From print journalism in Argentina to a mad mashup of Robot Wars and Mad Max in the South African Desert, super-babe Vick Hope is literally taking the world by storm. We sat down with her to talk road trips, future political careers, and Argentine erotic art, and to get the goss on her new co-presenters.
The Geordie babe talks us through her new show Carnage.
Your new show Carnage starts next month on Sky One, can you tell me a little bit about that?
It’s really cool, I’m really really excited about it. It’s basically like Wacky Races meets Robot Wars, meets Mad Max. It’s Robot Wars basically but with real cars with real people inside. So they weaponise their cars and they have this armoured capsule inside it and each team has a mechanic, an engineer, and a driver and they just have to destroy each other’s vehicles. There’s about 30 teams of three who’ve all flown over from the UK. We filmed it from the South African desert and it’s just insane. I have never seen crashes like it. I’ve never been involved in such a massive production. It it literally carnage, there is lots and lots of destruction which I quite morbidly really enjoyed.
I used to love Robot Wars growing up and I think as a format it’s flawless, isn’t it? It’s just people who are enthusiastic about building vehicles and getting to know what’s going on in the engines and putting all sorts of stuff on them, whether it’s flame-throwers or spikes – it’s just really fun and it’s a bit silly, but in the best possible way. I have the utmost respect for the people getting in the driver’s seats as well because they’re so brave, although they’re completely protected inside the capsule, they are still getting thrown about, and that is just crazy to think they’re in there. It’s such a spectacle to behold.
So it’s in the South African desert, what was it like to film there?
Yeah we don’t really mention that it’s South Africa on the show, it’s just the desert, but we’re in the middle of nowhere. We drove for three hours from Cape Town to get to this desert where the set was and there was just nothing for miles around. The nearest town is an hour away, our hotel was an hour away, so at the beginning and end of each day you travel an hour – they were really long days and really intense. Also, I’ve never dealt with the elements properly when I’ve been filming. I’ve filmed in very cold conditions, in rain or whatever, but this is next level battling the elements. You have these sand storms every day, and you’d see them coming from miles away, it looks like a tornado. There’s nothing you can do, nowhere you can go – we had a base with our trailers in, but where we were filming could be quite a walk from that or quite a buggy ride from that – so if you see it coming all you can do is shield your face and duck down and turn away from the direction that the tornado is coming in. It’s crazy that that’s a thing that you’d ever have to deal with on a TV shoot but it’s really exciting.
What was it like shooting with Freddie Flintoff and Lethal Bizzle?
Great. They are so funny. They’re both so so funny in their own ways. Freddie is really dry and really sarcastic, and he works out how to wind you up really quickly. Within the first few hours of meeting each other he worked out exactly how to push my buttons and it was just really good, I guess I just wasn’t expecting that kind of dynamic to happen and to happen so quickly. I found him incredibly amusing, I’d read about him in the Daily Mail about how he’s a Flat-Earther, and I was like “No, he can’t be, he can’t possibly believe that the earth is flat.” So that was one of the first things I asked him about, and whether or not he believes that, he realised it was something that wound me up so much that every car journey he would go on and on and on. He still even messages me now like “See, this is why the Earth is flat.” Once he realised that that pushed my buttons, he just went in every time. He’s funny.
Bizzle is such a character. He is a pioneer in Grime, when he let out “Pow! (Forward)” he brought together a member of all these different crews, I didn’t know this. He had so many stories about the beginning of Grime. Looking at the way that it’s progressed is something that I’m really interested in so it was great to just talk to him and find out about it.
I’m so used to working with my peers, other presenters that have worked their way up the industry. For them, what they love is cricket and music respectively, it’s very refreshing to work with people who have all these stories to tell. There’s something really refreshing about the attitude they took to presenting, like not thinking that they have to do it right or correctly, they don’t have that pressure in the same way that I do or my peers do and that was refreshing. But also just being able to talk about all this stuff and listen to their stories was really fun, really stimulating.
What has it been like working on The Voice UK and The Voice Kids?
It was so good. I think as far as a talent show goes, they’re all entertaining but there’s something about the format that it has and way that they treat the contestants, just makes for a really nice atmosphere. I have so much respect for every person that I worked with, everyone’s just so talented, they’re so great at their job and when you’re doing digital or backstage, often you’ll come on a set and you realise that the main thing is that they have to get the main show done, but on The Voice they were really welcoming. Emma Willis would be waving me over to do a little bit with her, or the producers would be getting me to do bits with Olly Murs or Will.I.Am or Tom Jones, and all of them are just so happy to chat whenever. I didn’t feel like I was getting on their nerves or getting in the way, because there was a really great atmosphere around it. For me, it was really exciting to be on just a big shiny tall set, I’d never really done that before. I was in my element, running around like a child in a sweet shop, because you’ve seen it on the TV, you’ve seen the big microphone, you’ve seen the big red chairs, and it’s amazing because it looks exactly like you would imagine from the TV show. I had such a good time, I was so sad when it was over.
