Ex-Southampton student and Radio 1 DJ Chris Stark is quickly becoming one of the most recognisable voices at the BBC. But here at the Soton Tab fame is an irrelevance, so when given the opportunity to interview him before his Hallowe’en set at the Cube, we went full Soton Tab and sent News Editor Edmund Bannister (who didn’t know who he was), and Features Editor Connie Suggitt (who most definitely did).
Before we’d even posed a question, Chris had already admitted his guilty pleasure – reading the Soton Tab!
When bored in the studio. I’m quite sad – you’re like my MailOnline. I actually read all about that sex tour happening in Southampton.
Gratifying, Chris! You should give us a shout out more often!
Unfortunately, Ed then revealed to Chris that he only discovered his identity yesterday (met with an affronted “Oh that’s kind”), and in a furious attempt to look like a professional journalist capable of doing proper research, presented him with a pair of socks, referencing his show with Scott from the day before where they talked about their sharing. “Oh, purple? They’re a bit girly…in fact, you can keep those. Ice broken though.”
Undeterred and with Connie staring daggers at Ed, we continued, and started asking proper questions.
What’s the best bit of working at the national treasure that is the BBC?
I love it, I mean, I never feel I should be working there. That’s the beauty of it, if you enjoy it every day, it’s always going to be special. But what’s the best bit? Well, it’s certainly not the canteen, the food there is awful – you see it being this amazing place, where the food is amazing? No. The best bit is working with the best people – incredible producers, DJs, the best guests. The BBC is a big name, I’m proud to be working there – even though I really don’t understand what I’m doing there.
Would you say it was luck then?
I am very lucky, but I think you’ve also got to make your own luck. I remember my time at Surge, my involvement in student radio and you have got to be incredibly lucky if you want to pursue that as a career to get to Radio 1; but there is a case that you make your own luck, you send out your demos, you make yourself constantly available and eventually you get the job that you want.
So what do you think your big break was, was it the viral sensation that was the Mila Kunis interview?
I don’t know, I think my big break came way before that, but the Mila interview was something that shone a light on what I really did there. Suddenly it got me a show on E4, a show on Channel 4 – it was a really good moment for me, because people suddenly asked how on earth I was on Radio 1, and looked into me a bit, when before I was ticking away in the background.
What’s the best pun about your name you know, and on that note, who’s your favourite Stark? Arya, Ned…Tony?
There used to be a load of Starks in Neighbours and when I was a Fresher… I don’t want to sound old here, but Neighbours was a big deal, you know, you’d watch it twice a day. Starks were a big name on that show, but I’ve not actually watched Game of Thrones – I’ve heard it’s good though? I did recently interview Robert Downey Jr though, I did try to say that “isn’t this amazing, I’m a Stark, you’re a Stark” and actually…it just got kind of awkward.”
What’s the best interview you’ve ever done, or the best celebrity you’ve ever met?
Well the Mila Kunis was quite big, and that was fun – I look back on that and think that I didn’t really know what I was doing, I just went in and tried to be quite honest, I was nervous. On a personal level? Meeting the guy from Man vs Food! I’m very lucky with my job, I get to meet pop stars, big film stars, but my key role at Radio 1 is trying to find out what I can bring. I try to think; ‘If you were an average guy what would you say?’ That’s what I think I represent.
Any interesting incidents with crazy fans yet? After all your fame is increasing by the day.
Now that I’m on Radio 1, people have started to pay interest in me – I wouldn’t call it fame, people just end up asking “how on earth did you get here?”. I’m not famous, that’s the reality. I get to work on a station full of people who are famous, a station full of amazingly talented people and I just do the best I can to bring whatever I can to the table.
Back to Southampton now, what do you miss most about it?
I miss Glen Eyre, I really do. I miss working in the bar there, I miss the mates I made, I miss having Q burgers…Q burger used to be in Glen Eyre, he was a legend. I’ve never had a burger like it…although I’m not saying that’s a good thing! Just the legendary status this guy had. I miss a lot of the friends I made that I don’t get to see as much anymore. The social side too, the nicknames for my mates that I had at Glen Bar. There was a lad who all the girls liked, and he really played up to it. Then he got an STD. So we decided his nickname would be STD with a little u in the middle…so it read STuD. There was also DJ Fuck and MC cheats- pretty self explanatory! I really gave it all to working on Surge, probably to the detriment of my degree really. I spent all my time and energy doing pranks, I used to love working on the radio station. I miss the Cube, I miss DJ’ing there even when I’d finished my degree. I just miss being round here really – I mean I’ve made it down two hours early so I can have a drink and spend some time at my Uni. You don’t forget it, you move away but when you come back you get the same feeling as when you were there.
If your iCloud was hacked, what’s the most mortifying thing that they could release?
