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TV Interview

Georgie Okell, Matt Edmondson talk T4, 'X Factor', June Sarpong, more

By
Matt Edmondson
Following in the footsteps of such teen TV greats as Dermot O'Leary, Steve Jones, Vernon Kay and... Margherita Taylor (okay, you can probably scrap the last one), Georgie Okell and Matt Edmondson are the new King & Queen of T4. Digital Spy caught up with the duo to get the lowdown on everything from Matt's sexual chemistry with Louis Walsh and the whereabouts of June Sarpong.

How does it feel to be part of the family of T4?
Georgie: "Bizarrely, I just realised the other day that I've been there for a year this week, which has gone quickly. It's a horrible cliché, but it's like a real family thing there, you know."

Matt: "It's brilliant. I love T4 and was something of a T4 geek when I was younger. I remember many a holiday spent waiting to get up waiting to watch T4. So actually getting to do it is brilliant. I've flirted with the T4 family in the past with Pocket TV, V Festival, but to be embraced into the bosom of T4 is a real treat.

"I love the use of the world 'family'. I'm not sure where I fit into that. I'm maybe the annoying younger brother. Grimmy is probably dad, Georgie is the cool one and I'm the annoying younger brother."

Am I right in thinking you're a bit of a kids TV nerd, Matt?
Matt: "I'm generally a TV nerd. I'm a nerd for stuff with presenters. I just like watching people present things. Whether they are good at it or bad at it. Kids TV I was into when I was a kid, mainly because I am the perfect match for the genre, but I do have a slightly geeky knowledge for it.

"I did use to do kids TV, but I was absolutely awful at it. That's why I don't do it any more. I'm hated by kids everywhere. But yes, you know me very well, I do have a geeky knowledge of the broom cupboard and obscure TV presenters that not many people have heard of."

There's a lot of them lingering around without much work these days...
Matt: "Oh God, yeah. The Anji Krefts of this world!"

What do you reckon Anji's up to? Panto?
Matt: "Oh, who knows? I'd love to know what she's up to. I really would. I made a cake for my friend Jamie with Anji Kreft on it. It's always our ambition to show her a photograph of that cake. If you can track her down through the power of Digital Spy, that would be amazing."

What is your working week like on T4?
Georgie: "This morning, I went and did a junket. I went and shot Anne Hathaway this morning for One Day. So we go and do those most weeks, and then when we're filming, we're kind of in the studio most of the day or around location.

"We were at V Festival at the weekend, so that was quite a big day - up at 5am for make up. And then we go through the script, change anything that we feel like we want to do differently."

What was Anne like? Was she nice?
Georgie: "She's definitely in my top three of people that I've interviewed. It's the second time that I've interviewed her. She might even be my number one.

"She was genuinely very nice and very funny and you know sometimes people are putting it on because they're so professional, but she seems like a very genuinely funny person. And I like her because she laughs when I make jokes, which is always nice in the morning!"

What's Matt like on set? Is he a bit of a diva in the morning? Is he the first person in the makeup room? Does he take hours to get ready?
Georgie: "Yeah, he takes forever. We all get 45 minutes for makeup, and Matt goes for two and a half hours. Absolute nightmare to work with! No, he's great.

"Matt is one of those anomalies, I guess, in the world of TV. He works very hard, he doesn't drink and he looks after everybody. He's just a real sweetheart as long as you don't steal his chocolate. If you steal Matt's chocolate from the stage or from where it is, then you can have a hard day. But if that doesn't happen then he's the nicest person to work with. Mess with his chocolate and it's a real issue!"

Do you always feel in the shadow of June Sarpong on T4?
Matt: "Always. It's hard to escape the shadow of Sarpong. I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but I think I speak on behalf of all the current T4 presenters when I say, when the next pop culture figure dies, we would like to be the person presenting their live séance. I'm putting that out there.

"I've never met June Sarpong, but I find her a strangely fascinating character. She's got a show in America, where she's like Donal MacIntyre with a team doing hard-hitting journalism."

That's got to be b*llocks?
Matt: "Honestly this is true. I can't remember what is is exactly, but she works with a team of investigators doing hard-hitting stuff. Look into it. But yes, we're all in the shadow of June and in the shadow of Anthony Crank. Those are big shoes to fill."

Did you have anyone that you particularly admired or took inspiration in terms of presenting? Do you look up to anyone?
Georgie: "It's been great following on from Miquita [Oliver] and Alexa [Chung] on T4. Sara Cox - I used to and still love her on the radio. Brilliant northern self-achiever that when I listen to her on the radio or watch her on TV, I feel an affinity to. But yeah, Miquita and Alexa, who've really made that brand and presenting their own. It's easy for us now to follow in their footsteps.

"Miquita was great. She was 15 and started a whole new way of interviewing people on a brand of music/teenagers TV. But yeah, I've always loved the northern guys."

Do you both see yourselves following Dermot, Vernon and Steve Jones's lead into mainstream TV presenting?
Georgie:"I literally have no idea what's going to happen.I'm horribly addicted to reality TV. Made in Chelsea or X Factor or whatever it is. Big Brother... I loved Davina [McCall]. She's another personality who is so great on TV.

"To do one of those shows and make it your own would be absolutely amazing - terrifying but brilliant. In ten years' time, it would be great to be hosting a show that was mine, especially if it was a big reality show. So we'll just see. I like my music and my radio - I'm going to see where things go with that."

Matt: "It is a weird one. Growing up, Dermot [O'Leary] was one of my absolute favourite presenters to watch. He built his own persona up off the back of T4 and Little Brother. The freedom he had on that show was amazing.

"When I first met him, I asked him about the trade-off he had from that freedom and then moving to the X Factor. He seemed to understand that was a natural progression for a TV presenter. You work hard building your profile so you can then go do something like The X Factor. I think even on X Factor, Dermot gives some humanity and personality to what is a straight forward navigational role on that show.

"I'm not very good at looking at into the future though. We're all quite young at T4, so I don't think we'll be doing anything serious too soon."

Matt, what happened to you hosting the Xtra Factor? Too much sexual tension with Louis?
Matt: "It was entirely Walsh. It was my relationship with Walsh. The sexual chemistry between us was too intense, so they had to pull the plug at the last minute. They had to go for someone understandably less attractive. I'm annoyed that's been leaked and you have got hold of that information."

Will the F Factor ever comeback?
Matt: "The honest answer is, I don't know. The way - and I know only too well - that Syco and Talkback Thames operate, is quite last minute. Last year, the show didn't get commissioned until about two days before we made it. And that was before the live shows, which aren't happening this time until October.

"Last time it was an intense autonomous project, so in terms of time and things, we'd have to wait and see on that one. We've had tentative discussions, but I don't want it to be a case of me not doing it as well as I did last year."

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