Jeremy Vine's new show 'What the hell is going on?!' touring the UK
- Credit: Jeremy Vine
Jeremy Vine is due back in the studio shortly. But as he nips back to his dressing room between filming episodes of the quiz show Eggheads, he is more than happy to speak to Let's Talk magazine's Rachel Banham about taking to the stage with his new show, entitled 'What the hell is going on?!', which he is touring around the country.
Jeremy is one of the UK’s most successful broadcasters, and more recently, a novelist.
He currently presents the most popular radio news programme — his Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio Two has more listeners than Today on Radio Four — and in 2018 took over Channel Five’s The Wright Stuff, a two-hour daily chat and current affairs show, now simply called Jeremy Vine.
He also fronts Eggheads, which since its launch in 2003 has become one of the longest-running quiz shows in British TV history. Originally on BBC TV, it can now be seen on Channel Five.
In more than 30 years at the BBC, Jeremy has also presented Newsnight, Panorama, Crimewatch and Points of View.
He’s been shot at in Croatia and had chewing gum placed on his chair in Zimbabwe (by one of Robert Mugabe’s supporters).
But increasingly he finds himself asking “What the hell is going on?” as information and misinformation get mixed together and the sheer volume of news that gets thrown at us all is mind-blowing.
In the show he will try to make sense of a world that increasingly makes no sense at all — where, as he puts it, “my listeners have better stories than I do”.
Jeremy says: “It’s really me talking about the crazy world we’re in; me talking about the news and why did the news go crazy? When you put together Brexit, COVID, Trump and Leicester City winning the Premiership, you’ve got all the unexpected things happening at once and it’s just trying to make sense of what is going on. That’s the key thing.”
He adds: “And also people want to know what it’s like to do Eggheads. I’m just doing a run of 62 shows at the moment – which is why I’m tearing around – or Radio Two or Channel Five or all these things. So it’s talking about the news and what makes the news.”
Jeremy is used to being behind a microphone and in front of a camera, and he is now looking forward to being in front of a live audience.
“When I step out I think I’m going to get the audience to give themselves a round of applause because of the sheer excitement of seeing other people in the room,” he says.
“We forget, we’ve got out of the habit of it. It’s better than anything. At the moment a real audience is better than broadcasting because we have missed each other so much.”
He explains he is especially looking forward to the show as, like so many of us, he hasn’t been to gigs, theatres, plays or concerts for so long.
He says: “It’s a lovely atmosphere now when you get in the room with a bunch of people you haven’t met before.”
Visits to Norfolk and Suffolk
Jeremy was at the Way With Words Festival in Southwold in 2012 to promote his memoir about the BBC called It’s All News To Me.
He has visited the Norfolk coast too.
“I’ve been on holiday to Sheringham and Wells-next-the-Sea … that whole coast is absolutely a wonder,” he says, adding: “Of course, there’s a serious broadcasting history with Alan Partridge as well, to whom I seem to be often compared!”
Jeremy is now about to return to the studio, but there’s just enough time to discuss the success of his Radio Two programme, which replaced Jimmy Young’s in 2003.
“We’re lucky, Radio Two has a kind of amazing place in British culture, I think, in society,” he says.
“People go back an awfully long way with Radio Two, back to Terry Wogan, bless him, and John Dunn – and Ken Bruce is still there – Jimmy Young, Sarah Kennedy ... these great broadcasters.
“I feel it’s such a privilege. I get into the lift and I see Paul Gambaccini or Gary Davies, Steve Wright… I’ve always been a total radio nerd and now I’m working with my heroes. I feel grateful every single day I go into the building.
“I think Radio Two has grown over the past 20 years and the audience get to know you after a while. I used to think it might take a week, then I thought it might take a year and then I think it’s probably a decade. But after nearly two decades they really know you and that’s a beautiful relationship.
“Radio allows the presenter to be known in a way that TV doesn’t.”
He is also delighted to present Eggheads on TV.
He says: “That’s rebooted on Channel Five and it’s going great guns. I’m so proud to be part of it because to have a quiz that’s gone nearly 20 years is quite amazing. We started with Dermot Murnaghan presenting in 2003.
“I think I might have asked 40,000 questions on Eggheads so far.
“Each show, we do about 40 questions and I’ve done about 1,000 shows.
“I think that British people just like to quiz, that’s the thing, it’s just the national passion, you know.”
As we speak, Jeremy is at Television Centre, the old BBC building. It’s a place which also holds memories for him.
“I’m just where I would have been doing Newsnight 20 years ago,” he says.
“I’m coming up some stairs, towards the studio. I’m going to put my microphone on and walk in and the contestants will all be sitting there.”
All too quickly our time is up. There’s no doubt how busy Jeremy is, so just one last question ... how does he fit it all in?
“It’s all fun, that’s the thing. There’s always time for fun,” he says.
“I’m just lucky to do it all.”
Listen to the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio Two from 12 noon to 2pm, Monday to Friday.
Jeremy Vine is on Channel Five from 9.15am, from Monday to Friday.
A new series of Eggheads is due to be broadcast on Channel Five this year.