luthra off the telly because I've never thought of them as distinct identities. But reading your book, it's clear that they are the sort of slightly different people, aren't they? Rylant? A bit of a performance for you.
Yeah, I suppose. Yeah, I suppose that's definitely safe to say. I think sort of a year before X Factor, I did a modelling show with Katie Price signed by Katie Price Cybercafe. Right. I was reading about it last night. It sounded like that one was a bit of a big hit back.
It was that one didn't kind of hit the public in quite the same way as Laurie. It wasn't a huge hit, let's put it that it wasn't.
But the whole premise was it was sort of Britain's next top model meets The Apprentice, meets Big Brother. I mean, it was flawed from the start, to be honest. But one thing I did get out of it back then was I did actually get very close to Kate and spending time with her.
I liked the fact that there was Kate and Jordan. And I thought in my head, if that ever happened to me, that's how I would deal with it.
But we were talking about I mean, it was exciting when Big Brother launched. And in some ways, for me, it's still it's still sort of represents a kind of high point of a certain kind of reality TV, maybe because they got their first right and the and there's a purity to it. It's just, yeah. People secluded from the world being given tasks. It's a game show with the word game show doesn't really do it justice. It's so much more than that, isn't it?
Yeah, it's a competition. But originally it was a social experiment as it develops and evolved sort of over twenty years, eight years, it turned into more of a TV show. It was always this concept that has been replicated a million times over across the world in different types of shows with Love Island and things like that. But for me, nothing will ever be as good as the original.
It's sort of we're on the other side of the phenomenon slightly like I think it hasn't been on the TV for a couple of years now, is that right? Yeah, two years now. And but I was looking at all the countries it's been in. It's a bit like looking at a map of the coronavirus. It covers the whole world virtually.
There's a little part of West Africa where it seems not to have penetrated. Yeah, although. In Nigeria and Ghana, or was it is, yeah, like places like Uzbekistan and maybe Kyrgyzstan that it doesn't seem to have, but everywhere else, this one form or another of Big Brother. Yeah, I watched a panel that you were presenting last night, Royal Television Society, I think, where you were interviewing people about reality TV in general. That's quite a new reason, I think is certainly.
But yeah, it was Monday, actually. Yeah. A couple of days ago I did that. And you are some really good questions. And I sort of think I think I'd almost rather hear Rylan answering some of these one of them. So I'm going to recycle your questions. You go for it now.
They said, oh, yeah, one of them was, what do you think was your favorite reality TV moment? And just parenthetically, two of them, not one, but two, said Gillian McKee, When I'm a celebrity, get me out of here feinting when she's been told that she's doing the Bush Tucker trial, which I thought was a very weird choice because I looked at I'd never seen before. And it's really just a woman having an elderly and vulnerable woman having a medical episode like she looks like she's dying.
Yeah, it's a weird one to choose, although I think the thing is that with that sort of moment, I can sort of understand why that would stick in people's minds. And for someone like yourself that maybe wasn't following the series or the story is an elderly woman having a medical episode. But I think if you talk a little bit further, you would probably say that there was a little bit of role play going on as well, was it?
Oh, so OK.
So I think I mean, it was never been proved and for libel reasons don't seem to be the case.
But yeah, it was it was a bit of a story like I love that series.
Oh, OK. Fair enough. Because I saw it and thought I was your idea that this is an elderly woman dying on the table, someone dying on TV. It felt very decadent, almost like, oh really? I'd like to see her being having her head chopped off. But, you know, that's illegal.
I mean, the funniest part of this always is that I think Gillian McCabe was late 40s, early 50s, and we're calling her now.
It's a woman. That's what that probably this is my favorite reality moment right now. Yeah, I'll get it. We'll have to chop it out. Apologise to Gillian McKee. There's a woman in the prime of her life, like, very attractive. What would you say is your favorite reality moment? For me?
I think it was 2004. I remember it so vividly because I broke my ankle. I used to go. Of course, I did trampolining lessons because. Why not? What else are you going to do on a Thursday and Friday?
And on Channel four? It was labelled Black Friday because at nine pm it was the last ever episode of Friends and then at 10:00 pm picked by the five launched. So it was a double whammy night and I just got off the trampoline. I knew I'd broken my ankle. My mum was like, Right, I'm taking you Windimurra. And I was like, No, no, no, I'm fine. And she knew I was lying because I wanted to watch Friends and Big Brother.
And one of the housemates that went in that night was Nadia Nadia Almada. And she was the first transsexual contestant to go into Big Brother. Unbelievably, she went in not telling people. And it was the sort of first time in her life where she was in a social situation where she could be the woman that she is. And I will never forget the night that Nadia won because it wasn't just someone winning Big Brother, it was someone genuinely getting the acceptance there.
And I don't want to sound like I'm being too deep. Our work. We were worthy, but it really was it was so much more than a show for her. And I just remember watching her walk out of that house and obviously crying with emotion. But you could tell it was nothing to do with the show. And something that was built for our entertainment actually was someone's life. That was definitely my my favorite really moment was her win.
And so she no one in the house knew that she was trans. No, no one. Because from being a housemate myself, when someone walks through the door, it very different on celebrity because you pretty much know who each person is. But when someone walks through the door and they say, hello, my name is Dave and I'm from Sheffield, you have no reason to disbelieve that their name is Dave and they're from Sheffield. So when Najia walked in that house, said, my name's Nitya and didn't even have to say she's a woman, it was never a question anyone's had.
So, yeah, it was a massive moment. And I think it was a massive moment as well for the British public who voted her, because we've got to remember that it's the British public that affect them, make them win. And I think that was quite an accepted moment.
Do we know what's happened to Nordia since I do, yeah. I actually keep in touch with Nadia. She had a bit of a tough time post. Big Brother had a good few years of, you know, living the reality life, I suppose you could say, earning some money. And then I think a lot of it caught up with her and I don't speak for her. But now I know she's very happy. She's a she's a very successful hairdresser for a very big hairdressing brand.
