4th February 2022
Photography & Editor in Chief: Owen James Vincent
Make Up Artist: Jessica McQuaid
Hairstylist: Anthea Hudson
Styling: Megan Smales
Interview: Jordan Arthur
Assistant: Laurence Leat
Logo Design: Emily Curtis
A big thanks to Rozzie at DawBell
Our February Cover Star and very special guest is BBC Radio 1's own Vick Hope, who is the co-host of three primetime shows to include: Going Home, Life Hacks, The Official Chart: First Look, and so much more. Vick talks to ReVamp about hosting the BBC’s brand-new show, Britain's Best Young Artist which starts on 7th February, her children's books, and working with families trying to cope during the pandemic.
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Hi Vick, thank you so much for talking to ReVamp! There’s so much we could talk about, but I’ll start by asking about your amazing new drivetime show on BBC Radio 1. How are you finding settling into such a huge show?
Co-hosting the drivetime slot is a very unexpected dream come true. I’ve always loved listening to Radio 1, and now to be a part of it, every day, feels very special. It also feels like things come full circle; I remember being in the car and listening to a previous incarnation of this show on the way home from school, and now I’m co-hosting my own version.
It’s so much fun. I think it’s a place with a great culture. It feels like there’s so much respect, between everyone that works there, and also respect for our listeners.
Everything is about the listeners. We’re there to entertain them, to be company for them, to be a community. And I really get a sense of that. Jordan [North] and I are always so blown away by how many messages we get every day, how invested our listeners are in every little thing that happens – they don’t miss a trick. Every single thing you say, they take note of and engage with.
I know it sounds super cliché, but it really does feel like a family – I’ve never experienced anything like it.
When I joined Radio 1, initially it was for Life Hacks - a show about providing a forum for young people – which I’d wanted to do for a long time. Going Home wasn’t something I really had in my vision, at least not straight away, but it happened and it’s been an absolute ride.
I’ve formed this really incredible friendship with Jordan and the producers, and we’re having a blast – and I hope the listeners are having a blast too. It’s chaos, don’t get me wrong, but it's just the most brilliant chaos.
You have such an easy chemistry with your co-host, Jordan North, which is the making of any radio show – is that the sort of thing you can test or prepare for before launching a new presenting team? Had you guys worked together before drivetime?
It’s a little of both. We had maybe one or two demos, and Aled – the boss at Radio 1 - was like ‘That’s it. It works’. We didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t know if it would work. We’d only met a couple of times (once at a party and once during Jordan’s stint on I’m A Celeb – and even that was only over video link), so it was a bit of a gamble. But we wouldn’t have got the job if it hadn't worked, if there wasn’t something there.
I was very nervous because Jordan is a brilliant broadcaster, and he’s been doing Radio 1 for such a long time. He has very dedicated fans, and a brilliant style which is very much his own. I didn’t want to come in and ruin that. And I voiced that; to Jord and our boss. But Jordan said ‘No, I want you. I asked for you.’
It’s our show, so we both bring our own styles, our own interests. We have different types of fanbases, and hopefully appeal to different types of people. And that’s the whole point – the sum of its parts has to be more than us as separate broadcasters.
I don’t doubt there are people out there we have to convince who might say ‘Why isn’t it just Jordan on his own?’ and the truth is, that’s not the show that we wanted to make.
We wanted to make a show that is an amalgamation of people from different places, with different stories to tell. So far, our listeners have really taken to it and feel like part of our little club, part of our chat around a table at the pub, that anyone can pull a stool up to.
It's more than what we expected. It’s so fun, and so brilliant and it’s a real friendship.
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Your work in radio also partly inspired your co-written debut children’s novel Listen Up: Rule the Airwaves, Rule the School - with a sequel published last year. Could you tell us a little bit about how this project came about? Any plans for more entries in the series?
I remember the feeling of getting lost in a good story when I was younger, not wanting to put a book down, and then being a bit upset when it was over! It’s the best feeling in the world, and every kid deserves it. Especially after the last couple of years, when everyone’s been inside, they need good stories and worlds to escape to.
