Why Johnny Vaughan has remained a Capital kind of guy

PUBLISHED: 13:55 12 April 2007 | UPDATED: 14:30 07 September 2010

Getting up at 5am every morning to present Capital s breakfast show is ruining my life , Johnny Vaughan rants at Matt Eley WHEN I speak to Johnny Vaughan it seems a bit more like Johnny Yawn. It s an hour after the end of his Capital Radio breakfast

Getting up at 5am every morning to present Capital's breakfast show is ruining my life", Johnny Vaughan rants at Matt Eley

WHEN I speak to Johnny Vaughan it seems a bit more like Johnny Yawn.

It's an hour after the end of his Capital Radio breakfast show and he has just stirred himself from a power nap on a bean bag in the studio.

The image is a far cry from the glamorous adverts that signalled the changing of the guard from Chris Tarrant on the flagship show three years ago.

And according to Vaughan, who has signed a one year extension to his contract, his stint might not last for much longer.

"You get up at 5am every day so you never get to see your kids go to school, you miss out on midweek drinks and all sort of things. Basically it just ruins your life so this will be my last year," he says with exaggerated pain in his voice.

But don't be fooled by the hint of disillusionment, Vaughan, who has been a familiar face and voice since the early 1990s, has still got plenty to rant about.

In fact, just a few seconds into our conversation, the early morning tiredness is pushed to one side and he's letting rip on a range of subjects close to his heart; his beloved Chelsea FC, the problem with stalkers and two of the great loves in his life - language and London.

Born in Barnet just two weeks before England beat Germany in the World Cup Final, he grew up in north London and was educated at St Andrew's in Totteridge before moving to Uppingham public school in Rutland.

On the face of it, his story sounds like a comfortable middle-class route to fame and fortune, but things took a dramatic turn when he was just 24 and was caught trying to sell £15,000 of cocaine to undercover police.

He spent two years behind bars for the crime but his rise was remarkably rapid after release.

Thanks to a friend's dad he secured a job on local rag the Rutland Herald while on parole and enjoyed some success as a hack.

"For 14 weeks running I got the front page story every week," he says glowing with journalistic pride.

"But I realised journalism wasn't for me when a little girl died in a car accident. Somebody found out that the woman who ran her over was her aunt. They were really excited about what a great news angle it was but I couldn't think like that, to me it was just an awful family tragedy.

"I knew if I was going to stay in it I would have to do features which is the kind of thing I have ended up doing on the telly."

So he moved down to London with a script in his back pocket about two angry cops, who happened to be dwarves. Don't worry, you didn't miss what sounds like a unique televisual treat. The show was never made, but it got Vaughan's name known in certain circles and it wasn't long before he was in front of the camera hosting Moviewatch.

The Big Breakfast and huge success followed but it was while he was there that he first realised the familiarity viewers and listeners feel towards breakfast broadcasters can verge on the psychotic.

"I had an ex-army driver when I was at the Big Breakfast and round the clock security because I was getting death threats. A guy turned up with a knife because he thought I was stealing thoughts from his head.

"The good and bad with waking up people in the morning is you get such a close relationship, they really feel they know you.

"Especially if you speak out on what you think rather than sticking to a script.

"Obviously stalking is a bit too much so I tried to out mad the mad guy. He thought Zoe Ball, Chris Evans, Jamie Theakston and me were all stealing his thoughts so I told him we were and it was because Theakston was telling us to."

Vaughan survived the ordeal and was later snapped up by the BBC. He was heralded as the Corporation's great new talent but things did not go entirely to plan.

Both his chat show and sitcom 'Orrible failed to land the ratings the Beeb were after and after a few years of lay-ins he found himself setting the alarm early again.

Replacing Chris Tarrant after 17 years was no easy feat and while ratings on the breakfast show are not as high as they once were Vaughan has enjoyed his stint on the airwaves and has established his own audience.

"It's a theatre of words and a theatre of the mind. I just love hanging around with words and that's about the best description I can give for what I do. I just hang around with words and share them with the world.

"My rants are always based on something I have been thinking about."

And our conversation is peppered with a host of typical Vaughan rants.

On Chelsea: "I love the club but at the moment it does feel like you had a lovely pub and you've gone away on holiday to come back and find it's been turned into an All Bar One.

"You win games but think with the money we've spent we should be but wasn't the football better under Vialli and Gullit and Hoddle?

"But personally I have been around the country and had ups and downs in my life but whatever my changing fortunes are, I have always had Chelsea."

Although he now lives in Wandsworth, he retains an affinity for north London and an overall concern for the state of the city he broadcasts to.

"My wife is from south west London but I love north London, I really do, especially Hampstead Heath, it's great up there.

"But London has definitely got a lot more menacing. I don't know why there's this perceived greater threat now when there was when there was the IRA.

"7/7 was atrocious, a series of appalling acts but it was incredible to see people helping each other in the way that they did. Londoners have greatness in them its just waiting for an opportunity to come out."

So while his stint on the radio looks like it is coming to an end you can bet he will soon find another forum to share his rants and views on a city he loves.

Capital and the Ham&High's parent company Archant both support the charity Help a London Child. To make a donation visit www.capitalfm.com

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