And erm. Yeah, she's she's doing it.
How common is it, do you think that people who've who've. Well, on Big Brother, or maybe not doing well on Big Brother, but they come out and struggle to readjust to civilian life.
It's really common and I can say that from experience, because when I was 18, I was going into the Big Brother House, into the civilian version. And long story short, I was in hiding my suitcases all change over, ready to go in. And a story came out which meant I couldn't go in and I didn't end up going in then. But I never forget working on Big Brother now, you know, it's the talk of doom. But back then I didn't.
And there was this woman and she spoke to me like shit, but on purpose because she told me that you will probably be hated, you will probably get voted out first. You won't earn any money. And when you come out, you will not be famous, but you won't be able to go and work in a shop because people will keep coming up to you gaining you. That idea from Big Brother. Are you that next to you that that and it will take you a long time.
And back then it was really scary. I now understand why that's dumb, because at that stage people do go, oh no, I'm not doing it and I'm not going to do it.
The levels of all this sort of secret squirrel stuff is extraordinary. What would be so wrong with you just living at home and knowing that you might be going on it? Like, why do you have to have your phone taken away and live in a hotel for two weeks?
Control things like suitcase inventory can take days because they literally held all my clothes up to light to see if I was smuggling cocaine or everything. But also that lock up.
It's basically training for Big Brother because the last thing as a duty of care, I suppose, is to put someone in a house and 20 hours in, they have a complete mental breakdown, stop packing their head against the wall on a reality TV show, especially back then when it was getting 15 million viewers and every single person in the country.
I look at someone like I could say, you know, God rest her soul.
Like she her life completely changed from that show. She became an A-list celebrity, basically, and earned millions. But that took a toll on her in different ways. And it does. And it is a very difficult process. Well, Jane's a good list.
Let's talk about Jane for a second, because I think she's a really interesting example. She went into Big Brother three, I think. Was it? It was good knowledge. Larry Floro, thank you. And became one of those people who struck a chord with the public sort of for all the wrong reasons, as being perceived as a loudmouth, running around drunk, maybe taking your clothes off and and being pilloried for being supposedly ignorant. She thought Cambridge was in London and then being told it was in East Anglia, said that she thought I was abroad, was a foreign country.
Right. Which I don't know if she was playing a role or whether she was just, you know, sometimes you say silly things without really thinking very hard. But either way, that became the way she was framed. And then she was evicted fairly early. Right. And, oh, she made it to the final, did she? She made it to the final. I think she finished fourth. And it was quite a shock that she didn't actually win it, because I think a lot of people at that point thought she was going to win.
But yes, chef, finale night she left.
So she was enjoyed by the public. But as a sort of caricature. No, she wasn't actually.
That's that's probably not right. She was vilified, literally vilified by the public. But the public, especially on Big Brother. No. To keep those ones in because they make a good series. But as the series went on, she went for a really tough time in the press. And I mean, like headlines, front page news, vile fat pig when she came out. Yeah.
Have you seen the three part Channel four documentary series about. Yeah, I thought it was amazing, brilliant, brilliant, beautiful and actually kind of redemptive story because she sort of parlayed that into a career and makes quite a bit of money and continues to do reality TV, then reappears on Celebrity Big Brother and maybe one of the most famous or infamous examples of reality TV in general. Absolutely. Gets caught up in a bullying scandal for the racial insensitivity towards Shilpa Shetty, an esteemed Indian Bollywood actor.
Yeah, and it becomes an international incident. Gordon Brown on visiting India is asked about it like that for some trade delegation, whatever it is, it was a massive, massive incident is supposed to be a statesman like visit. And all they can talk about is why is Jade Goody abusing our beloved actor, Shilpa Shetty?
Then she goes on Indian Big Brother, which is called Big Box of Irony, and while on TV, is informed that she's got terminal cancer or at least cervical cancer. Yeah. Which may be a kind of low point in the history of Big Brother, the weirdness of televising that, because presumably she didn't know.
I think she did it from work, from being on both sides of that show. I think that's something we wouldn't do here. Big Brother UK definitely not. Right. And they apologize for Louis.
We're talking about a show that. In different territories, has shown live births, has shown potentially someone being raped on the show in in certain territories, that is turned into a massive.
There's been two examples of alleged sexual assault. Yeah. Around the world right now in the UK, not in the UK, not in the UK, no.
But then at the same time on Big Brother UK, there's a lot of incidents that have happened that the public know about, whether we've shown exactly as much as we can or not, that's a different thing. But then that's not hiding storylines. It's more about protecting the public and protecting that person as well.
Actually, if you think of something specific, how long ago is a thing, especially if someone is removed from the house. I mean, we had a big thing on on the last celebrity Big Brother with Rocks and Pallette and Ryan Thomas from Coronation Street about she claimed that he had hit her. And you're living in a house with 150 cameras. We see absolutely everything. And it was very much blown out of proportion. But then there's that argument of getting involved from the outside.
Do you show the housemates what happened to prove that this didn't happen or do you not? Because this is of an experiment. This is a social thing with no outside contact, with no meddling. So, yeah, there's lots of things that happen on shows like this. And Big Brother is probably the least amount of one that that happens on because, you know, shows like I'm a celebrity love island, Geordie Shore, those type of reality shows, they're not controlled in a bubble because you see the winter.
This is when you see people. This is the one that that happens on the list.
You mean what sort of as in Medellin, as in an environment manipulation?
Because the Big Brother house was a purpose built house.
That's part of the psyche of it. Oh, that you are in this world and there's no one around.
Yeah, there's a purity to it. Do you feel like it's an honest format or let me put that a different way. To what extent? You know, people say, oh, they edited me to look such and such a way.