I was very touched and honoured that Scholastic approached Roman and I while we were doing Capital Breakfast and we thought ‘What is it we want to write about? What do we know?’ Well, we know radio, we know the way it connects people, and how it’s a way of using your voice.
It’s important to me that kids know that they can use their voice, know their power, know that they can incite change if they speak up. If they listen up, and they shout out. We wanted to write books about that – about kids using radio as a platform to tell their own stories, but also to know their own power.
The second book touches a little bit on protest and kids realising that they can put pressure on the authorities to do the right thing, and if they know something isn’t right, they can do something about that. I’ve always had a little bit of a revolutionary spirit ever since I was in school and working for Amnesty International since I was very young. I’ve always thought if something isn’t right, let’s do something about that and it all starts with knowing the power of our voices.
Plus, if they’re interested in student media, something I know plenty about from school and uni, then they can get involved! All you really need these days is a phone. So hopefully it inspires them to use their voices in whatever way feels right for them.
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Folks will also have seen you on their TV screens, between Strictly and presenting for everything from Sky Sports to The Voice. You’ll soon be hosting Best British Young Artist along with former art teacher and Kaiser Chiefs frontman, Ricky Wilson. What can you tell us about this show ahead of the launch?
Yes! Ricky’s an amazing artist – blew me away! We do loads of art challenges as part of the show, and obviously he’s an amazing artist and I’m… Well, he said to me “Vick, you don’t necessarily have much artistic talent, but you have buckets of artistic confidence.”
We’ve been up and down the country looking for Britain’s best young artists. It has narrowed down to 27, and they come from a range of disciples, from portraiture to still life, landscapes, street art, and more. Every episode has a different focus and an amazing guest artist who gives the contestants a unique workshop, and then they go and produce a masterpiece.
The best work from each episode, as judged by Ricky and the guest artist, goes through to the semi-finals where they have to make a piece of art for an inspirational celeb, and the best of those goes to the final. Sort of in the Bake Off style but rather than eliminations its winners goes through.
It's so warm, and we’re hoping it will be inspiring too. Watching should make kids, (and adults for that matter), want to pick up a sketch pad and have a go. Making art just feels so cathartic, therapeutic... And fun. It’s a great thing to do.
My favourite thing in the show was seeing the way these talented young artist’s minds work. Every episode there’s an inspiration day, where all the artists go and share some experience – abseiling, going on a riverboat, whatever it is – and yet from that same experience, they all go off and create in totally different directions, and I found that so fascinating.
It’s a brilliant thing to be able to express that so freely which leads to this amazing diversity of art.
The young artists in the program will be bringing a range of styles and personalities in their work, is there anything you're particularly excited for people to see?
The art studio is amazing. If I were between the ages of 8 and 14 like our artists and I’d seen that art studio, I would have gone mad. Just running around and picking up all the different materials and utensils and things I wouldn’t have seen before. There was a rubber, a sort of motorized eraser – very, very thin – that’s used for sketchers who do very fine, meticulous work so they can just get into the tiniest detail with this eraser – that blew my mind.
I’m really excited for people to see, as our artists did, the scope of what can be achieved, and all the ways in which we can create art.
I think a lot of people think ‘I can’t draw’ and therefore think they can’t create art, but that just isn’t true.
In one episode (with an environmental slant), we went on a beach clean-up and the contestants created art with the litter they collected. And that’s really exciting because no one should be locked out of art – and we want to show the ways in which literally everyone can be involved.
The kids are all from different backgrounds, and it was a really good chance for them to meet other like-minded young people. A lot of them came in and said ‘I’m the only arty person in my school’ and they finally got to meet other kids with their interests. We had a load of them back for the finals, and it was really nice to see how a lot of them had kept in touch.
I found the kids so inspiring and brilliant, and it was so hard to say goodbye to a couple of them every episode – thankfully I didn’t have to judge.
