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Presenter Vick Hope’s Favourite Things

·10-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Vick Hope may be best known (or her voice at least) from her work on the Capital Breakfast show from 2017 to 2020 - and if you’ve been missing her dulcet tones, we have good news.

Hope has launched a new podcast on BBC Sounds with Warner - Songs to Live By - to celebrate Black voices and experiences with music from guests like Tiffany Calver, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Mica Paris and more. She also presents Life Hacks and The Official Chart at BBC Radio 1.

Since she was scouted by MTV in Buenos Aires aged 19, Vick Hope has been a fixture on radio and the small screen. X Factor, The Voice, I’m A Celebrity, and even Crufts - her CV reads like a highlights reel of British television.

If you thought that the pandemic might have slowed the presenter down, think again. It’s been quite a year for Hope.

She starred as the female presenter on the reboot of the children’s science experiment show HOW - following in the footsteps of national treasure Carol Vorderman - which has just won a Royal Television Society Award. She’s also one of the judges for the Women’s Prize For Fiction, reading 74 books in just four months and you will even spot her as the official host of Virgin Media’s BAFTA Television Awards on June 6.

We caught up with Hope to talk life post-lockdown and the podcasting essentials.

What has 2021 looked like for you so far?

It’s felt like therapy. When you can’t go outside, you’re forced to look inwards instead, and I’ve found we’ve all been very reflective, unpacking the effects of the past year while working out the ways we can move forward with what we’ve learned about the world and about ourselves. My priorities have certainly shifted.

Amid the uncertainty I’ve revelled in life’s little wins, treating myself more kindly, finding my laughs wherever I can, accepting that it’s ok to take things a little slower, working hard but focussing on projects that bring me joy or making contributions that feel meaningful and hopefully helpful.

I released my second children’s book called Shout Out, made a podcast series - Songs To Live By - celebrating Black voices and music, continued building our BBC Radio 1 Life Hacks community supporting young people with the issues affecting them right now, read 74 books as a Women’s Prize For Fiction judge and carried on volunteering weekly for Akwaaba providing case work and support for refugees and asylum seekers in East London.

It’s been a time of light and shade, ups and downs, busyness meets boredom meets beauty and brilliance. I’m optimistic but have learned to be realistic; 2021 has been tinged with what I’m calling a kind of ‘future nostalgia’ for the things we miss but that we can look forward to enjoying again.

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What song will always put a smile on your face?

Ok this is very specific, but hear me out... You know that bit in The Streets’ Let’s Push Things Forward when Mike Skinner says ‘Let’s put on our classics and have a little dance shall we?’ - THAT has made me smile ever since discussing -nay, debating!- it with poet Benjamin Zephaniah and Rizzle Kicks’ Jordan Stephens on my Songs To Live By podcast recently. I’d always assumed that he was talking about Reebok Classics, but as we chatted about the impact that track had on Jordan growing up, and this whole new approach that Skinner brought to production and his outlook on the tired state of the music industry, Ben suggested he probably meant records: the classic tracks that The Streets were out to replace with a new sound.

Tracks or trainers? I put it to Twitter and Instagram as polls. Twitter voted trainers, Insta said tracks, the debate rages on. For the record, I reckon it’s double entendre and he means both.

What is the greatest album of all time?

Now (That’s What I Call Music) 39. Iconic and unparalleled.

What are your podcasting essentials?

You don’t need much. Equipment-wise, ideally a decent mic (I use a simple Yeti Blue), a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to ensure you don’t get feedback leaking into your recording, a computer on which you can connect with your guests either via Zoom or a clean feed site like zencastr, cleanfeed or, and a quiet, soft-furnished room. More essential, though, is a sparky, original idea that you think is going to pique your audience’s interest, or take them somewhere they’ve never been before.

And once you’ve got all that down, don’t forget a back-up audio recording... however you capture that - hell, record it on your phone- just make sure you do it (take it from someone who learned the hard way)!

How do you incorporate time for yourself into your schedule?

It sounds really clinical, but I do just that: schedule it. I work weekends, and then find that during the week you feel guilty for taking time to chill out because no-one else is doing it, especially while we’re all working from home and our boundaries between work, rest and play are so blurred. It’s less ‘working from home’, more ‘living at work’ right now and that ain’t healthy. So I stick an hour or so a day in my diary that has to be put aside for a walk, or to read without my phone or laptop nearby, or decide on a time by which to wrap and ensure that as soon as the clock strikes I properly switch off and draw a line under the day with a bath, glass of wine or some telly.