Every single series before housemates went in, I would go and see the housemates before they went in the house. And one line was, unless you say it or do it, we can't show it.
So, yeah, I used to get very offended when people would come out of that house and come on to my show and said that time I edit it really bad. It's like no laugh. You were just horrible. Yeah.
Leo Sayer didn't have a breakdown by Leo Sayer. That is one of those moments. Weirdly enough, that was the celebrity house to the civilian house I was just talking about.
But like I say, are I still find very bizarre that episode. What did you think you were going in? I've never watched the show before. What are you doing?
Because no one is going oh, we still talking about Leo saying, oh, I mean, in general, Eagleson, Leo, don't come for me.
He'll come for me. No.
And yeah, no, no, I'm not I'm not talking, I've no Leo Sayer. I'm not he's always struck me as a very nice guy but yeah. I mean I don't know like I say but I think I'm sure I remember Leo size and I've never watched this before.
I'm like, why would you agree to do it? We mentioned Jade Goody. Did you ever did you know Jean? I didn't know James personally well, but I always admired Jade for obviously what she achieved from nothing was, I think, admirable for anyone. And I think she was very switched on.
I'm trying to think of ways in which, you know, obviously there's so much to enjoy about Big Brother. And at the same time, there are times when they get it wrong and there is a you know, people to some extent know what they're signing on for. But then in another way, you could say, how could you ever really know what that's like until you've been through it? Right. Yeah. And and with with with Jacob in particular, the conflict with Shilpa Shetty and the way in which it was to some extent fomented right.
Deliberately by the production team, by making Jade and Jade's mum, who are working class people from Bermondsey, and they were they were elevated. The role play they did was they get to live in the posh bit of the house. Right. And then, yeah, they went in as the royal family. They were the royal family. And then the real life celebrities, Shilpa Shetty and Co have to be their servants. Yeah. That clearly aiming to create the conflict and it's very entertaining.
But then when it becomes racialized, certainly big brothers like, oh well, we didn't want it to go that far. And it is a tricky balance to strike. I would have thought like, well you did want some conflict. Like how much is too much, you know.
Yeah. Let you bang on the button. Like, I am not sitting here as the spokesperson of Big Brother. That is not my job. But from a fan's point of view, the whole concept of Big Brother always boils down to a group of people in a house. And all we do is show how they deal with things.
And that's it. So obviously, of course. You want conflict, you want romance, you want fun times, you want everything, you want that perfect recipe for it for a show comedy. Exactly. Funny moments. You want everything.
So when an argument is botulin or boiling up, you're rubbing your hands together because a lot something's going to happen.
Like, let's see how they deal with it.
Of course, when it gets to a level that is, whoa, this is not right, that is the right time to step in. But back then, after care, duty of care wasn't what it was now.
And I think we all know that from what we've seen lately with reality TV and and aftercare and things like that.
So do you mean what we've seen lately, as in what the two people who killed themselves up to be on Love Island?
Yeah, I mean, like a lot of people ask me about that in interviews and and say, you know, what was the aftercare like?
And I'm there was a very small period. The night I won Big Brother, I was taken straight in a car to Manchester at 4:00 in the morning and open the X Factor to 20000 people. I'd come from a house with eight people in to automatic doors opening with a microphone in my hand and 20000 people screaming at me and I to perform for a month in arenas across the UK. And I'll never forget the last night of the tour was in Belfast.
We came offstage and it was emotional. That was lovely. And I flew back to London. And that time I still live with my mum at my mum's house. And I got into my bedroom and I put my suitcase down and my mum said, I'm just going to run up the shop and get some milk or whatever it was. I'm for the first time in eight months, I was in a room of my own on X Factor. You're pushed, pulled sharing with this person.
You've always got a runner with usually a lot of research with you making sure that they never leave you out of sight. In the Big Brother house, you're being watched by a million cameras. It feels like the safest place in the world. And then for the first time in eight months, I was on my own and I panicked. I did not sleep that night and I didn't want to get out of bed because I was frightened. There was nothing there for me.
I'd about three days of sort of staring at the wall. I didn't know what to do. And it was about four days later that the phone rang and they said they want to give you a screen test for Big Brother's bit on the side. And it was obviously to host it. And lo and behold, I ended up getting the job. If that didn't happen, I don't know how I'd be. I don't know what would have happened.
You really popped into the public consciousness on X Factor. You say you are hated at that time, but I remember sort of thinking you were fine and playful and flamboyant and that your voice was solid, like not brilliant, but solid. The hair extensions that you're wearing in your audition are unreal. I mean, that was almost I know it was done for a modelling job that you that you'd had. Yeah. But it was a genius move because you look so extraordinary.
I don't even know how to describe the hair like a bleached whale.
Well, you you say at one point it was like the cowardly lions.
Gay BRODTMANN Yeah, well, I'm laughing at my own comments and your singing. Isn't that brilliant on the audition. They don't see that much of it. No, but they keep you.
Erm let me I was standing there in crystalised Swarovski Comverse. My job wasn't to stand there and sing and be a pop star. My job was to be on the front pages of the paper every single morning.
And the day that I realised that what being a sort of outrageous, flamboyant, larger than life, absolutely slightly gay caricature, very gay caricature.
That was my job. And I didn't know that at first. And I wasn't in on the joke, if you like. And the second that it clicked to me and there was a moment where it clicked, that's when I felt fine, let's do it.
Because, you know, I come out a council asking Stepney Green single parent family if I can earn a couple of grand where I can buy myself a new car because my other one's just blown up. Great. Let's play the game. And without sounding like an idiot, I did my job very, very well.
Then you do you do another.
Your next performance is with these two guys, Keithan and a Tav, the entire Vietnam Gaith in case it was not gay.
Oh actually it's weird that you say that I think. Yeah, because Otávio I think is a time.