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In your free time (which you… have?) you’re involved with a bunch of charities and campaigns, inspired partly by growing up in a home that regularly sent money/supplies to family in rural Nigeria. What are some of the biggest concerns you’re seeing coming up right now, especially for kids, now we’re nearly two years into the pandemic?
I’m very acutely aware of the fact that we are not all born with the same privileges. As a result, I feel like we have a responsibility if we have more.
When I was growing up, my mum told me stories about how she’d grown up running away from air raids and bombs during the Biafran war. They didn’t have any food, only being fed sporadically by the Red Cross, and from that I was very aware that life isn’t fair. I think sometimes we forget that.
We’ve seen it during the pandemic, it's pulled into focus a lot of inequality that exists here in the UK – and kids are bearing the brunt of that. Their education is being disrupted, because of the isolation, because not everyone has access to the resources they need to learn, grow, build confidence, to reach their potential, to be socially stimulated.
Kids should be allowed to run outside and play games together, and read, and learn - not all kids can.
I work with refugee kids in Hackney through Akwaaba. During the pandemic I was helping out with food parcels and essentials, but also helping them in dealing with the council and local authorities, navigating all the systems.
You’re seeing three little kids and their parents in a one-bed tiny council flat, with no outdoor space. They may not fully understand the ever-changing lockdown rules, so might not even be going out for walks because they didn’t know they could.
When you see that, you think these kids do not have the right resources or environment to thrive at all, and it's not fair. And that gets me, I get really upset. I think if we can do anything to help level the playing field, then we will.
It's a human right abuse for kids to be in such dire situations.
The mental health toll must be something you’re seeing come up even more as a result of these situations?
I present Life Hacks on Radio 1 on a Sunday, which is a platform for young people to air issues, and since the pandemic mental health has come up every single week. We talk about anxiety, depression, feeling trapped, loneliness – as well as the fact that young people feel like their futures are in the balance as their exams are cancelled.
They were getting these grades that weren’t reflecting their ability. The job market is so competitive, and so many are wondering what their futures are going to look like. It’s been so hard for young people and I don’t feel like they’ve been given enough attention at all.
It’s just so daunting. If there’s anything we can do to shine a light on what opportunities are out there, the different ways in which they could navigate this minefield, then we’ll use Life Hacks to do it. There are resources to help, but they’re not always well publicised.
We’ve done a series which focuses on careers, we invite an expert on to talk us through how to move into the job market in spite of everything that’s going on and we’ve done a Life Hacks toolkit just on mental health. Young people are also very conscious of the ongoing climate crisis, so we did a ‘how to save the planet’ toolkit on all the ways we can help to make the environment better.
Finally, and this feels like a ludicrous question given just how much you have going on at the moment, is there anything on the horizon you can share with us?
I’m so excited for Britain’s Best Young Artist to start next week. We’ve also started filming the second series of ITV’s science show, HOW, which is just so much fun. We do everything from exploding a toilet to learning about reactive metals. We’ve done a lot of our location shoots for that and this week we’ve started on the studio shoot.
I’ve worked with the Women’s Prize for Fiction for the last few years, I was a judge last year, reading 74 books! This year I will be hosting a couple of series of their podcasts which I’m so excited for as I’ll get to interview incredible women about the books that have shaped them which for me, is just a dream. I just love reading and it’s so brilliant to uplift women’s voices and uplift the brilliant literature that women are producing.
We’ll start to work on the third series of my podcast Songs to Live By on BBC Sounds (series 1 and series 2 are out and can be listened to online). It’s about the songs that have shaped so many brilliant black guests. So many inspirational trailblazers in their fields. Every episode focuses on two black sports people, authors, actors, musicians, and the songs that soundtrack their coming of age… Afrobeat, hip hop, R&B, soul, Motown – it’s so sumptuous and I think it's really entertaining.
And I hope that our Radio 1 show continues to entertain people as they are going home!