How reality TV produced a new generation of presenters

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Several Love Island contestants have now secured TV presenting gigs since leaving the villa. But why do some reality and talent show contestants succeed as presenters when so many others fail?

Nobody who watched Love Island this year is going to forget Maura Higgins in a hurry.

Whether it’s for her sense of humour, her accent, her “flutters” or her larger-than-life personality – she was undeniable dynamite on screen.

Which is perhaps why she’s been signed up for a role on This Morning, presenting a segment called “Maura Than Meets The Eye” (brilliant). She’ll be seen taking on a series of challenges around the country, as well as fronting her own phone-in.

Her fellow Islander Ovie Soko hosted a cooking segment with Ruth Langsford on This Morning last week, while Curtis Pritchard has signed up to the second series of The Greatest Dancer, where he will meet and interview the contestants.

But in an industry which is so difficult to succeed in, what qualities might they need to connect with viewers?

Image copyright ITV
Image caption Love Island contestant Maura Higgins has joined ITV’s This Morning

“You need to be relatable, and that’s a quality a number of memorable reality stars have had from the beginning,” says Jill Robinson, senior showbiz reporter at The Sun. “They have just been themselves on screen, whereas if you can tell someone is just chasing fame from the beginning, it switches you off.”

Laura Jane Turner, TV editor at Digital Spy, says being a genuine fan of the show you’re appearing on is one of the key things that can endear reality TV stars to viewers.

“When Amy Hart, from this year’s Love Island, made a guest appearance on Loose Women, she made no secret of the fact that she’d been a fan of the show for 15 years,” Turner says.

“That likely resonated with viewers, and it won the panel over too, as Amy was invited back as a guest panellist.”

This year’s Islanders will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of some of the other former talent show or reality TV stars who have carved out highly successful presenting careers for themselves.

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Image caption Ovie Soko presented a cooking segment with Ruth Langsford on This Morning last week

Rylan Clark-Neal, for example, has become one of TV’s most familiar faces since he first appeared as an X Factor contestant in 2012.

As that year’s novelty contestant, his career could easily have gone the same way as Wagner and Honey G. But Rylan endeared himself to viewers (and the show’s judges) in a way that others had struggled to do.

“Even Gary Barlow, who had little in the way of nice things to say about his audition, praised his personality – and it’s arguably that which carried Rylan through to the live shows,” says Turner.

Most stars of The X Factor want careers in the music industry, and some succeed – like Little Mix and Olly Murs. So although TV presenting wasn’t the career Rylan might have expected, his likeable personality on The X Factor and his successful stint on Celebrity Big Brother which followed helped start a career on the small screen.

Image caption Rylan has signed up to host a reboot of Supermarket Sweep

His has since proved his hosting talent by fronting This Morning and Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, before he was snapped up by the BBC for Eurovision commentary, along with Strictly: It Takes Two and his own Radio 2 programme.

“Listen to his show and it is clear why strangers view him as a friend: he is warm, witty and gets his mum to phone in and natter on about ham and cheese toasties,” wrote Tim Jonze in The Guardian.

While winning Celebrity Big Brother helped Rylan on his way, Stacey Solomon and Scarlett Moffatt both won their series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! – and both subsequently caught the attention of TV casting directors.

Both had started out on different shows. Solomon came third (behind Joe McElderry and Olly Murs) in the 2009 series of The X Factor, while Moffatt appeared with her family on Gogglebox.

Since winning I’m A Celebrity, Moffatt has kept busy as a co-presenter on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Iain Stirling’s Celebability, I’m a Celebrity: Extra Camp and Streetmate.

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Image caption Stacey Solomon and Scarlett Moffatt have both won I’m A Celebrity

Solomon did briefly go on to a recording career after The X Factor, but her biggest success has been away from music. She was a natural TV personality – co-hosting dating show Love Machine with Chris Moyles and working as a guest panellist on Loose Women one summer.

She was so popular with viewers that ITV wasted little time in making her a permanent fixture on the panel.

“With people like Rylan, Alison Hammond and Stacey Solomon, they never took themselves too seriously when they were on reality TV, and self deprecation goes a long way,” says Robinson. “Being willing to laugh at yourself or make a joke at your own expense can be endearing.”

Interestingly, three of the most notable presenting success stories came out of the same series of Big Brother.

It’s an intriguing quirk, given that there have been literally hundreds of BB contestants over the last 20 years. But there must have been something in the CCTV cameras in the summer of 2002, when Alison Hammond, Adele Roberts and Kate Lawler took part in the third series.

Hammond’s utterly infectious laugh was just one factor that made her an ideal candidate for a presenting role on ITV’s This Morning.

Whether she’s pushing a topless man into a river, almost getting arrested in Pisa or making Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling crack up during an interview, Hammond’s enthusiasm has endeared her to viewers since she first graced our screens.

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Image caption Adele Roberts, Kate Lawler and Alison Hammond all came from the same series of Big Brother

“She breaks down that barrier between fan and A-list star – who she now gets to meet and interview – and seems like a normal person,” says Turner.

“She sometimes says the wrong thing, makes mistakes on-air or even falls over, but all of that just adds to her charm.”

You can’t argue Hammond didn’t warn us about her propensity for mishaps – given that she shot to fame in 2002’s Big Brother by, amongst other things, breaking a table.

Roberts and Lawler have largely stuck to radio since leaving the house. Roberts currently hosts the early breakfast show on Radio 1, and recently secured a rare British interview with BTS for a BBC documentary.

Lawler, who won the series, joined Kerrang! Radio in 2007 and presented both its breakfast and drivetime programmes, before going on to Key 103 and her current home on Virgin Radio – a station which received a huge boost in listeners when Chris Evans joined as its new breakfast show host earlier this year.

“I think one thing a lot of the successful ones have in common is an outgoing nature without being brash or cocky, they have a confidence without being too in your face,” says Robinson.

“Plus, they’ve all maybe faced some adversity along the way and the general public like to get behind that. It’s nice to see people on screen who you wouldn’t necessarily say looks or sounds like a typical TV presenter.”

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