Yeah. Yeah. Last year it transitioned. Good luck to you. We're seeing respect by Aretha Franklin. Aretha Franklin.
Of course we were. Of course we were. Yeah. I was wearing a t shirt that I'd made with hair extensions on shoulder pads, like epaulets.
It was like like, oh, instead of epaulettes, I'm going to have little wigs hanging down on my shoulders. So I still like that.
Look, why not couple a little ponies, my little ponies. I felt sorry. I will take the criticism for everything, but I actually quite like that.
Look, it looks sort of vaguely military missed the we can do whatever we want if you can get away with it.
But and then what's weird is that Octavia seems to never. The soldier and I'm thinking maybe I haven't done quite enough. These little vocal trills at the end of these riffs just kept coming.
And I just remember standing on the stage and looking to my left and there's no going on right and then left to my right.
And this was actually trying to do their own EKOS light.
And I just feel I'm just going to stand here and try and look pray and I will never forget it straight afterwards.
We obviously find out he's gone through and they said, Ottaviano and Gaith and step forward. You're through to the next round. And I was like, you are. So I cannot believe I let them outshine you. Just do that and take over.
And then they obviously put me through a bit drama.
And I was like, Yeah, yeah. God, I don't I don't think about this a lot. We're talking about what makes you say that you are hated. Like, why do you say that? I was I mean, it seemed to me how could you tell if there was two people in the front pages of the papers at the time that I was on X Factor, it was me and Jimmy Savile and nine out of 10 well, six out of seven days I'd get worse press than him like that.
Says something, Jimmy Savile.
This was 2012, wasn't it, when he'd been unmasked as a paedophile. And what were they saying about you?
What wasn't they saying? Well, they weren't saying that you were a paedophile.
No, I mean, I won't. And so that's the touch. And I'm still not God. But, yeah, it was it was really difficult, I think, because it was an overnight thing.
And don't get me wrong, they weren't saying that you they were not saying that you were devious. Were they devious?
They were just saying, I don't deserve it.
I'm robbing people of places which is fine and talentless talent, which is fine. Like the only reason I found it difficult. I just sit there and think about my mum. I told her, don't read nothing, don't look at anything, just let me do what I do. I know what I'm doing. Let me just say trust me. Trust me, it's going to be difficult. Just let me do it.
You didn't like the idea of your mum and you now I'm reading it, but unfortunately I had to put them through it to get what I got.
Did you ever feel pushed to do anything that you didn't want to do? Yeah. What kind of songs? Performances, outfits. And then do you do the song or do they choose the song? Very much. Pretty much. I mean and the styling of the. Yeah, yeah. You were playing the game. Right. Is it the case that you're not really like literally try to win the game, you're trying to get the best outcome for you?
I won the day I got through to the live shows in my head because I knew that's all I needed.
Do you get a bit more money each week you stay in? No, you don't get paid till next week. So you don't get no money? No. Really?
Yeah. What about when you didn't go on Big Brother the first time? Did you get money for that? No. But if you go in the house, you get a bit of money to you.
I think they'll cover things like your rent and your bills and stuff, obviously. So you're not going to be homeless when you come out. If you're in there for three months and stuff like that, because ultimately there's a cash prize at the end and then the celebrity version, you get paid. Everyone's getting a different amount. Is that right? Yeah. Do you compare how much everyone's getting? I mean, I might be privy to certain information and would you be able to say how much you got paid when you appeared on it?
I got 100000 to be in Big Brother, so to me I'd won the lottery.
That's quite a lot, isn't it? Yeah, I've never said that. I think that's the first time I've ever said how much I got paid. We got our exclusive. But when you realize how much money there is in television and what other people get paid to do the same experience or less than you is quite, quite shocking.
Sometimes Cloche and presumably other people are getting more than others are getting more than that.
Like, yeah, there's people I mean, I've known very big payments to people to do it, say it, get it out there. I mean, some people have been paid half a million and have got evicted first, put it that way.
Who is that? You know, I got like that presumably explains why I say, I suppose someone like Jermaine Jackson or maybe some of the Americans.
Can I just say as well, this is in sort of recent times, obviously, it's been in the papers that someone's got three underground for the camera. Can you imagine what people would get in Channel four days for Celebrity Big Brother? It wouldn't surprise me if people get paid over a million pounds go in that house.
Yeah, definitely me again. Just a quick reminder, you're listening to Grounded with Louie through. And this is a podcast that sounds and BBC Radio four. My guest is reality TV phenomenon, Rylan Clark. Neil, you may have guessed by now I was glued to the world of Big Brother from the moment Nasty Nick walked in. So I felt it was my time to share.
I feel like I should get on the record with my favorite reality TV moment because I was thinking about it. If I'm going to what's right and I should probably have something in my back pocket and I don't if it qualifies as a moment. But for me to peak reality, I think it's Celebrity Big Brother series for where it was.
George Galloway, George Galloway, Rula Lenska, Peatlands, P. Burns, Galloway being the cat doing the cat mime. I actually just the weirdness of that axis of Galloway and Pete Burns picking on.
Oh yeah. Michael Barrymore and Chantelle Jolimont and Jodie Marsh, who was also in that. I mean, Shantelle, just the whole premise of her being a celebrity in house when in fact she wasn't famous. That's brilliant. She was just a random person, right? Yeah. And then and the weird dynamics and a lot of it was the marinating of Pete Burns. He's dead now, rest his soul. But I can say that he seemed quite sinister character.
I think he probably wouldn't even object to that characterization. Yeah. Yeah.
I worked with Pete and he. Did you work with Pete?
What did you make of him? I did. So strangely enough, I've always been a big fan of Pete and dead or alive and obviously growing up watching him in Big Brother.
Well, everyone likes you spin me round. Right. But is there any other clues that are elsewhere? What else would you be able to name?
That's the way I like it. Why did he do a cover of that? I mean, that's a KC and the Sunshine Band song.