The Voice Kids, which will come out in July, I’ve seen the ones that are going through to the semi-finals, because we’ve recorded all of that and the final will be live. The level of talent on that is even more mind-blowing because – obviously the adults are incredible – the kids are incredible and they’re also these mini-superheroes. It’s unbelievable the voices that come out of them. Also because they’re kids and their voices haven’t all got to the stages of development, you never really know what to expect – whether it’s a boy or a girl, whether they’re going to sound their age or not, the voices are more varied and that’s really cool to behold.
You’ve worked for a lot of different broadcasters in your career, doing some really exciting stuff, I read about you living for a year in Argentina?
Yeah, I was doing work as a print journalist. I took a year out of my degree, because I was studying French, Spanish and Portuguese, so I wanted to go and get my Spanish fluent. We were allowed to go anywhere we wanted. A lot of my friends were going to France or Spain and doing teaching, or going to Erasmus courses and studying, but I just thought nobody is going to give me a year in my life again to just go do what I want. I just decided to go to Argentina, I’ve always wanted to go there. I’d read a lot of literature, I was really interested in their dictatorships and the fact that democracy is so young there, and also the fact that the young people there are so woke, they’re very politically connected and they want to talk about stuff that I want to talk about. I also find their erotic art amazing. So I knew that I wanted to go and my first article for this newspaper that I managed to get an internship at was about erotic art. My mum was like “What are you doing, you’ve just arrived in this country on your own and you’re going to sex shows?” I went to weird erotic art galleries, I talked to this guy called Federico Andahazi, the author of a book about the birth of sexuality in Argentina. It was one of those places where I could write about all this stuff that I hadn’t been exposed to in the UK or in Newcastle, and I went to uni in Cambridge so it had all been a bit sheltered. It was just the coolest country.
I did other jobs while I was there as well, I worked in a virtual dating system – getting people dates from online dating sites, clients in San Francisco and LA, writing their profiles and getting them dates; I worked in a cocktail bar, I worked as a dancer in a club for a bit (don’t tell my mum), I worked in a cafe where I had to walk around all day with a Mariachi band giving out nachos, and then I ended up being a presenter on MTV. They needed a presenter who spoke English, and obviously I speak excellent English, and it led to my first pilot. Although the show never got made, it was my first taste of it and got me in touch with MTV in the UK. So as soon as I came back I had to finish my degree, but while I was doing my final year I was going down to London and helping out at MTV, doing bits around the office, doing interviews, working at ITN and as soon as I graduated I went straight there, starting a job as a runner and I just worked my way up from an intern to a researcher, did some other researching jobs at a bunch of other companies, but was always doing my own thing, making documentaries, just my own little ones on the street and making showreels out of bits of digital, online shows, and just constantly cutting it together and bothering broadcasters. I got my first presenter gig which was at midnight to 8am in the belly of ITN doing 4Music’s breakfast news and it all went from there. It’s just been one job after another, but always producing as well as presenting which is what I thought was key, to be able to be on both sides of the camera.
What’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever got to do through your career?
I would say one of the most amazing gigs that I’ve got to do is, that was a really special time was when I did a thing for Red Bull called Flugtag, when competitors have to build crafts that they have to get to try and fly as far as possible with no actual mechanic engines or motors involved. So we followed that around the world, we did it in loads of countries, and we got to go all over the place. The most incredible part was when we touched down and did a Flugtag in Boston because the next one was in Louisville, Kentucky so we basically road tripped which was just amazing. I had such an amazing experience and it’s something that I really wouldn’t have done otherwise. I wouldn’t have gone to Louisville, Kentucky but it was a real eye-opener of a destination because I saw the States in a way that I never had before. Louisville, Kentucky is incredibly divided – it was incredibly segregated and I think I had never realised that what I’d perceived of the western world is that it wouldn’t still be like that. It was incredibly dangerous, there were murders every day that we were there. It was great experience in my career, I think going somewhere where stuff like that happens and you see a side to the States that they don’t really report to us is incredibly valuable to know about because it gives you some perspective. I found it really enlightening and really illuminating and it was a really interesting trip. Also because we were road tripping it, we went to New York for a bit, it was cool, really really cool.