I’m also a raving to-do-lister, everything feels less insurmountable once it’s down on paper: I can categorise, compartmentalise and tick off, so I don’t waste time worrying about what I’ve not done when I could be enjoying myself. Because I mainly just want to be enjoying myself.

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How would you describe your style and what are your wardrobe staples?

Right, I’m going to describe my style as ‘all the princes’. The 90s fits, retro sportswear and bright prints of the Fresh Prince; the preppy white shirts, cutesy dungaree cuts and soft tailoring of little Prince George; and the pure flamboyance, bling and love of overstated glam of (The Artist Formerly Known As) Prince.

All this said, we’ve been in lockdown for a year and I’ve mainly been gliding around my house in a smock that no-one ever needs to see.

What is your beauty routine?

I use skincare by REN mainly. Twice a day double cleanse, serum, moisturiser, and a lovely Mimi Luzon facial oil packed with vitamins and Fenty Beauty night cream before bed. A couple of times a week I use Current Body Hyaluronic Acid on the dryer bits like my forehead and nose.

It all comes down to hydration, stress and hormones: my skin always looks best when I do a bunch of moisturising things, massage my face, drink lots of water, sleep well, exercise, am happy and crucially not on my period. I made my peace a while ago with the fact that some of those things are easier said than done and some of them I can’t control, but also with the fact that how I look is way less important than how I feel.

I guess you could say my beauty routine is to do fun stuff with great people, laugh lots, work hard and be kind: because when I’m stimulated, invigorated and exhilarated, that’s when I feel beautiful. (But yes, also hydrate).

Guilt-free lockdown purchase?

Considering the amount I’ve saved by not going out or travelling, there is no purchase at this point that could make me feel guilty! I ordered a lot of takeaways during lockdown which I absolutely do not regret, in contrast to the tonne of workout gear which I well-meaningly purchased but realistically could live just fine without, and for which I ultimately have no drawer space. Had ample space for the takeaways though didn’t I, so I think we can all agree on the clear winner here.

Also, seriously great purchase: I bought a microphone pop guard, turns out I spit my plosives out a lot.

What’s the item you couldn’t live without?

Headphones - is there any better feeling than music, al fresco, on the move?! I think not!

How do you treat yourself?

Every morning I put on a banger and I dance around my kitchen like no-one’s watching (no-one is, I live alone). And no matter what you are going through, no matter what’s stressing you out or what you have to do that day, that is three and a half minutes of pure, unadulterated joy that no-one can take from you. Works a treat.

What are you reading?

Many, many books. I’m a judge on the 2021 Women’s Prize For Fiction, alongside the incredible Bernardine Evaristo, Elizabeth Day, Sarah-Jane Mee and Nesrine Malik, and we’ve just announced this year’s spectacular shortlist, having whittled 144 submissions down to six. For the last five months I’ve spent every spare minute of every day getting lost in the myriad worlds of these novels. At a time when we couldn’t leave our own four walls, this escape couldn’t have been more welcome. Check out the longlisted books as well as the shortlist, there’s something for everyone on there; escape and enjoy!

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What’s your advice for those wanting to get into presenting?

There is no prescribed route into presenting. I was working as a print journalist before I gave broadcasting a go, and spent years behind the camera in production while building up on-screen credits, but I know so many others with totally different experiences. I am a massive advocate for building up an arsenal of production skills (scripting, editing, shooting etc), as not only will you be valuable to broadcasters in several capacities (working on the news and entertainment desk for production companies like ITN and Box, they needed us to produce and present our packages in their entirety), but you’ll also have a better understanding of what everyone’s job is on set when you’re presenting, which massively helps the process, and is just generally professional and respectful.

Above all, my advice is to work out what you believe in, what you stand for, and what makes you unique and be proud of that, work with that. I spent a long time dampening down parts of my character, education and emotions because I didn’t think it fitted the mould of a youth TV and radio presenter, when in fact harnessing my weirdness, nerdiness and sensitivity is what makes me able to bring lightness to difficult subjects, something so crucial for Life Hacks on Radio 1, the show that feels so comfortable its like I’ve found a home. So be yourself, because then when a show is right for you it will be SO right for you; you’ll absolutely smash it and have a ball while you’re at it. Life’s too short not to.

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