It was. Yeah, but I mean, did he need to do any more songs?
I mean, good luck to peatlands people. I mean, he wasn't really famous for the music. Certainly not by the end. No, he was famous for being him and obviously the surgery and things. But yeah, he came on Big Brother and weirdly enough, we ended up singing You Spin Me Round Together, like done a performance on the show. And that was his last ever TV appearance before he passed away. What year would that have been, do you think?
I was 30, so twenty eighteen. Did attend a.
What was your read of him. A really genuine guy, pleasant to everyone he met. And just mesmeric is the only word I can describe him. You want to look at him whether it's for the right or wrong reasons you you want to look at.
I thought he was stunning. I really, really did like him for people who don't who don't know what he looks like.
What how would you how would you describe what he looked like a still we're calling him him like he did identify as male.
Right. But it wouldn't surprise you.
Yeah, he does. Other pronouns would also apply.
And just the fact that he's called pay as well, which is Killzone, I pay.
And, you know, weirdly enough, he is like one of the most laddy blokes. You remember me.
But he I would describe him as a siren with surgery, amazing lips, enormous pillow like lips actually slathered on foundation. So flawless, pale skin, almost geisha geisha like the last time I saw pay.
I think he'd recently had surgery again. And he found it very difficult to open his eyes, really. I remember his eyes were extremely close in the right light. In the right photo, you would think. Incredibly beautiful. Stunning. Stunning. Yeah, but one suspected with the wrong light and the wrong photo. Not so stunning. I mean, how much detail is none of our friends.
Let's be frank. So you didn't is an extra how did he die in the end?
Do you remember? I don't. I don't. But, yeah, I remember when I was in, like Buckinghamshire or somewhere in that hotel with my husband because we were going to that Heston Blumenthal restaurant for my birthday and only to post. I got the phone call the night before. I got the phone call the night before and people died. And you're you're very discreet person picking up from your book. I picked up a couple of things. One is like, you know, just where the line is, like between saying enough, but not too much.
So you share some things, but you keep some things back, right?
Absolutely. Yeah. I hate doing interviews. No, I read that today.
I was like, oh, that's a good start. Why is that? It's not that I hate giving interviews. It's the fact that I did write that.
No, it's the fact of especially with the media, I've got quite a good relationship with the media.
But you do. Yeah. Everyone likes you, I think.
Well, not everyone, but that's somebody who doesn't follow me or know me, will think I do the magazines every week, you know, got ringing a pop up outside me hours to, like, get me bending over in a garage or something like that. And about the mail just to be in the papers are hiding over in a carriage.
Well, what's that supposed to bring to mind?
Well, ask the magazine to do anything for some people, but was that a real thing that happened? Oh, my God, Upshot's, you don't have to fight all this up. Upshot's like people working out in the park with a full face of make up. It's like laugh. Don't lie.
People think you do that. But why bending over in a garage. It's just, just one of those things. But I, I don't, I actually I'm the total opposite but because I host shows part of my contract is you need to do to press interviews or you need to do this to promote the show.
So whenever journalists get on the phone to me, they do enjoy it because they know I'm going to give them the content they need for a year and in three months time. Something I said four months ago will come out as an exclusive like, oh, I'm having a baby. No, I'm not having a baby. I just said, you know, one day I might have kids firm exclusive. He's having a baby. Then I'll get my mum on the phone.
He was so gullible. Are you having a baby? What's happening? It's like, Mum, I've told you if I was having a baby, you wouldn't read it in the Daily Star. You'd I tell you. Do you know what I mean? So that's why I don't love doing interviews.
It gets twisted, it gets misconstrued or or feeds the machine sometimes.
But that doesn't bother me. It doesn't really bother me. But I don't want to be in the papers. I don't want to be in the magazines.
I just want to do my job and go. I can understand that.
Did you did you invite any media to your wedding? No.
My wedding? No, my weddings private. My my my private. And we kept it quiet until the day and I saw a tweet sign. Apparently violins get married today. And long story short, it turned out to be some a guest at the wedding told the press and got pay out and they were all in the bushes. You know who.
Ya know who. Is someone in the industry is that is that biz's at that point? Listen, I know you'll probably edit this out, but I tell them to go fuck himself and that's it. Game over.
I'm done that you do something like that to me.
That's not. Thank you. Next. And the fact that it hurt more because, you know, my cousin from Poplar who ain't got a lot of money, could have earned himself 20, 30, 40 grand, whatever.
Just make him one quick cell phone call. And it actually turned out to be someone in the industry with money just to get their own self in the paper. Really?
Yeah. This wasn't I can't say I've never said no. Come on. I've never said and I won't.
But she knows. She it was a woman. The letter, the letter that I'm not you know, I'm not that type. I'm not. That's how I listen. If I did a book and I was, you know, no holds barred. Terrible. But let tell in your book, you gave your various the men in your life significant others an alphabetical use, alphabetical system to be able to figure it out. So, Mr. A's, your first love and we have you to Mr B and Mr C.
. Yeah, but we only get to F g before Tanikaze, I think. Yeah. It was like they said it was the alphabet going to be enough. Well you we didn't even know there was a few mistakes that they might recall. Yeah. Yeah.
No, you know what I write in that book and being married and being in a proper relationship out of respect, it's not something like some other people do.
You know, we were doing this on the beach. And you're right. You don't talk about you losing your virginity. I noticed it.
Do I not know no one else?
And I like to keep some things private. You say you're a very private person. Yeah, I am. I'm assuming it was Mr A.. Otherwise, why even bother?
It might have been missed. The one you never know. It might be Mrs. X.. I know.
Yeah. Stop thinking about me losing my vision for the good stuff. Let's talk about having said you're a very private person. We should talk about you growing up, which you grew up in, in Stepney in East London. Yeah, it sounded sounded fun and sounded like. Well, up to a point, though, you talk about being ginger and chubby and getting picked on at school. Maybe that's not so fun.
