A Kettle conversation with TV’s Alex Brooker

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Written by Rozina Sabur

“If you enjoyed the last series you’ll absolutely love this one. It’s going to be more fun, more ‘Is it Ok?’ and great guests.

“If you enjoyed the last series you’ll absolutely love this one. It’s going to be more fun, more ‘Is it Ok?’ and great guests. If you want to sit there just for laughs, watch it.”

Alex Brooker talks about the new season of the Last Leg, his latest TV foray and disabilities on TV.

What do you think recent news of athletics drugs testing reveals about the sporting world in general’s credibility?

Athletics has come a long way in 20 years, all the stuff with Ben Johnson and stuff like that. It’s a shame to see people getting tested positive for stuff. The flip side of it is thank God it’s not Usain Bolt – thank God the best in the world is still clean. That’s the redeeming part. I kind of look at it and think there’ll always be other sprinters that will be competing and wanting to do it the right way. Especially after the Olympics last year, it’s a real shame. Sporting in general is going brilliantly though, isn’t it? I watched Andy Murray in Wimbledon in Croatia from a mate’s phone. England-Irish Lions, England won the test. It’s good times in sport at the moment. Other than the fact that my team Arsenal are crap.

How did your up-coming documentary, Man V Fat go?

It was good; it was a hard 8 or 9 weeks but it was a lot of fun. I’d never trained or anything like that before. I lost a really good amount of weight. I started filming and I didn’t think I was that fat, but looking back I bloody well was. I feel loads better for it, I feel very confident at the moment.

It says everything that I finished filming now, and I start training again tomorrow after a couple of weeks off, for my own personal reasons now.

I’m really pleased with what I’ve seen of the documentary so far. There are a lot of funny bits and a few emotional bits on there as well. All the weight loss programmes I’ve seen on telly in general are about extremes – like guys who are 20 stone. I can’t really relate to that – I wanted to relate to the average person to show that anyone can do it.

Do you feel programmes like this even out the balance a bit more?

I think blokes are becoming more self-conscious as years go on, for all manner of reasons – like Facebook. I like the fact that I’m just an average bloke, and we’re all conscious. Especially being on telly myself as well. I loved HD before I was on it. You can see everything on it – every little bump.

You’ve said before that you went into the Paralympics as a disabled presenter and came out as a presenter who just happens to have disabilities. Should the media industry be doing more to reflect all members of society by having more reporters with disabilities?

With Channel 4, you do get disabled people working in the media behind camera. The people that Channel 4 trained up like me was a gamble not because you’re putting on disabled presenters, but because you’re taking people who have never been on TV before. They took a risk and I’m pleased for them that it paid off. They’ve been amazing, they really look after me and my career. It should open doors now for more presenters. People will see the last leg, and see me and Adam talking about our leg – it’s almost just about sport now, it’s not weird and that’s good. Being disabled isn’t that much different so it shouldn’t be treated as such on camera.

Yes, like you said – you’re a presenter first and foremost and your disability shouldn’t identify you.

If I’d been boring and not got any work it would have been because I was boring not because I was disabled. The way I got into TV was because Channel 4 were looking for presenters [with disabilities] the reason I stayed in television is because I’m good at what I do.

You’ve interviewed the Prime Minister and work alongside celebrities. What are the biggest perks of the job?

There’s been a lot of cool stuff. When I was in journalism I went to the Champions League. I still get star struck now. I’m sat next to these people and I’m like wow. I go into an office for 2 days and sit there laughing. I do a show and I sit there laughing.

What advice would you give to aspiring journalists, particularly sports journalists?

It’s a hard industry. There’s not a great deal of money out there, if you want to earn big money, journalism isn’t the job. Put the hours in, it’s very competitive, but why wouldn’t want anybody want to watch sport for work? Make the most of work experience; I did on the Liverpool Echo they kept me on after it. That was my route into journalism. You can get big stories if you’re persistent enough. I suppose the other thing to say is don’t get down beaten. I got rejected by Sky Sports – that really knocked me back. Be yourself – own stamp.

Man V Fat airs at the end of the month as well as The Last Leg. Photo is courtesy of Channel 4.

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