Belfast Telegraph

Rylan Clark-Neal: 'I prefer live TV, if I muck it up, well that's just me'

His career might be going from strength to strength, but TV favourite Rylan Clark-Neal admits he struggles with work-life balance. He tells Gemma Dunn why showbiz is a 24-hour job.

If there's one person in showbiz who should have their own stage, it's Rylan Clark-Neal. With his perfectly coiffed quiff and Hollywood-white smile, the reality TV star-turned-prime-time-presenter certainly ticks the boxes when it comes to showbiz; but it's the 27-year-old's infectious charisma that has seen his star rise to new heights.

His latest gig, a brand new Channel 5 show called Up Late With Rylan, is a turning point for the Essex-born personality - and it's fair to say he's happy about it.

"I can't wait to get started and show you how much fun we're all going to have together," he says frantically.

And while Up Late With Rylan is being dubbed the UK's answer to America's The Late Late Show ("I'm very flattered; I just wish we had their budget"), the irreverent host won't be troubling James Corden for tips any time soon.

"He's a bit busy, isn't he? I'll do my thing," he says.

Though the new series will possess all the glitz and glamour usually associated with the chat show genre, Clark-Neal is confident there will be no comparisons. "It's not just a chat show and it's not just a music show," he reasons.

"We've got celebrity guests, fun and games and live music performances. It's going to be the new place to go late at night."

Airing throughout May, with four shows Monday to Thursday and a best-bits round-up each Friday, it's a fun stint. "Come on, I'm the ultimate love bird. We've got our own dating game that we're calling Bank or Bin; it's sort of like a real-life Tinder," he reveals. "I'm dreading it."

Now a seasoned presenter with regular high-profile gigs on This Morning and Big Brother, Clark-Neal is accustomed to the pressure of live TV - in fact, he prefers it.

"With live, if I muck anything up, I like it, because I'm normal. I'm not one of these, 'Oh I'm a presenter and I'm really professional'. I'm lucky to be doing it."

Clark-Neal has come a long way since his 2012 X Factor days (he was a contestant and finished fifth).

"If you look at it on paper, I'm an X Factor reject. I should have been over and done with years ago," he reflects.

"It's more what you say no to than what you say yes to. I could break both my legs tomorrow and not be able to work again, so I'll do it now while I can."

And it doesn't look like there'll be much time for respite in 2016, with lots of top secret changes surrounding Big Brother in the pipeline (though he did let slip "It's a brand new job this year for me") and a cameo in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.

With such a busy schedule, the performer confesses to struggling with the life-work balance, but he divulges the one rule he always sticks to.

"I do like my private life - I like shutting off," admits the host, who last November married former Big Brother star Dan Neal.

"I go home to Essex every single night. I lived in hotels for two years when I left X Factor. I was in a different city every day.

"I always go home every night, even if it means I have to get up really early, drive to Manchester and do a job for five minutes, and drive back and get home at midnight." But his non-stop lifestyle comes at a cost, with Clark-Neal recently opening up about his own struggles during a This Morning interview with Coronation Street's Beverley Callard, discussing her battle with depression.

"I think everyone, in their life, has known someone or gone through a time themselves where they've not felt right, and I couldn't help but say to Beverley, 'I totally understand'.

"I wasn't saying 'I'm depressed'. What I'm saying is, 'I totally get that', and I respected her for saying it," he adds.

"But this job is hard," he affirms. "I never understood why, growing up, these Hollywood stars would take drugs and kill themselves.

"You look at life differently. You've always got to pay a price, and I learnt that quick."

Up Late With Rylan continues tonight and tomorrow, 11pm, Channel 5

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