Belfast Telegraph

Stephen Clements: 'Success was to have made someone laugh at a time when nothing was funny for them'

In his own words... what the acclaimed presenter said over the years about his career, his family and his dreams

Stephen on a his first foreign holiday with friend Lawrence
Stephen on a his first foreign holiday with friend Lawrence

On his childhood dreams to be a radio star:

"I always had a wee bit of a notion about doing radio when I was young but I had no idea how to get in the door. Growing up in a housing estate in Carrickfergus it seemed like a million miles away."

On writing his successful book Back In Our Day about his childhood:

"Before the book, my childhood was blurry. Writing it, I realised I was happy, especially when I saw the pictures and remembered the laughs. I wouldn't change anything. Some terrible things happened my family but if things didn't happen the way they did, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you now."

On his Dad Roy, who suffered a heart attack in 2014, which left him in a care home:

"Dad can't speak very well but we can understand him. The brain damage affected his personality, too, and his short-term memory is awful. But he's still Dad. My brother and I give him terrible abuse and there'll be tears of laughter falling down his face. He always had a good, dark sense of humour."

On his children Robbie and Poppy:

"I try to give them a sense of worth, rather than over-praising, and encourage them to be all-round well-educated individuals who can make their own life choices, who don't feel like the world owes them a living."

On his wife Natasha:

"Natasha and I met when we worked in Wetherspoons together - I finally wore her down and she gave up and went out with me. We have been together ever since."

On his brother Gavin:

"Gavin is the most positive person I know. He never lets anything get him down and he finds the good in every situation. No matter what the problem is, I would take it to him, he would just find a way of dealing with it. He has been a tremendous support to me over recent years. He is a really good guy and a true friend to me."

On leaving his beer salesman job to become a radio DJ:

"Natasha said: 'I'd rather you went and did a job you loved than coming home from work with the face tripping you'. It was a bit of a gamble but nobody on the radio in Northern Ireland at the time sounded like me and my friends. The first year was a bit of a blur. The great thing was, and is, having the time to spend with my kids. I'm far more involved with their lives than most working men my age."

On the Northern Ireland sense of humour that made him a household favourite

"It's a reflection of the Northern Irish outlook on life; we don't take ourselves too seriously, don't take life too seriously. People of my generation who grew up during the worst of times have probably the darkest sense of humour because it was the only way of dealing with the stuff that went on back then.

On Arlene Foster being one of his biggest fans:

"I picked up the phone on air and said hello and this lady came on and introduced herself as Arlene from Fermanagh. I asked what her surname was and she said Foster and then I asked what she worked at and she said she was a politician.

She had just been appointed First Minister and you could have knocked me over with a feather. She was brilliant and I have met her since and she said she loves the show and that it gives her a great laugh."

On admiring his BBC colleague Stephen Nolan:

"One of the reasons I looked up to Stephen was that I found him to be one of the very few on radio locally who talked the way I talked, and spoke about the things my friends and I talked about. He relates to people because he's the same as us. He talked like us. He didn't talk about going to the opening of restaurants... in a way, he was almost thumbing his nose at the Establishment."

On leaving Q Radio after seven years at the mic:

"The owner was almost like a father to me. I'd told him previously that the only way I was leaving was if the BBC came for me - or if he sacked me. Luckily, it was the former."

On getting his 'dream job' at the BBC:

"I'm absolutely thrilled and excited to be given this opportunity with the BBC. It has always been my dream to broadcast on the most respected, most creative media platform on the planet. I am looking forward to sharing some fun and lots of laughs with the amazing people of Northern Ireland."

On his colleague Sean Coyle, whose morning show he replaced

"Sean's a legend. His style was just so easy to listen to, so affable and amiable and friendly. He had a huge audience, and I can see why a lot of people love him."

On his pride over his job:

"I'm so privileged and proud that I'm working for the BBC and I hope that I do the BBC proud, I hope that I do the legends that have been in this show before me proud, and most of all I hope that I do myself proud."

On the secret to his radio success:

"The kind of stuff I do is basically relaying life stories and observations and getting people on to let me know what their version of that is. I've always essentially been the same person with the same type of show and I've done weekend mornings and night times and afternoons and breakfasts and now I'm doing mid-mornings but I don't think the time of day really matters."

On making a difference to people's lives:

"People have told me I was the only thing that made them laugh when they were going through chemotherapy or a death in the family. For me, to have done that, that's what really matters most. Success is to have made someone laugh at a time when nothing was funny."

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, contact the Samaritans on 084 5790 9090, or Lifeline 080 8808 800

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