”He’s got to go, he’s “getting daggers” from the PR, but there’s time for one more blast of Dermot charm.
“Thanks for doing the interview this way,” he says.
And I’m lucky enough to have a couple of Scottish mates down here so I’ve been to a few Burns Nights which are brilliant.”OK, so does he know any lines of Burns he can recite at such suppers? We don’t have a huge population so our famous figures in literature are lauded. “No, I don’t.” After a bit of translation of wee (small), sleekit (smooth), cow’rin (cowering) and tim’rous (timid) beastie, O’Leary guesses at a rat. So speaking of , written by the Bard in 1785 and containing the line, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley”, has O’Leary ever had a disaster at the National Television Awards in his five years of presenting them, anything along the lines of a Judy Finnigan wardrobe malfunction?
“No, I’ve always been the person that talks to people at the bus stop.
I’m just interested in them,” says the 43-year-old.
‘We’re kind of stuck with two party politics.’ It begs the question: Who will Dermot vote for next month when Britain goes to the polls for Theresa May’s snap general election?
‘It’s hard for me to answer only because I work for the Beeb,’ says Dermot, 43, who hosts BBC Radio 2’s Saturday Breakfast With Dermot show.
That’s a terrific city you’ve got yourself there.”Has he been? I love Edinburgh, I love the architecture, I like the people, I like the food, I like the fact that you’re so close to the sea. So now he’s interviewing me about bagpipes – do pipers have to start learning young? Along with the NTAs he also fronts ITV’s annual Soccer Aid.
It’s such a skill.” O’Leary’s answers end in questions, draw out comments, elicit responses and before you know it you’re chatting. He soon returned with his sharp suits and dad dancing when Simon Cowell saw the error of his ways and wooed him back with a reported £8m, four-year deal.
This year’s National Television Awards take place on Burns Night says the PR, so would we like presenter Dermot O’Leary to do anything special for the photoshoot that goes with the interview? The TV presenter and DJ is nothing if not amenable. And I love the sense of history.”How did he get on with the pipes? And over on Radio 2 every Saturday afternoon he hosts an award-winning show that since 2002 has seen him introduce upwards of 1,000 bands into the studios, along with guests that have recently included Justin Timberlake and Meat Loaf, Jude Law and Madness.
Now this is not something that’s asked very often, or in fact ever, and in my head I’m fantasising about suggesting he don a tartan suit and See You Jimmy hat when the PR trumps me with bagpipes. A friendly everyman who shines at putting everyone at ease, from the eccentric to the nervous, and he’s more than happy to play along to publicise the awards. He’s met everyone from Oasis to David Cameron to Morrissey – although that was on honeymoon where the singer told him his marriage would never last.
It’s a physical exertion isn’t it, that’s the thing. You’ve got to pump it up with air, then you’ve got to play it. And yet, when pipers play them properly they sound so beautiful. O’Leary’s interest in connecting and skill at making it look effortless has seen him presenting , ITV’s top rated Saturday night show since 2007, with a year out in 2015 when he was replaced by Olly Murs and Caroline Flack.
There’s no laughing at them or in-jokes over their heads, something that stems with being completely at ease with himself.
Now I know him well enough to say have a drink with him, but then I didn’t, so that was a nice moment. and Billy Connolly coming on to get his award last year. But Saara Aalto connected with the public, then the Five After Midnight Boys had moments, and Honey G…” As far as O’Leary is concerned it’s the uncertainty that makes popular. You never know that someone like Honey G is going to resonate with an audience, where the great singers are going to come from. So it’s quite hard to put that stuff in a contract, it’s more about wanting that vibe back, that was the most important thing. ”OK, more Burns, and how about “Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.” (1784), which brings us to O’Leary’s charity work. “But what’s important is to try and pick seven or eight charities you really care about and reluctantly say no to a lot of other stuff otherwise your message gets diluted.”For O’Leary this is Children in Need, Soccer Aid, Unicef, breast cancer charity Coppa Feel, the Young Person’s Trust for the Environment, he’s patron of his local Irish centre and runs his own trust that gets youngsters work experience in television. When you do this gig you’ve got to be interested in people, love people.