• Tue. Mar 28th, 2023

Vick Hope tells Richard Godwin of her journey to dazzling success

Jan 29, 2023

A primetime Radio 1 show, gigs hosting next month’s Baftas and Brits – broadcaster Vick Hope tells Richard Godwin of her journey from Newcastle to dazzling success in her work and (check out the sparkler) love life

  • Vick Hope, 33, opens up about her joy for life and the exciting work ahead 
  • The broadcaster from Newcastle will co-host EE Bafta Film Awards red carpet
  • READ MORE: Newly-engaged Vick Hope commands attention in a red maxi dress as she departs the Rixo show during LFW

‘I’m. Just. So. Happy!’ says Vick Hope towards the end of our interview. And she bursts out laughing – the overflowing laughter of someone who can’t quite believe how well things are turning out. ‘I don’t know, I just feel more invigorated than I ever have before!’

At which point, I must admit defeat. I have been gently probing the Newcastle-born broadcaster, 33, curious to find a hint of negativity, a trace of resentment, a single iota of dissatisfaction. But I can’t.

Everything she does seems to bring her joy, from the YOU cover shoot (‘I felt like a kid in a sweet shop getting to wear those clothes!’) and her charity work with refugees, to the seven or eight presenting gigs she is holding down, including the Baftas, the Brits, her literary podcast Bookshelfie, and three shows on BBC Radio 1 including the plum drivetime spot.

‘I’m trying to always find the fun and lightness,’ she says in the warm Geordie tones familiar to millions of listeners. She sincerely wants to be your ‘ray of sunshine’, the ‘good energy’ in your day. Should her broadcasting career falter, I’d suggest she give herself up to medical science. Someone really needs to have a go at bottling this woman’s essence.

Vicki Hope (pictured) is as proud of Newcastle as it is possible to be and can rave about the beauty of Northumberland for a long time

Just now, however, everything points to Victoria Nwosu-Hope being a radio and TV fixture for the next ten, 20, 30 years. But contributing to her joie de vivre, I suspect, is the diamond the size of St James’s Park on her finger, which came courtesy of her fiancé, DJ and producer Calvin Harris.

According to reports, Harris (born Adam Richard Wiles) proposed to her on his farm in Ibiza last summer – and while she’d prefer to keep the details private (‘there’s a difference between secrecy and privacy’) she does confirm that a ‘very precious thing has happened’ and that ‘it was… perfect’.Which hasn’t stopped her Radio 1 co-host, Jordan North, teasing her mercilessly about the fact she spent Christmas zooming around the Caribbean on Harris’s private jet.

But it would be wrong to imagine that Hope is succeeding on anyone else’s terms – or to mistake her lightness for shallowness. The fact that her first journalism job was on a newspaper in Buenos Aires, that her spell in Argentina came in the middle of her Cambridge University Portuguese, French and Spanish degree and that she had already taught herself Spanish A-level because her school, to which she won a full scholarship, didn’t offer it, tells you she is not to be underestimated.

She was a ‘geek’ at school, she insists, far more into work than partying – and recently she fulfilled a lifelong dream by appearing as a celebrity guest on Countdown’s Dictionary Corner. Still, she was clearly always a romantically minded geek. When I ask her why Spanish, it turns out that it had a lot to do with a hot boy she met on a beach on a family holiday to Nicaragua. She fell for him. But they couldn’t communicate. ‘I was like, ‘Well, I’d best learn Spanish, then’,’ she says.

After university, Hope threw herself into a broadcasting career, accruing a rather madly varied range of experience. Top, annakiki.com. Earrings and cuff, deborahblyth.com

And if you’re wondering what kind of family holidays in Nicaragua? Well, the answer is, the Nwosu-Hope family – who still feature prominently in her life. Hope’s mother, Adeline, grew up in a small Nigerian village during the Biafran War, before emigrating to Newcastle as a child along with a sister and two brothers.