Equally I would say, after I joined Capital FM we had our first Summertime Ball, which Roman Kemp and I hosted, and being on that thing that you stand on and it raises you out of the stage, and rising out of the stage and shouting “Hello Wembley,” in front of 80,000 people – for someone with no discernible musical talent that was pretty special.
You’re an avid documentarist, what sort of things have you delved into?
I was really taken by reading Kate Adie’s autobiography and I imagined I was going to be this bullet-proof vest, hard-hat wearing, hard-hitting foreign correspondent and I basically wanted to write and make docs about the parts of the world that interested me the most, which is Latin America and Africa (because I’m from Nigeria). So when I first started making little bits on my own, it was just little documentaries about Brazilian culture in the UK, or Latin American culture in London. Or I’d do stuff about my own heritage, about being mixed race, or about the different things that I knew people were doing themselves, so a lot of Nigerian women that I know were bleaching their skin and I would discuss that, versus so many of my friends who tan and whether they’re comparable or not. I did a piece on institutionalised racism in fashion, because I was doing a lot of photoshoots at the time so I was talking to designers and photographers and people I was working with. I just sat down with anyone who would talk to me for free and would interview them. They weren’t docs for TV, they were just for me they were just for exploring subjects that I was interested in.
Since then I’ve done a couple of bits – I did a documentary on retouching in fashion that won a BBC Factual Entertainment Award. That was cool. I did a doc for Channel 5 called Slenderman Killings, which was about the Slenderman and about how digital and online horror, although not real, can provoke very real things. I’ve done a few with various different channels and production companies and a lot of them are about my heritage, about Nigeria, which is a crazy country which is so interesting with such a rich culture but it’s also a very dangerous country where there’s a lot of crime, kidnappings. I’ve done a lot of documentaries about immigrants, refugees – because my mum was a refugee and it’s something that I feel very strongly about, I work with refugees and have done for the last two years at a project in Hackney. So yeah, basically subjects that I really care about.
Are there any other areas that you’d like to try out in your career, maybe not presenting or reporting?
Well I really want to do as many things as possible. I think doing more factual content would be the dream. I want to make more documentaries, I would even like to do more current affairs programming. For me, I would love to end up hosting Woman’s Hour or the Today Program, or something that is more topical. The One Show is pretty great, also because you get so much content every day that is so diverse, you’re constantly learning new stuff, meeting new people, because that’s what I’ve always been interested in. I love entertainment, I love talking to pop stars and actors, it’s interesting, it’s fun and I’m so lucky that I get to do that.
Like I said I work for this project called Akwaaba in Hackney, it’s been there for a while and we’ve been growing it, so being able to concentrate on that and working with more refugees. Doing that charity work is what I care about the most, it’s something that I’ve grown up with being very aware about the plight of because my mum will tell me stories about how she came to this country from Nigeria. Doing more, helping more, becoming a little bit more aware on an academic level of where these problems begin and how we can solve them is important to me. A lot of my friends went on to do international relations, and you can’t really tackle these problems unless you tackle them properly.
When I first started at uni, I assumed that this might be a route into politics at some point and although I sort of forgot about that when I started working at MTV because that wasn’t really the trajectory, I wouldn’t discount it as something that I could do. I don’t know how possible it would be and I don’t know how much I’m going down the wrong route but I think I’m fairly politically engaged, I care a lot about the way that people are treated in this country and if I could affect a change then I would like to in time. I think if this is a route into politics further down the line, it’s one that I’d really like to pursue.
What do you have coming up for this year?
I’m currently on Capital Breakfast every morning, 6am-10am, which takes it out of you a lot, it’s intense. Even if you try and get enough sleep, which you don’t because you get FOMO so you have to go out, your sleep is just a different quality. Also I’m doing this live show two days a week in the afternoon. Plus I’m doing a really cool campaign at the moment called Fresh Forward and Fresh Focus, it’s a Box Fresh campaign, every month we select a new artist that we think are going to be massive. It’s just my show so it’s really nice to have something of my own, I spend the whole day with them and they pick a location and they do three live performances and I do an interview, I just absolutely love it. Our next Box Fresh artist is Jorja Smith, who is having the most insane year, I think she’s fantastic. Also as a part of that we’re hosting a stage at the Great Escape festival which I’ll be hosting on the Saturday night, and we’ve got Tom Grennan headlining, who I’m a huge fan of. Carnage is starting, The Voice Kids is carrying on and I’ve got a couple of things I’m developing at the moment with the BBC and BBC3.