I don’t have that much there for people to see, I’m a very innocent, nice boy. It is a scary thought that someone could hack into my iCloud, but there isn’t much to see. I’m into taking pictures of my food, so if you’re interested in pictures of pizza, you’ll love it!
What do you think of the Southampton nightlife, and what was your favourite club?
DJ’ing here on Fridays was awesome, but I loved everything. I’ve got very fond memories of Kinky at the Cube, but I also used to DJ the student night at Oceana. I was just a big fan of getting my mates out, making sure they had a great night. Oceana was fun, but it was a pain in the arse to get to. Before Oceana there was a place called Icon – I actually got kicked out for stabbing a bloke with my pitchfork on Hallowe’en night! We also broke a world record for the amount of smurfs in the Cube, which was amazing.
So what would you say your best memory is of Southampton, or your best night here?
It’s really hard to pin down one or two good memories from University, I have so many! I’ve got loads of great memories of being in the Cube, drunk, being a student, and of course DJ’ing. I ran a night for Cancer Research, which was the first Ibiza night in the Cube. It was massively successful, we put everything into it. We ended up raising thousands for charity, I’ve never seen the Cube like it. One of my favourite moments was winning an EVA though. I dunno if you still do these, but I was so proud that the University recognised how passionate I was about the radio – I mean, I was really drunk and collecting it was awesome.There’s so many nights down at Glen Bar, those are the nights I really wish I could redo…but you can’t. God, I sound really emo now!
As it’s Hallowe’en, what’s the best costume you’ve ever worn?
Well, it’s got to be a sexy anything – sexy ghost, sexy wolf, sexy beaver…I’ve never been a sexy beaver actually. I did go out as a Chav Smurf once. There’s a picture of that on the internet somewhere – if not, I’ll e-mail it to you. It’s weird though, if you get off with someone on Hallowe’en and you wake up the next morning, and there is what looks like a dead person next to you…it’s kind of worrying. People use so much makeup too, you don’t know what they look like! Hallowe’en is a potentially dangerous holiday, a lot of UV… tonight’s a foam party, you know, you can hide in the foam!
What’s the most inappropriate thing Scott Mills has ever done in the studio?
What people get wrong with Scott, is they don’t realise how slick he is. A radio nerd can hear how good his transitions are. He’s a very professional person, and it’s amazing to see how he runs a show. Whenever he talks, he draws little squiggles on a piece of paper – if I showed you the paper afterwards, you’d see just what a mess it was. He takes his shoes off when he DJ’s as well. Inappropriate? Not a question I can really answer.
As a massive fan of Virtually Famous [Chris’ E4 Show] Are there any spare copies of the Chris Stark Starkers 2014 calendar?
Oh, the calendar! You might not know this [with a glower at Ed], but I did this show, and they mocked up this calendar with my face superimposed onto ripped naked guys. I could try and find it if you really want it, Connie? I found out recently there’s going to be another series of that, which I’m super excited for. I’m really glad you enjoyed it too, everyone at gigs only knows me for my Radio 1, not for my first panel show, which I loved.
Do you have any plans to revisit 24 Years at the Tap End?
Yeah, I think 24 Years at the Tap End is funny, because it’s just the biggest joke ever. I got approached about making it into a book, which I might do, but I don’t know how it would translate into something else. I just told stories about my time as a student, there’s no big science behind it – it’s just me, telling a national radio station stories from my life, I find it hilarious that everyone likes it.
One for the football fans here, you’re a massive Watford fan. How do you feel about the recent managerial upheaval?
Ooft, here we go. I got contacted by the club to go to an event, and I met a guy called Miles Jacobsen, who created football manager? Massive Watford fan, and we ended up just sitting down and discussing the future. It’s just a club that’s not nervous about being ambitious, even when I’m nervous – but I don’t think they are. It’s a safe, family club and I hope they maintain that Watford thing – where nobody hates us. Sometimes I get messages from Luton fans that are a bit abusive, and I just get a bit confused – I don’t hate Luton! We’ll be Premier League in 2 years!
And finally, would you rather fight a horse sized duck or a hundred duck sized horses?
I’d love to see a horse sized duck. Doesn’t sound scary at all, you see small horses everywhere, ponies etc. But the idea of a horse sized duck? For me, that would sell tickets.
You would sell tickets to this?
Of course I’d sell tickets if I was fighting a horse sized duck, I’d have it televised and everything. Even if it was to the death, I’d rather go out to a horse sized duck than a hundred duck sized horses, it’s a good way to go, a story to be told!
And there we have it. Chris Stark was an absolutely delightful fellow, self-deprecating and humble for a man of his success. Even turns out he used to live in my current house, which was damned exciting. Brookvale REPRESENT.
Connie remains disappointed that she forgot to ask for that date, but excited and full of anticipation for her Chris Stark Starkers calender… and she got a lovely selfie. Ed now knows who Chris Stark is.
This isn’t the first time we’ve interviewed Chris, check out the last one here.