‘They didn’t speak a word of English and they then took a little one-bedroom flat and started a life. My mum used to tell me stories about it when I was a kid – but it doesn’t really hit home how much of a challenge that would have been in the 70s in the North of England,’ Hope says. It was cold enough for Adeline to get chilblains on her first winter, and African faces were few and far between – but in other respects, Newcastle turned out to be the ideal destination. ‘It’s the friendliest, most welcoming place you could be. If you’re going to go anywhere in England, go to Newcastle.’

Adeline met Hope’s dad, Nigel, at a fairground when they were both teenagers – and they’ve been together ever since. ‘They say they had their first kiss on a big wheel,’ says Hope, who confesses to being ‘in awe’ of them both. ‘My mum grew up during a war, running from air raids, starving and housing soldiers. It’s only since I read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun that I got the sociopolitical context for the stories she told me. I think it really instilled her with a sense of perspective. To her, success is health and happiness and safety and community and family.’

The family moved to the countryside of Northumberland when Hope was small (Nigel worked as a software engineer, Adeline as a saleswoman) and operated according to their own rhythms. There was no TV in the house and Hope didn’t learn about Santa Claus until school since the family would spend Christmases backpacking around Southeast Asia, Africa or Latin America – hence the holiday romance in Nicaragua. ‘According to my parents, we could afford one holiday a year. So instead of doing presents they felt that the more enriching experience would be to go and see the world.’ It would appear to have paid off, not only in Hope’s intense curiosity about, well, pretty much everything (‘The world is so interesting, so exciting! I want to learn new things every day’) but in the family’s continued closeness.

According to reports, Calvin Harris (born Adam Richard Wiles) proposed to her on his farm in Ibiza last summer. The couple pictured in May

This was also a time when she realised that just because there was a microphone in front of her she didn’t have to say anything. Dress, georgiahardinge.co.uk. Cuffs, pebblelondon.com, deborahblyth.com


Red or white wine?

Generally red, but nothing beats a crisp, cold white on a hot summer’s day

Theatre or TV?

TV, it’s my job! I love going to the theatre with my mum, though – we get each other tickets to shows for birthdays and it always feels like special quality time

Tea or coffee?

Coffee – flat white with full-fat milk, to be exact

Netflix or night out?

Night out, always! I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been halfway into a Netflix show on a ‘quiet night in’ only to receive a spontaneous-night-out text and cave immediately, no arm-twisting necessary

Heels or trainers?

Trainers 99 per cent of the time. But that one per cent in heels is golden

London or Newcastle?

Home is where the heart is

Nice meal or night club?

Nice meal! With the right company and conversation that can last all night

Dressing up or dressing down?

Dressing up when I can be bothered makes me feel amazing

Shower or bath?

Showers 99 per cent of the time. But again, that one per cent bathtime is golden!

Cat or dog?

I have no idea how or when this happened but I appear to have turned from a cat person into a dog person…some time over the past year, I think

Indoors or outdoors?

Outdoors! Get me in nature

Night owl or early bird?

Weirdly, I’ve become more of an early bird since I stopped presenting breakfast radio (when I was definitely a night owl)

Book or podcast?

Book. Or even better, a podcast about books – check out Bookshelfie! (Cheeky plug)

When I ask what she is most proud of, she says it’s the relationship she has with her three younger brothers: Louis, 30, who lives in London and works in recruitment; Theo, 26, who lives in Sheffield and plays rugby for Rotherham, and Gabe, 24, who lives in Liverpool and plays in a band.

‘It’s not lost on me how fortunate we are to have had those experiences and to have seen so much of the world. My mum always tells me the story about when she was little, in her village in Nigeria, she’d look up and see the canopy over the trees and thought that was the top of the world. She didn’t know it went any further. So she said that she wanted us to see beyond the canopy and just keep seeing more.’