Yeah, it's part and parcel in it. You got a happy home life. Yeah. You loved you lived with your mum and your nan, is that right? Yeah.
Dad wasn't in the picture a little bit when he was a bit to begin with.
You got an older brother, but it's. Is it the same dad.
No different dads. I've got a feeling you're not going to go that far into this, but basically there's a bit where your dad pops up fairly late on year about how old?
Like 14, really? My mom and dad weren't together. My dad sort of used to see me when I was very young. I remember him coming to see me. I think he had another family that didn't know about me, but. Just stopped, it just stopped, I never saw him, that was that. And then when I was 14, I got excluded or suspended from school for having a fight with someone. Someone called me queer or something like that.
So I punched me in the face like I'd never really hit back. And I just thought, I'm not doing it anymore. And my mom was so pleased. She said, come on, I'm taking you to the sandwich shop in church, get you a sandwich.
Like she was happy that I finally felt know. And I remember walking along the Hornchurch High Street, bearing in mind that not seeing my dad for probably 10 years and I was young, young, I just see this man in the distance sort of walking towards us. I said, Mom, I think they sat so casually. She went, Oh yeah, is allowed and said his name.
And he was like, Oh, my boy, my boy, my boy. And I was like holding my face. And I was like, Yeah, yeah.
And I think we spoke for about 30 seconds. And I said, I wouldn't have a sandwich from the sandwich shop. And that was that. There's last time I saw him, what kind of sandwich was it? I think it was a chicken and bacon bits Sueda.
Remember these things, toasted or not lightly knives.
They were your parents married and no ships passing in the night? I don't know. I don't really want to know. I mean, you know, I think I think they did what they did. And I think things came out where maybe my dad wasn't on his own. And that's that's the story, right?
Oh, I see what you're saying. So it may have been that whatever happened between your mom and dad was fairly fleeting. You may not have known what his situation low life was. Yeah, right. I yeah. Yeah. You've never met you've never met any other family. No. Do they know about you now. No. So it I know about them.
Do you know who they are. Me, come on, you stupid, silly question. Yeah, OK, fair enough, a lot of people always say to me, would you ever want to reach out?
But to him or to the family, I think he passed away, I think he passed away from what I heard, but.
I don't think I could now because, I mean, imagine who's the last person you saw on television that you always see on television, but for me.
Well, I watch University Challenge. OK, Sir Jeremy Paxman.
Imagine if Jeremy Paxman knocked on your door and said hi and you wasn't you doing your job, you just worked in a shop or something and said, Hi, I'm your brother.
I thought, you're going to go, Dad. Obviously, you only look 12, but that's how I feel it would feel because they didn't say son, some would have been really rude.
These people know who I am. That's what I'm so sorry.
We like it when this happens. It makes it real. It's all real.
You know, get. With God, Larry, I'm so sorry. That's embarrassing.
It was Jamie, Jamie, he's my brother. He's out there doing building work for me. I'm building my office in the studio and the front doors ring in his arm. And I said to him, Jamie, I'm leaving the gates open. If you say I'm going get say I'm shattered. And I heard he's your driver now, is that right? He is.
Yeah, he is. You're still quite close. Oh, very close. Yeah. Keep it in the family. Definitely take the family with you. Absolutely.
And we were just getting to quite interesting things.
But what was it about my other family. Oh yeah. Jeremy Paxman turns up and says I'm your Long-Lost son.
Yeah, but the point you were making was the point I was making is that even though they don't know me personally, they know me or I presume they would have heard of you.
Of course they would. Yeah.
And I just think it'd be a bit too hot when I'm going to try and play amateur psychologist for a second. Like, do you think did you like for a father figure in any way? Was there any part of you because you, by your own admission, have talked about seeking fame, but yeah, from a fairly young age. Is that fair to say? Yeah. And not even I want to be a singer or a dancer necessarily, but I want to be famous.
It was famous. Yeah. Where's that come from do you think, like is that lack of attention in any way and maybe that's just who you are. No, I don't think it was lack of attention. I got a lot of attention as a kid for the father figure. So I know because my brother's 14 years older than me. So he acted pretty much like a dad to me, sort of bought me things and took me on holiday.
I had a great upbringing and great family.
You talk about your nan and your mum. I know she's got Crohn's disease. How is she doing at the moment? She's actually in hospital today. Weirdly enough, you say that, you know, she's on that. She said she's okay. Thank you, though. She said she just wants pie mash on the way home.
So. So growing up, at what point were you aware of? Sort of, I don't know, like wanting to be famous or like what? You like the Spice Girls. Who else did you like. What were your like.
I was I was a typical located so Spice Girl Steps s Club seven, all of that.
It's not really about the music, is it? It's about something else. What is it about with them or me? Well, when you say when you say Steps Spice Girls s Club seven, did you mention is Club seven. Yeah, I'm not thinking like that really good music. I'm thinking those are slightly plastic pop people that sing and dance and have bright colours and yeah. That's valid, you know, that's enjoyable. You buy the package. It's not necessarily what I'm going to be getting down to like as a teenager anyway, but.
Well, I so I'm not trying to sound dismissive or. No, it's not. I completely understand what you're saying.
Of course I do. When people say in our Spice Girls, it's not great music. Of course that's not great music. You're impersonating me. I noticed that.
I did. You like that? I like great music. That was that was uncanny.
But yeah, I do disagree because actually there are Spice Girls songs that I really love and actually go now. It's actually a good song, but yeah. Tragedy.
Would you take that? Would you take the steps version of tragedy over the BBC's original. I would have to feel for the dance moves. It's illegal, I think, not to do the dance moves when when hearing that song could couldn't tell you that there were dance moves.
OK, wicket, how do I terminate this song.
