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Rylan Clarke-Neal: TV's busiest man primed for another year of mega shows

With Supermarket Sweep, Ready Steady Cook and now Buy It Now under his belt, Rylan Clark-Neal is expecting comparisons - but he's intent on making each show his own, he tells Gemma Dunn

Inventive TV: Rylan Clark-Neal on Buy It Now For Christmas
Inventive TV: Rylan Clark-Neal on Buy It Now For Christmas

By Gemma Dunn

It's fair to say it's been a busy year for Rylan Clark-Neal. Whether it's bagging a commentary role at this year's Eurovision Song Contest, landing his own Radio 2 show or going wild in the aisles as the host of the recharged Supermarket Sweep, his schedule has allowed little time for a breather.

And next year isn't looking promising either, with the showbiz favourite - who rose to fame on The X Factor in 2012 - set to present new fashion commission You Are What You Wear, as well as front the reboot of hit Nineties cookery show Ready Steady Cook. Phew.

Today he's en route to It Takes Two (Strictly's sister show, which he co-hosts with Zoe Ball) - yet he is prepped and ready to talk about an entirely different project, Buy It Now.

Taking over from Brian Conley, 31-year-old Clark-Neal will head up a festive edition of the Channel 4 studio entertainment show, in which sellers and inventors are given the chance to showcase their innovations to an audience of real shoppers.

And with a panel of big-name retailers waiting in the wings - plus the busiest shopping period of the year upon us - the stakes are certainly high.

So what can the Essex native tell us?

ON... LEADING BUY IT NOW FOR CHRISTMAS

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I was raring to go, actually. I did watch the original series and I really liked it. I love nothing more than always trying to get my hands on the latest products, so I can't wait to meet these fantastic inventors who have designed and developed some amazing items and see how many of our audience want to buy it now.

ON... TAKING THE REINS FROM BRIAN CONLEY

I rang Brian up and had a chat - he's so busy with 9 To 5 the musical and he was like, 'Yeah, you're going to love it', so it was a dream. Literally Buy It Now was like having two days off. I know that sounds strange, but I was looking at products, shopping and chatting to people. It was great. There was no skill or technique involved in anything.

ON... THE SELLERS' PRODUCTS

I chose not to meet anyone, so I found out what products were coming up the second that the inventors walked out of the doors - but there were a few that stuck in my mind. There was a cookery product that was basically a baking tray, but it did a lot of things. When I saw the explanation - the demo was hilarious - I found myself wanting to buy it there and then. There were a few where I was like, 'What is this?' And then (later) I was like, 'okay, I want one'. Then there were a few products that when they first came out I was like, 'This is the best thing since sliced bread' and then as it went on I was like, 'I've already got this'. There's definitely something for everyone.

ON... REVIVING READY STEADY COOK

I'm really excited; I had a good chat with Fern (Britton) and Ainsley (Harriott) and they've wished me well and told me I'm going to love it. It's Ready Steady Cook for a brand-new generation - and a brand-new generation of chefs as well, so I can't wait.

ON... THE INEVITABLE REBOOT COMPARISONS

What I've done with Supermarket Sweep will never be what Dale (Winton) did with Supermarket Sweep, but I brought as many elements of that as I could and then made it my own. I will do the same with Ready Steady Cook, I'll make it the Rylan version. I don't want to compare myself to people because in my eyes there's no comparison, but I've been handed an opportunity, so why am I going to say no to a show that, one, I want to present, two, I used to love and three, I want to still love? It's the same with all of these - I'm lucky that people trust me, and I think I do a good job.

ON... SOCIAL MEDIA REACTIONS

I do worry but I accept it. People just say, 'Why don't you just block them?' (in reference to trolls), but no, I like to live in the real world. I like to know that there's people that don't like me, I like to know there's people that think I'm s*** at my job. I don't want to live in this celebrity bubble where everyone loves me and kisses my a***. I'm real and I'm normal and I don't want to sit here and make out that everyone loves me and I'm the best thing since sliced bread, because I'm not.

ON... BEING A TV PRESENTER

One of the kids (on Children In Need) recently said to me, 'I'd love to be a TV presenter', and I said, 'So why don't you?', and the child just laughed... I was like, 'Yes you can'. I did. I wasn't born into it, it's something I wanted to do so I worked towards it and I'm doing it. You think it's never going to happen because it's a different world to the one you come from, but sometimes it just takes someone to go, 'You can'.

ON... STRICTLY COME DANCING: IT TAKES TWO

I absolutely love it. Being asked to join the biggest show on telly is not daunting, it's amazing, and I've got to say if it hadn't been for Zoe (Ball) I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much. She has welcomed me with open arms and it's so refreshing to work with someone who is so on the same level as you. It's fun and we enjoy ourselves - we're having a ball.

ON... HIS OWN DANCING PROWESS

I do get bullied (to dance) and I'm like, 'I will dance at some point!' I don't think it's fair that I take part in Strictly now, though, because having worked on the other side of it, that'd be slightly strange. It'd be like if I hosted Big Brother before I went in there. I'm being put through my paces each week on It Takes Two - but I'm sure I will do a dance at some point, just to prove my worth!

Buy It Now For Christmas starts on Channel 4 on Thursday, November 28, at 8pm

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