It’s been a big year for Rylan Clark-Neal and the 6ft 4 presenter is about to reach even greater heights in 2019. He may have started out as the joke act on X Factor but the man who famously sobbed all over Nicole Scherzinger is having the last laugh.
His warm and witty personality saw him romp home as the winner of Celebrity Big Brother 2013, and he’s become one of the biggest names in British telly, scoring presenting gigs on shows like Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, This Morning and The Xtra Factor. He’s even in danger of entering national treasure territory with news that he’s taking over Zoe Ball’s Saturday afternoon slot on Radio 2 in January.
In the meantime he’s focusing on another side to his talents – interior design. He and his husband Dan are moving into their dream marital pad in time for Christmas, and Rylan’s been busy putting his signature touches to the place. ‘The house is unbelievable,’ he says, proudly. ‘I’ve put in a Big Brother diary room, next to the downstairs loo. You just press the Big Brother Eye button and the door opens. I’m just going to sit in there and talk to myself.’
One thing’s for certain, his new house is going to be a fragrant place. Rylan is about to launch his own home fragrance line with QVC UK , and is clearly a very personal passion – he’s even sprayed himself liberally with his room spray ahead of his interview.
‘I’ve always been mad about fragrance, people always say you can smell me before you can see me,’ he laughs. ‘I don’t even want to say what I spend a year on candles. Elton John would be shocked!
‘For the past four years I’ve been working on my own Luxenoa range, it’s really affordable and it’s fixed all the things that normally p*** me off with candles. Mine all have black wax, so they don’t look dirty after the first time you’ve lit them. They’ve got 10% fragrance too, so they don’t just smell nice in the jar, they really fill the room. I want to smell the money I’ve spent, I don’t just want to burn it on nothing.’
Can’t get enough of Rylan? Here are few other things we learned about him…
When he was a kid, some of his family members nicknamed him Damien.
‘I was the evil little ginger kid. My earliest memory is when I was about four. Everyone used to come to our house on Boxing Day. All my mum’s family had gone to the pub for an hour, but me and Mum had stayed home. She went to the toilet and I just set fire to a lampshade using a lighter. I don’t know why. She really b****ed me for it. I think it was an early indication of my good taste in interior design, as it was quite a horrible chintzy lampshade.’
Rylan and mother Linda Clark
(Image: Sunday Mirror)
He was a naughty streak at school
‘I was never one to follow the rules at school. I was suspended every other week. My mum used to get wound up, but I think she was on my side. Once she picked me up after a boy had said something to me and we got in a fight. She took me to McDonald’s and said, "Well done for hitting back". I had a lovely three days off. Happy Meals all round!’
He nearly didn’t turn up to his X Factor audition
‘It was that Sliding Doors moment. I really wasn’t going to go. But I ended up washing my hair and thought, ‘B*****s, I’ve blow-dried it now, let’s go.’ I was so close to not getting in my car. What would I be doing now if I hadn’t gone? Time, probably!’
He hasn’t ruled out singing in the future…
‘On X Factor I knew my role was to be on the front page of the paper every day, not to sing. But it gave my personality a chance to shine, and then I went straight into Celebrity Big Brother and won it. So I was lucky. Was the criticism of my voice fair? Nobody will ever know if I can sing or not. Or at least not for a while. Maybe I’ll give it another go one day…’
Rylan on 2012 The X Factor Series
His famous breakdown keeps him grounded
‘I love my job, but there are some days when my manager says, ‘The call time tomorrow is 6.45am.’ I’ll have a moan and be like, ‘This is b*****s!’ So once a year I’ll watch that moment when I broke down at Judges’ Houses on X Factor to remind myself how much all this means to me.’
The best advice he’s ever been given came from Barbara Windsor.
‘I was in Selfridges buying underwear, and I felt a tap on my leg. I looked round, thong in hand, and it’s Barbara and her husband Scott. I said, ‘Nice to meet you, Scott,’ and Barbara said, ‘Oh no, darling, you met him a couple of months ago. Let that be a lesson to you. It’s never, “Nice to meet you”, it’s always, “Lovely to see you”.’ I swear to God that’s got me out of so many holes.’
Geri Halliwell made his fantasies come true
‘My pinch-myself moment was doing This Morning with Geri. At school I used to make tickets in Business Studies for fantasy projects like ‘Rylan And Geri Live’. Then suddenly Geri’s ringing me up to talk about us being on TV together. I was secretly like ‘Well done, Rylan.’ She did not disappoint in the slightest. She’s Ginger Spice! What would you not love about her?’
(Image: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)
He can be a bit socially awkward
‘I’m confident when it comes to my job but in real life I can be a bit shy. If I’m meeting somebody for the first time I can feel a bit nervous. I feel at a disadvantage because people know stuff about me but I don’t anything about them.’
People have a lot of preconceptions about him
‘They’ll often say ‘You’re actually quite normal aren’t you?’ or ‘You’re better looking in real life’ which I’ll take as a compliment but obviously it means I look like a dog on the telly. Another thing they say is ‘Your teeth are actually really nice in real life.’
He avoids the showbiz life
‘I don’t go out. I’m a bore. I hate all those showbiz parties. No one knows anyone, and they’re only there for a goody bag. I’d rather stay in, put on my dressing gown and watch Birds Of A Feather.’
His motto for life is ‘be who you want to be’
‘If you’re not that person now and you want to be that person, become that person. Fake it until you make it. I did. I’m actually straight and a plumber from Devon!’
His husband makes him keep it real
‘Dan ensures I’m the real me, not the work me. The second I get home nobody would have any idea of the job I do. I’m in my tracksuit on the sofa, hand down my trousers.’
He’s a brilliant step-dad to Dan’s son Cameron, 19
‘I’m the best! I bought him a car, so there you go! Who pays the insurance? Who do you think? There’s only 10 years between me and Cameron and 10 years between me and Dan so I’m the man in the middle. I will happily fling open the bedroom door when he’s with his girlfriend and say, ‘If you make me a grandad at 30 I will cut it off.’
Social media really gets to him
‘I can get a million good news stories and tweets but I always see the negative ones. I don’t believe in the block button or the mute button, I like to live in the real world, not on my Twitter timeline where everyone is in love with me. But anyone who says they don’t care is a liar. There are certain buttons people press that will make me want to bite, but I also like seeing those tweets because it’s a daily reminder of the fact not everyone is going to like me. I used to respond a lot but I’ve now realised it’s not fair on the people who are tweeting me nice things all the time. I should really be responding to them instead, but the Stepney Green boy in me wants to claw the trolls’ eyes out.’
Rylan has collaborated with QVC UK to create home fragrance brand Luxenoa, a collection of scented candles, diffusers and accessories, launching exclusively at QVCUK.com