What do you get up to on The Art Show?
It’s about contemporary art and, whether you’re an aficionado or a novice, there’s something for everyone. We’ve been around the world and it’s beautifully shot.
But you don’t seem to have gone anywhere. You do all your bits in London, right?
Yes. I also have another job, so I did all the London shoots — in the rain. You can tell from my hair that in some episodes I’ve been badly rained on. But I did plenty of interesting things — I spent a day looking at how they restore art at Tate Britain and met loads of people.
Did you learn anything?
I did. I didn’t know anything about art but I got an overview of how the art world works — how something is deemed valuable, how collectors assemble their collections. Then I filmed with new artists at the Royal Academy of Arts. We did a lot with the Jealous gallery, where you can buy affordable prints by big-name artists, which democratises the process.
The best bit was when Derek Ancorah said Michael Jackson was hanging out with Elvis Presley
What’s your forthcoming book about?
It’s called Diversify and it’s about the social, moral and economic benefits of diversity. I’ve been working with Oxford University and the London School of Economics and we’ve got some really cool research. It’s about having difficult conversations around gender, class, race and disability, and about how we can connect better. With all the mad stuff going on at the moment, we no longer have the luxury of ignorance because it’s affecting us all in ways it wasn’t before, whether that’s terrorist attacks, Grenfell…
What conclusions have you come to?
There are practical steps — you bring down walls by understanding each other. But everyone has a certain level of prejudice and unconscious bias. The final part is what can be added economically if we allow everybody to contribute to the best of their ability.
Will people be surprised you’ve written this?
Maybe. But I started doing the entertainment stuff on T4 20 years ago and I’m 40 now, and people do grow up and change. It’s accessible, it’s not War And Peace. Anyone can read it.
When you were on Loose Women, you discussed your brother’s suicide quite frankly. Has there been any progress made on mental health issues?
We’ve come a long way in that at least we’re having conversations now and it isn’t as taboo as it used to be. But there’s no question it’s the most serious issue facing young men and, for some reason, we still haven’t got to the bottom of why male suicide is still happening in such large numbers. At least people are discussing it — men including Prince Harry and Freddie Flintoff are opening up about their vulnerability and emotions, which you wouldn’t have seen 15 years ago.
You presented the TV show Michael Jackson: The Search For His Spirit in 2009…
Funnily enough, I met the producer recently and we had a good laugh about it. It was the highest-rated show for Sky that year but it definitely wasn’t my finest hour. And I’d like to point out it was presented to me as a serious show about Michael Jackson’s life. I interviewed his friends, family, went to where he grew up, looked at his musical influences. The second part was the live seance… My face throughout it was like, ‘What’s going on?’
Did that convince you of the supernatural?
No, it did not. The best bit was when spiritual medium Derek Acorah said: ‘He’s hanging out with Elvis Presley now.’ Well, of course he is. What else would be doing?
Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?
More seance shows! No. We’re doing a documentary based on the book. I like the idea of helping create conversations between people of different backgrounds — so I hope I can do more of that in the next part of my career.
The Art Show is on Sky Arts on Tuesdays at 8pm, until August 1