Not that her northeastern roots are any less important to her. Hope is as proud of Newcastle as it is possible to be and can rave about the beauty of Northumberland for a long time. ‘When I go back and I see the Tyne Bridge, I get a jolt in my stomach. And you get off the train and the air tastes different. I absolutely love it, I get home as much as I can…’

Indeed, she says that when she arrived at her college in Cambridge, the biggest culture shock wasn’t the number of posh public-school kids, nor the lack of non-white faces – she was already used to being the only non-white person from school. ‘What I couldn’t believe was how few Northerners there were,’ she laughs. ‘A lot of people would ask questions as though the North is a foreign country and there’s no electricity or something.’

After university, Hope threw herself into a broadcasting career, accruing a rather madly varied range of experience: presenting Crufts, the Paralympics on Channel 4 and boxing on Sky Sports. She is also an Amnesty International Ambassador, a Women’s Prize for Fiction judge, host of the mental health show Life Hacks on Radio 1 and has recently become the first celebrity partner for Liz Earle Beauty Co.

It has meant, though, that the past ten years have been pretty relentless – and the collapse of any distinction between private and public life took its toll. Back in 2018, Hope was presenting the breakfast show on Capital FM, dancing on Strictly in the evenings and fulfilling any number of other responsibilities in between. Often she’d make it to bed at 3am only to have to get up at 4am.

‘I was [operating] on no sleep. And when you’re tired, everything is heightened. Sometimes I would struggle to navigate my emotions. I collapsed, essentially. My mum was stroking my head and saying: ‘You’ve got to stop chasing, otherwise where does this all go? Where does it end?’

This was also a time when she realised that just because there was a microphone in front of her she didn’t have to say anything. ‘I always felt the need to try to explain – but it then gives more quotes that can be taken further out of context.’

Hence her reluctance to discuss her relationship with Harris – or to share any photos of him on her Instagram. ‘We don’t really put anything on social media because the time we have together is ‘real life’ and it’s our own. For the first time in a long time, I’m finishing work and going home to a life that is just mine. I’m learning to find balance and peace.’

You’d imagine that Harris is made up – she has let slip that he actually first made a move on her back when he was still rather a pasty bedroom DJ enjoying his first flush of success with his hit ‘Acceptable in the 80s’. She rejected him. ‘It’s something that we laughed about on our first proper date. We still laugh about it now.’ It’s been quite a journey for him since: Harris has dated the likes of Taylor Swift, acquired an estimated £200-plus million fortune, and a rich person’s physique too.

As we speak, Nigel and Adeline are backpacking around Sri Lanka, which Hope is delighted about. Top and trousers, palmerharding.com. Earrings, pebblelondon.com. Heels, jimmychoo.com

I wonder if entering that world alters your perspective – particularly when you don’t come from a particularly wealthy background? But Hope stresses that the difference between their careers isn’t so great. ‘We both have very busy work schedules: I’ll join him when I can and then I come back for my work,’ she says.

Crucially, Adeline and Nigel appear to approve. Hope cherishes a memory of them dancing to Harris’s tune ‘We Found Love’ at Glastonbury last summer. ‘Adam was DJing at 2am at the Arcadia stage. I was working for Radio 1 and I wasn’t broadcasting all morning and my parents came, too.’

So her parents really did find love in a hopeless place, she laughs. ‘Then they were found in a bar sitting next to Liam Gallagher fast asleep by a fire. They somehow found these light-up flower garlands for their heads and my dad was wearing some kind of kente cloth and I was like: ‘I left you for five minutes..!’ They had the time of their life, dancing to those tunes. It made me so happy.’

As we speak, Nigel and Adeline are backpacking around Sri Lanka, which Hope is delighted about. She’d worried that the pandemic had killed their wanderlust, but it’s quite the opposite. ‘They keep sending us pictures of their breakfast or the tuk-tuk they’re in. I’m just like: ‘Yes! Live!’ You don’t know what’s going to happen next. I just truly believe that we should live as fully as we can while we can.’

Vick Hope will co-host the EE Bafta Film Awards red carpet on Sunday 19 February on BBC One and iPlayer

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