Belfast Telegraph

Stephen Nolan's real, he's just like one of us and that's why we connect with him

By Mairia Cahill

The sight of Stephen Nolan broadcasting in a real-time walk round the supermarket following 'Big Audrey' and her friend 'Wee Betty' yesterday brightened up my Sunday.

I watched the video in hoots of laughter as he sent up his recently ill mother for wearing a dressing gown outside, and told his followers, "You'll probably hear her before you see her".

What's brilliant about it is it's like following any mother of a certain age around.

From shouts of "where's the sweet stuff 'til we get a cup of tea", to "come on, I've got Jaffa Cakes will do us", it reminded me of my granny and how she interacts when we are driving her up the wall.

That's Nolan's strength, and possibly why he both endears the public and drives them bonkers.

He's one of us, and he connects in a way which is rare in broadcasting these days.

He knows how to push her; but not too much as he films, and, as a bemused Betty looks on, repeatedly tries to kiss his cross mother in between winding her up.

There is no love lost as he asks her to buy him a chocolate bar and she sarcastically gives him a dressing down in her dressing gown, shouting: "Aye you need a big bar, don't you!"

Mothers do not like to be distracted while doing their shopping, and I wanted to take Stephen and shake him for her.

His own admission, while laughing, that he "just tortures her non-stop" drew a smile.

She was clearly frustrated with him, telling him to "p*** off", and she gives as good as she gets but in a roll-of-the-eyes-kind-of-way, with a look that says "this is my son and I love him, but he does my head in".

It's lovely to think that one of the hardest working broadcasters in Northern Ireland - a man who could be living the high life on his downtime - prefers to spend time with his family instead.

Nolan got two hours of sleep yesterday in between broadcasting BBC 5 Live shows, flew from Belfast to England to Nice and back over the weekend, and decided to simply get his mum out of the house for a while "to cheer her up".

They clearly have a close relationship and, more importantly, what leaps out at the viewer is that Stephen is just as proud of his mum as she is of him.

And that's also why he is such a successful broadcaster.

He's real, he doesn't do airs or graces, and he's clearly grounded.

Don't "p*** off" anytime soon Stephen, you're a national treasure.

And so is your long suffering mother.

Belfast Telegraph

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