Tim Lovejoys Story

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Hi, my name is Tim Lovejoy and TV is my hustle.

I started my life in Middlesex and then my parents decided they wanted to go to an area which was in growth. So we moved to growing Surrey, then we moved to the Hertfordshire and then we moved. That’s where I went to school. So I grew up kind of out in the sticks, really, it’s quite a nice childhood, really.

I was always bored, always active. Just wanted to play football all the time, exercise, do stuff like that. You know, run around, play sport.  That’s all I cared about doing really. And that’s what I did; I played football from morning to night like most kids I suppose that’s what you do.

I just assumed one day I’d be scouted – this ridiculous thing about me; through my life I just thought I wasn’t yet scouted because I just hate losing. I always win. I think I’m a winner. And I just thought one day someone’s going to come and find me.

And I just assumed that once I ended up being scouted by what for the local club or you know, someone else, Chelsea or something then I’d end up training a lot and then become a really good player, be solid – just end up playing football for a living. So I just assumed – I always assumed that’s what I would do. But obviously, I slipped through the net or wasn’t good enough. No, I refuse to believe I wasn’t good enough.

I didn’t really like school. We had a very modern school. The school had just been built so my class was one of those temporary classroom things on stilts, on wheels. As for the education a lot of my teachers didn’t think I’d get my qualifications but when it came down to the time I just applied myself and got a lot of levels back then – that’s how old I am – it was the last year of those.

And then I just didn’t know what to do after that so I went off to college thinking I’d do something like become a physiotherapist or something because I hadn’t been captured by or spotted by a football team. So I thought I’d become a physiotherapist or something.

And then I realized that there was girls, and drink, and parties, and clubs, and things like that. So I started not going to college and eventually – it was actually a very embarrassing time – I got home one day my mom and dad said, “Can I have a chat with you?”

I said, “Yeah.”

And they went, “Been up to your college today for an open evening. And it’s really quite embarrassing Tim because your teachers don’t know who you are. They haven’t met you.”

I have an older brother. Sadly, he passed away about six years ago. He was 37 years old. He got pancreatic cancer. And it’s devastating really, it’s really changed my life hugely because it’s weird when you go from being in a family where there’s two kids – me and my brother – you’ve got a brother then all of a sudden you’re an only child. Puts real weird stresses and strains on the family and you know, I just miss him.

It’s weird when you spend all your life, growing up with your brother and he dies. It’s quite strange. Cancer’s quite a horrendous disease because my brother’s still very intelligent and conscious yet his body was dying and it was just really horrible to watch.

Since then I don’t really watch horror movies or anything which is depressing because once you’ve lived through someone dying of cancer self-censorship is kind of an important thing.

There’s a movie I always watched with him. I remember the time I made that decision, it was the girl who was going to be a boxer and Clint Eastwood was her manager, what was that called?

“Million Dollar Baby,” “Million Dollar Baby,” and I was really enjoying the movie and then she ends up in a coma in the hospital. And it’s like, “I don’t want to watch this.” And since then I just choose not to watch anything which is horrific anymore, or sad because you know, once you’ve been through it all for real, why would you want to put yourself through those emotions again?

I was sitting in a café one night and this bloke sat next to me – it was this thing, I used to go clubbing a lot in town and there was this place called “Up All Night,” I think it was in Fullham.  You get a burger for 4:00 in the morning or something and I was having this burger and there’s this guy, he said to me – and God’s honest truth, this changed my life – he said to me, “You look really miserable.”

I said, “Ugh, I am, yeah. I’m not enjoying my life.”

So he said, “Well, I’m in my late 30’s,” or something, “I’m going through a divorce and I hate my job.” He said, “You’re so young,” I was in my early 20’s. “You’re so young, follow your dreams. Go and find something you want to do.”

I know it sounds like a movie but it was true. I thought that day, “Right, that’s what I am going to do.” Got up the next day and thought, “I’m going to follow my dream. I’m want to be on TV. That’s how I can do it. I can talk and I can hold conversations with people. I’m not stupid. What qualifications do you need to be in front of a camera on TV?” And I thought you don’t need any.

So that’s where I come in. That’s the job for me. So you know, and then I set about trying to get myself a job on TV and the journey began.

I didn’t get a job for ages. What I used to do is I used to – I gave up all normal work and I used to go around and I used to make show reels of myself. And in this day and age you know, you can do it on your mobile phone, or you can do it on a camera, or you can do it anywhere. Everyone’s got flips or something they can make themselves a show reel on.

In those days I actually had to hire a cameraman and a sound guy. And then I used to have to take it to get it edited so it was a really costly experience which was a good thing.  It meant not everybody could do it but it also meant that I had to go and work.

So I used to work in bars and I used to work as a swag man as well. I used to go and sell t-shirts with bands on the road. I’d pick-up any work anywhere. And then with all the money I’d make from doing that I would then put into making show reels. The cost was really the editing of them and you have to get them made into VHS’ and send them around.

At that time TV had just exploded. You know they always say, “There’s so many books around at the moment, the right place, the right time,” it was definitely a case of that for me.

My ambition in life was just to get my face on TV presenting something myself and the first time I managed that was a great guy called Brian Diamond, MTV and he watched my show reel and he said, “I think there’s something there for you. I think there’s something in you.” So he said, “Come along, you’re going to cover for Pip Down at the Movies on MTV.”

And I turned up there and I had no idea really how TV worked but I was covering for Pip Down for a week and she used to do a show every night, “MTV at the Movies.” And I turned up for the first one, one outfit, and they went. “Where’s the rest of your clothes?”

