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Chris Stark: How to be a Radio 1 DJ

Monday 04 August 2014
Words Lizzie

Chris Stark. Known to many as that endearingly funny guy that works with Scott Mills on Radio 1. But then he was sent to interview Mila Kunis and his life hasn’t been the same since; he’s fronted his own ‘chat show/documentary’ Celeb Hunter on Channel 4 and is now captain for E4’s new panel show Virtually Famous. Nice one Chris!

So, our 9am phone date commenced with some small chat about our incapability of productiveness at early hours, but somehow despite our complaints of being ‘ a bit asleep’ and against all odds, we actually got the interview done. Or how I prefer to call it, we had a conversation.

Chris, I was thinking of ways to get this interview started and as you are someone partly known for your interviewing expertise… perhaps you could give me some tips on what NOT to do?

Anything that I do! Seriously, first thing is first, you’re meant to do your research aren’t you? I think that really helps because when you’ve got nothing to say it’s really handy to have some pointers to go to. Often in the past, I’ve had nothing prepared and I’ve literally just talked about what I did the night before.

Yeah…and it also seems to be the ladies that make you nervous. When you interview the blokes-people like Ricky Hatton- these are guys you obviously feel you have something in common with and those interviews are brilliant! So is it interviewing ladies in particular that is more difficult?

You think the ladies are the problem? I think that’s a good point. When I’m put in front of Jennifer Aniston or Mila Kunis it is hard to know what you should really talk about because I’ll be honest with you, its all very well that they’re in these films and all that but I don’t really like many films. I’m not really a film person, so I guess I’m more interested in how I can relate to them and that’s where a lot of the questions come from…but I think you’re right, it is harder when they’re fit female celebrities!

chris mila

You worked your way up from student radio, hospital radio and then you landed what I can only assume was your dream job with Scott Mills on Radio 1!

Oh my gosh, yeah! I have always wanted to work in radio, and I’ve always wanted to work for Radio 1. I did hospital radio, student radio and a few other bits and bobs but basically just kept spamming Radio 1. As a student I didn’t have a TV because I couldn’t afford TV license so I use to listen to radio, and to Scott Mills all the time.

Basically, to pay for all the free work experience, I use to DJ in nightclubs and it got me a little bit of money but also, I met Scott because he happened to be DJing at one of the nights where I was resident DJ. I’d been messaging him and that night we got on quite well, and I think he found me quite funny…so yeah, he started putting me on the show every now and then. It just built up from there; I had some ideas and he found those ideas funny. Then the big boss Ben Cooper had heard some of the work I was doing on Scott’s show, so he gave me the chance to record some stuff for Radio 1 and it went from there to him giving me a job!

That’s brilliant!

A lot of people might not know this, but I’m such a radio nerd. I love radio and for me, being at Radio 1 is like playing for Man United!

I remember when I first started, I got given the desk and I was sat opposite Fearne and I couldn’t talk to Fearne, I found it so weird! And now I’m friends with al this people…It’s a great job because I that person that has just been taken off the street and put on Radio 1. I never set out to be just a presenter, I just wanted to do funny stuff and make funny radio!

And now you’ve moved onto our screens! How did you come up with the Celeb Hunter: Two Chairs, One Chat? 

Well its not actually as thought through as perhaps it sounds…

I did this Mila Kunis interview and it went so viral…that was a really strange week. It happened very quickly. People got in touch and asked me if there was anything else I’d like to do. So I had this little idea, which turned into the Channel 4 show, Celebrity Hunter. Again, with Radio 1’s support and Channel 4 were just brilliant! I got given a lot of freedom; I got to film a lot of it with my mates and we just arsed around with a camera for a month or two with a bucket list of celebrities I wanted to interview. We could have contacted people through Radio 1 but this was meant to be as if any of your mates could do this in the pub-that was the aim of it. And then ridiculously they put it on the TV!

Well I thoroughly enjoyed the show because your style of interviewing is very unorthodox which is why it is brilliant

Thank you! I really enjoyed it and I’m definitely up for doing it again.

Revolutionise chat shows Chris! 

Every chat show is the same. And they’re great, they’re the professionals and they should be doing that, but I just wanted to make something that was more on my terms and try and go into their environment rather than insisting celebrities come into yours. So the only thing I could identify was the same in all shows, with presenters I couldn’t really compete with, were the two chairs so got two chairs!

And now you’re on a panel show, Virtually Famous, also on Channel 4! What was it about the show that appealed to you?

When I first got approached about Virtually Famous I though ‘hmmmm, not really sure.’ I didn’t really see why someone like me should be on a panel show and I did think it was some kind of joke. Whenever I watch panel shows no one ever cares about the points! So I said yes, but ‘I really wanted to try win it, I really wanted people to care more about the points.’ Again, its Channel 4 and E4 being really cool with me, and I was really pleased they asked me.

I’ve had such a laugh making this series and I’ve made great friends with Kevin (McHale) and Seann (Walsh) so I’d be really upset if we didn’t get to do it again. Recording the last show I genuinely felt a little bit emotional! I am so excited for people to watch this series!

And the guests have been so funny! I’ve literally been sat there crying with laughter!

CHINA'S VALLEY OF THE KINGS

I was at the recording of episode 2, when you got punched by David Haye! And I remember in your interview with Ricky Hatton you asked him ‘Whats it like to be punched?’ so you can answer that now yourself!

The top of my chest went all yellow! It bruised quite a lot…and you know what’s embarrassing? He didn’t even hit me that hard! They had to call a medic on…it was not planned! I think this is were I’ve gone a bit wrong at times because they plan everything and then I stand up and ask if its OK to be punched by David Haye, and you have to watch their faces turn to horror. I mean I thought he was going to punch me in the arm or something. I just wanted to know what it would feel like to be punched, I didn’t realise he was going to wind me!

It was painful to watch…and when they wanted to do a retake I couldn’t bear it! Same episode, there was the guy that flew the paper aeroplane into the football field, which you loved! So what sort of videos do you enjoy watching on the Internet?

I do tend to see what everyone else watches, so I click a lot on what people put up on Facebook. Especially football videos with outrageous skill! I love those but the videos on Virtually Famous are the best videos the Internet has to offer.

Well I don’t watch many YouTube videos so I feel this is quite educational for me! Are you quite in the loop with all the content on the show?

I love watching videos on YouTube but I’m the classic case of a mate shows me a video in the pub and then I’ll show it around. I think everyone watched a certain amount of these videos, that’s why they have millions of views but I can’t say I’m the most Internet savvy…I suppose that’s what’s good about the show; people can enjoy the show without having to be an Internet nerd.

As someone who grew up without the Internet, as I did, does this YouTube/Internet culture shock or concern you at all?

I think we’re still in a big transitional phase with it…I can see a day where everyone has to have an Internet passport or something like that. I’m not saying that’s a great idea, just saying there is a lot of stuff that can go up with very little accountability and that is something that will have to change eventually.

I don’t know…I’ve got mixed views on it. There is so much to be celebrated because of the Internet, then as expected there is a lot of nasty stuff as well. I guess I do believe people should be accountable for that; its still very anonymous, at least on the surface for your average user.

But I do think there is far more good than harm; YouTube and Internet videos I just think are brilliant. You don’t need to be told the news anymore; you can find it all out for yourself and learn anything! People have free access to whatever they want to see and whatever they want to learn and that is a really positive thing!

Virtually Famous airs 10pm, Mondays on E4

Words: Irune Rue Chamberlain