OK. All right. No, we won't. We won't. Well on that, did you always know you were gay at some level like.
Yeah, yeah, I think so. And that's quite difficult because I didn't even know what gay was. I knew I was different. I didn't know what. I never thought about being with a boy or I'm going to be with a man when I'm older. But I never really thought about having a wife.
Did you have crushes on anyone in the public eye? Weirdly enough, Julia and Nadia Samana. OK, so that's not what I was expecting to get the psychologist that I know. Really. Oh, I remember. I thought you were going to say someone male. I know.
And I remember vividly I had a newspaper at home and I think it was Julia Salalah done like a shoot for the Sun in a gym. And I just remember having a crush on her. And it's really odd. I have actually told her that because I did the film and I was I've got to tell you something, got a physical attraction.
I remember the first time I felt that I can recall anyway feeling physically aroused. Forgive me.
I wouldn't say I was aroused. No, it wasn't like a physical arousal. It was more of like a crush.
What about physical arousal? I don't know. You do go on. I Levy.
I tell you now, I genuinely don't remember. Basically, get in a semi. I don't remember really I don't remember if I remember my mom bringing home a copy of The Sun, which she wouldn't, it seems uncharacteristic, but looking at the page three girl with her breasts out.
Yeah. And I was probably, I don't know, nine, eight, I think, and physical things happening.
I'll actually tell a lie. Tell a lie.
I remembered something. Go on. My mom used to get the next catalog. There it is. Underwear section of the next catalog. Yeah. And things would happen. Oh I'm loving your panties would get tight. Yeah. Why would I retire anyway. Yeah.
I still are thinking. What, what would you be thinking. Actually I just did this for the interview.
Is this for you for later.
I don't know. That's a really good question. I could not tell you what I was thinking.
And I know you say about it being sexual and stuff and arousing, but. I don't remember thinking, oh, I want to touch that or I want to hold that caress that. Yeah, like carpet, I don't remember, I don't remember that.
I really, really don't. Oh, that's funny. You do.
I remember thinking I want to remember one into carpet. Yeah.
I remember to me I don't think I went that far with it. Yeah. It's where kids often think of you know, I remember the first time someone told me about pardon my French blowjobs. Right. When I was probably I don't know anyone except my older exactly last week. And I was like, no, I think, like, that sounds utterly bizarre. My brother's like that. He would have been two years older, maybe 30 to 40 right now.
Happens all the time. Mum and Dad have probably done it was like, OK, that's going to take a little while to to deal with.
Did you ever come to terms with it or other times?
You know, it seems quite innocent now. That's the least of what happens. It's like a handshake in a healthy in a healthy sexual relationship. You know, you would hope that would be, you know, quite high up the menu.
Your handshake Avión, I say a fancy APJ. This is Radio Foreign and you sound. So I'm going to try to steer it back into good luck. The sound of terrain.
The reason I mention it is that, oh, I think there's still quite a lot of prejudice.
Unspoken may be directed against gay people, but it's weird because obviously a gay couple extremely visible in high positions throughout industry politics certainly show business.
Yeah, definitely. I obviously never hit it, if you want to call it hiding it. Yeah, of course. I mean, you've only got a look on social media and I get a bit of grief.
Do you get some. Oh my God. I'm like the official sponsor of grief. I'm like the official sponsor of grief. But to be perfectly honest, a sick part of me enjoys it because it's fine. I don't care. I've got a good career. I got nice ass, good looking husband treats me well, nice family.
So it's is pretty. I hope you're enjoying it. I've really enjoyed talking to you about given that you hate interviews, as I think you said in your book there, I am doing a great job of making it appear otherwise. You're married. Can I say happily married. Yes. You talked a little bit about your husband was doing your head, but I took that as a joke. You can. And you've got a stepson. So was Dan not gay at one point?
He was nineteen.
Really? He was nineteen when he had Kameron something that happened. So yeah he was twenty one the other day, which is crazy.
Cameron is your stepson. That's a nice. It must be nice to have a marry into a family, not just a partner. Yeah. Like you know the old cliche. You're not my dad you know, directed at a step dad.
Yeah. We don't have that.
I think we don't get that because probably because of the gay thing. I'm not here to replace his mum. Yeah. I'm the typical typical step dad, the typical whatever. Dad, you know, he can talk to me about, you know, sexy time and things like that, like, oh, I met this girl and I'm like, you have not made me a granddad up for a punch. And yeah, like it does my head in, brings girls home sometimes.
And I'm like, what are do in life. There's a pair of heels at the door. I'm going to slap you get around. And then he says, can I borrow 20 quid. It's a very normal family set up.
We I was also conscious, like digging into the research before we talked, that you have paid a price for your fame as well. And there's aspects of it that have been maybe not easy. And I don't know how serious it is, but you refer to one point to insecurities and agoraphobia. Yeah, I hate people knowing I have, which is the one thing I actually wanted as a child and it's something I have to deal with and it has caused me issue through no one else's fault of my own head that I feel like there's certain things I can't do this.
I can't remember the last time I went to a shop, I can't remember the last time I did anything really normal, I suppose I was lucky enough to build my dream house where I've got everything here that I ever want. And I'm very much like, no, come to ours. We don't need to go out for a meal. Sometimes I'll cook like really that.
And it's like I just need to work them really well.
But I was just so adamant that someone's going to say something or. Do something that will upset my husband or upset my family, when you're watched by people and everyone is a photographer.
Now everyone's a videographer, you worry and like, I could literally be walking past a table and drop my phone.
This is so ridiculously out there. I have never happened to me and dropped my phone and bent down to pick up my phone and the tape in the restaurant on I am.
Picking my phone up from could have a line of thought, it sounds so ridiculous on the table that has spilled across seven, it looks like a line of cocaine and is if I violence on the air like it's done on my head, just mix up these scenarios in my head and it just panics you.
