Breaking into the fierce world of journalism is a struggle we at List for Life know all too well. We’ve all worked hard to get our jobs and it’s not an easy industry to break into. We wanted to find out how someone at the top of the industry did it. You’ll be just as inspired as us after reading this chat we had with Richard Arnold, who you’ll recognise from Good Morning Britain.
We discussed all things unpaid work experience and working with Piers Morgan. And you’ll never guess what Barbara Streisand did to Richard Arnold during an interview… Richard Arnold
1. You studied journalism at City University – Would you recommend that people reading this and wanting your job should do a journalism course?
Absolutely! I started off doing Law and Business at Edinburgh and soon swapped to English Language and Literature, much more my style! I stayed in Edinburgh an extra year after my getting MA as I always lingered in the summers to work the Fringe Festival in various guises – leafleting, compeering, running a comedy venue and managing box offices…Edinburgh
was very much more than just my student home but a after five years, the City course gave me the perfect passport to head to London where I met many of the friends and colleagues I still have today in the industry. The course is incredibly well respected. I’m surprised I made the cut!
2. Did you ever do unpaid work experience and what is your advice for people thinking of doing this? Can young people get exploited or is all experience good experience?
The climate was very different then. Most of my peers were driven academically rather than vocationally but work experience was always encouraged. I did side jobs – like stacking shelves, labouring for the local council and working in the menswear of department of a well known store in London – to pay my way through work placements. The only way to avoid working for nothing is to make yourself invaluable. Any experience is worth it, if only to help you realise what it is you don’t want to do. I’m surrounded by many young and talented researchers and producers at ITV on Good Morning Britain, many of whom have floated to the top by paddling for free at the beginning. I do realise how tough it is, though.
Image credit: RexFeatures
3. How did you land for first TV presenting job at the BBC?
I was working on a TV listings magazine that at the time had only just launched – Inside Soap magazine, which, at the time was the only one of its kind and came out monthly. I seem to remember writing almost the entire issue one month! A phone call came from The Sunday Show on BBC2, a new youth programme looking for a gob on a stick who could spin an entertaining strand on the soaps. I went up to Manchester to do the pilot and got the gig. David Walliams also auditioned for a segment on the show. I was in great company. Whatever happened to him?
4. What has been the biggest ‘pinch me’ moment of your career so far?
So many! Interviewing Tony Bennett in his New York apartment with his dog Happy. Vanessa Redgrave doing my make-up in Cannes, Barbara Streisand mopping my top lip during an interview in a sweltering hotel room…And the moment Mariah Carey insisted I stand for our sit down interview. To be fair, she was standing in a heavily corseted frock. And there’s always the time forgot my foxtrot to Shirley Bassey’s Big Spender in Studio One of the BBC during Strictly Come Dancing in front of 12 million people. I got it right on the results show and received a standing ovation. Infinitely preferable to the slow clap I get from the GMB crew every morning!
Image credit: RexFeatures
5. What are your tips for getting your foot in the door of the seemingly impenetrable showbiz world?
Good grace, hard graft and manners get you everywhere. That, and be prepared – oh and capable. Preparation is the key. Know your stuff. Specialising helped me get a spot on the sofa. That was in January 1997 so my 20 year anniversary is looming. I’ve insisted they devote an entire edition of Good Morning Britain to it, of course. If Piers Morgan will let me get a word in…