“Why?”

And they said, “We shoot five in a row.”

And I was like, “No, well, I’ve only got one outfit.” So my first experience at being – this is true – the first experience of being on MTV at the Movies I’m actually wearing some of Pip Down’s clothes, who’s a woman. I was going, “Denim jacket, that’ll do.” I was wearing a denim jacket in one and I was trying to find anything that would – because she had a wardrobe there – that would be sort of unisex.

But yeah, I did a couple of weeks on “MTV at the Movies.” But I was awful. I was so bad. I mean really, really beyond bad. But for some reason I just had this ridiculous confidence that I thought, “Hey, I’ll carry on doing it. I’m going to be good one day.” But I was – I mean, seriously bad. I think most people would’ve just given up.

I actually remember writing off to lots of agents. And I wrote to Peter Power who was one of the big agents around James Grant Management and he wrote a lovely letter back to me saying, “I think you’re good but the best thing you could do is probably get yourself experience behind the camera.”

What Peter was really saying was, “You’re rubbish, work behind the camera not in front of the camera.” But what I took it is he thinks I’m brilliant and if I get an experience behind the camera I’ll then be good in front of the camera.

I wasn’t great, I’d be honest with you, but I always had that belief in me that I could be good. And I did go and learn all the stuff behind the camera when eventually got myself a job on “The Big Breakfast,” as a researcher.

And as I said, TV industry was exploding at that time so people just moving off in all directions to go and work on live TV, and all these other things which were coming along; digital, and satellite, and cable, and things. So people moved up very quickly; within two years on being on “The Big Breakfast,” I ended up as the producer.

And at that stage I sort of learned what I’m doing behind the camera as well as still carrying on and making show reels and learning what I was doing in front of the camera. When the two things came together eventually, I got the job on Soccer AM you know, that’s when the career exploded and things happened for me.

Football at that time, people forget that it’s about football, no one wanted to touch football, you could not get football on breakfast TV. People hated it.

You know, there’d been football violence, we’ve been banned from Europe, the players were, you know, uncouth and they were then regarded as pretty scummy, really. I mean, no one wanted to be associated with football at all.

But Sky had taken over and I’d still carry on playing, still watching, I still loved it. And Sky had taken over and I was seeing it was going to change, people go down the pub to watch Monday night game or on a Sunday.

And there was a show called “Soccer AM,” and it had been running for a season or two, or something. And it was just – it was just one of those bland football phone-in type shows that showed some goal highlights and the football phone-in. And they asked me if I could come in and produce it.

And I looked and said, “Wasn’t good money and a lot of hard work,” and I was enjoying myself in “The Big Breakfast” so I said no. And another guy who had actually seen that I’d sent in my show reel – sending out all those show reels had worked – and he said, “You know what? This guy presents as well. Why don’t you offer him the chance,” to my boss at that time, “To produce and present it. He might jump at that.”

So I said, “Producer and presenter,” I took a pay cut but I thought I’m never going to get this opportunity again. I could not believe it, you know, that thing that I said when I was a kid and someone’s going to come and give you a job, it actually happened. Somebody had come and said, “Do you want to be player-manager of your own TV show?”

I was like, “Yeah?” And so I took a pay cut but just absolutely loved it. I used to work most absolutely ridiculous long hours, put so much effort into that show. To begin with, only had tens of thousands of people watching it. By the end we had millions. It was just a real – it was a fantastic experience. 11 years of doing Soccer AM and 11 years of it but I loved every minute of it.

People always ask me if miss doing Soccer AM; I miss writing comedy, and I miss hanging out with the guys – that was really good fun. But you have to keep moving on in life. There’s nothing worse than watching, you know, a band doing the same stuff continually throughout their career. You’ve got to move on.

But I think only the Rolling Stones have ever done it, haven’t they? They actually kept going. But no one does it and you have to move on. I can’t be the guy who was walking up and down the catwalk with 18 year old girls when I was getting too old basically.

And I’d just managed to get myself a job on the BBC doing something for the weekend and I had this offer of setting up this internet company at the same time at Fuller. So the decision wasn’t that hard eventually, I thought I’ve got an opportunity here to actually move, if I don’t do it now I might be doing it forever.

Do I miss doing “Soccer AM?” Yes, I do because I miss not being involved in football and all that but I had to move otherwise – you’ve got to keep evolving and moving on. And I had to grow up and do something else. And so you know, fantastically, it’s worked for me. I did five years on something for the weekend.

Now I’m on Channel 4 doing Sunday Brunch. I’m actually doing music radio on XFM, I was able to go on the BBC to do shows for the five live and if I stayed on “Soccer AM” it’s taken so much of my time I wouldn’t have had the experience of doing all those other things so it was a good move. But I do kind of miss it every now and then.

How fortunate am I? Well, I’ve gone through lots of depression when I was trying to make it at the beginning, loads of times I’ve had to get my self-belief back, get my confidence back.

I’ve worked really hard when everyone else was going off on holidays I was saving up all my money so I can make show reels. I didn’t go on holiday for years. I spent ages writing to people, trying my hardest, so when I did get a job I was always first – advice for everyone out there – I was always first and last out, make my boss coffee, make yourself useful.

I tried really hard. I think I tried harder than a lot of people I know who are trying to do the same thing. But am I fortunate, yeah, of course I’m fortunate. I’ve got a great job, yeah, definitely. Definitely, hard work, but yeah, fortunate.

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