Not so much worried about the the public? I used to be I used to be worried about the public. Sometimes you still get the idea that gay people and you're just like, fuck off, I'm rich.
So I now nine times out of ten people are really lovely because they like what I do or whatever.
But yeah, a lot of the time it is my own head.
When you wanted fame, can you remember what you supposed it would be like that made you want it.
No, I try and remember like I wish I'd made the most. Of not having it because I didn't I didn't I was so desperate to get where you I suppose it wasn't like it wasn't I want money.
It was I want to be one of those people. Yeah. I want it to be I want to be in that village of glamorous, glamorous people. They are mixing with three different Jerry.
And yet h all of the above, like, you know, I wanted to be one of those people that didn't have to queue up to go into a club that was given a table and oh my God.
Like people with. And like I remember being in Louis Vuitton, and this is such a weird thing, because after X Factor that six months after I'd not bought myself anything for six months and I've always wanted to leave one suitcase, I always wanted one, because to me that was the like standard of someone celebrity and successful. I interleaved Tom and she someone came in and was like spoken to the PR department. They're happy to give it to you. And I was just tired.
I felt upset and I sort of had a problem with that. Now I want to pay for it and I'm never going to give it to you. I was like, no. I want to buy it. This is mine. I've worked for this. I want to buy it. I don't expect anything for free. I don't expect any handouts.
I just wanted to buy myself something to say. Well done, rockslide.
What would what would be wrong with accepting it as a gift? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing would be wrong with it. But that's not what I work for.
Sometimes people send me free things, right. Not Louis Vuitton luggage. And that's known. That's fine. So I accept them. And I know like and then small things like condiments for the kitchen or little cakes or whatever happened to me. And then there's a part of me thinks I'm supposed to put that on social media. Yeah.
And I have to and I haven't put it on because I tend not to do a lot of that.
I'm sure we've both been brought up to say thank you you. But you don't want to take it for nothing. You think why do they expect? I think they might expect me to do that. And now they're thinking, why didn't we bother sending me that thing? Because they're checking my Instagram feed and and I'm not posting it for the most. I'm happy to buy it. And so afterwards, I feel like I wish I'd just said no. You know, I wish I.
Yeah. Is that is that a related thing? Do you think? Do you think. Yes, 100 percent.
But I think in that aspect of that particular moment and the fact that it was. Gifted. And that's not when I'm grateful that I could go out every single night of the week to a different club, the different opening of an envelope. Come back with 20 iPads, all the shampoo and conditioner in the world, and I won't have to put my hand in my pocket. I could be a billionaire by next year because I've never had to buy anything.
I don't want it.
Corona's quite good for people who don't like going out. Oh yeah. Like God. It's an acrophobic dream to someone like that. He's got such a complex about something else. Dun dun bitrate. But yeah.
No, I just think the world we're living in at the moment is very odd.
And maybe the world order will announce on the 1st of January 2021. It's actually the new 1st of January 2020 and we just erase this year no one gets a year old.
So I think we're in pretty good shape. Right. Like, I'm aware that we covered a lot of ground. Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?
No. Honestly, I just want to say thank you for even thinking of me.
We haven't talked about me very much. I noticed. Have you seen any of my programs?
I've seen a lot of your programs.
I actually remember off record now that off the record, we just worry because I may say something. I would. And then we'll go off.
I did it. You actually spoke about remember being around as a child. I remember going to bed one night and you did a documentary on gay porn. I think it was on BBC television ten o'clock at night. I was in bed and putting it on with the volume down, turning it off because I was scared my mum was going to walk and just be like, what's going on there?
Go on that. That was a while ago. That would have been the first time that when I was 98 because you could have been ten years old. I remember that.
Was that off the record?
Now you can keep that cast off. Yeah, that's way on the record. That's great.
I remember the television in my bedroom. It was a small little portable TV with a real push button. And I remember trying to turn it over.
If I had like a creek thinking I'm like, you were watching on your own. Yeah, I was in bed bed with the volume down. That was Troy Hulston was the name of the performer. I just no, like a lot. There was a log cabin exactly where some gay guys were skiing and then there was a jailbreak from a local jail and a convict arrives and it's all right, you get going. And they all it's the most extraordinary thing happens.
They all start getting very frisky. Isn't that what happens in real life?
Don't very well. You know, you're asking the wrong person who I was in a non-sexual role as the local park ranger, and I had to arrive and announce that there was a jailbreak for the moment. Is he as cute as this picture was? One of the lines that one of the guys said, I have to say I'm just down warning everyone there's been a jailbreak from the local prison.
And here's a composite out to any of that, because the volume down, the volume down, you were just looking at the pictures, like the images. You weren't listening.
Well, I think it was like two seconds of it. But it's only when you said that, it just reminded me of that.
There you go. That's that's made me feel part of the brain. Thank you so much. Honestly. No, thanks again, Rylan. I really appreciate how we can cross paths again down the road. Yeah, stay safe. I hope your mum's condition is good and love to you and your family.
Let me just stop that recalled my end.
Maybe I play a small role in it. Maybe you're the reason I'm going in making you game. Then we go. Yeah.
Lutherville made me say that this has been a mind house production for BBC Radio four. The program was produced remotely by Catherine Mannan and Sarah Jane Hall. Next week, Ruby Wax gives me a run for my money. But if you can't wait till then, there's always the first series to catch up on. From Lenny Henry to Miriam Margolyes, ksee to Rose McGowan. Just search for Grounded with Louis through wherever you get your podcasts and subscribe.
From BBC Radio for a new series From Intrigue May Day on November the 11th, 2019, James Le was found dead in Istanbul. He was the British army officer who helped set up the White Helmets in Syria.
Ordinary people trying to save civilians in the aftermath of bomb attacks. The biggest heroes in an ugly war. But lots of people here in the UK say all the White Helmets videos staged part of the greatest hoax in history by ones.
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