The Blog

Is Reality TV a Credible Route to Fame? I Meet Ross King

Getting into the public eye has never been easier, but is reality television a credible and sustainable route into show business? I recently spoke withLA correspondent, Ross King, to get his take on the subject.

On Monday, another series of structured-reality show Made in Chelsea debuted on E4. Later today, Channel 5 will air the finale of Big Brother's fifteenth series.

Getting into the public eye has never been easier, but is reality television a credible and sustainable route into show business?

I recently spoke with Good Morning Britain's LA correspondent, Ross King, to get his take on the subject.

Ross - in my opinion - is someone who's forged a credible career in the public spotlight.

"I never had any particular intention or desire to be famous," commented Ross, "I just wanted to do a job that I enjoyed."

Ross' career has been so diverse that he's gone from DJ-ing on radio, to broadcasting on television and now publishing a novel with his friend Shari Low, called Taking Hollywood.

Ross made it through hard work, not reality TV. Here's how...

After narrowly missing out on becoming a professional footballer, Ross was pointed in the direction of a local radio station by his maths teacher.

At the age of 15, Ross got a job with Radio Clyde as a production assistant where he was responsible for making tea and photocopying scripts.

Two years later, Ross managed to persuade producers to give him a nightime radio show. He worked the graveyard shift from 2am to 6am, alongside his job as a production assistant.

"I would get home at 7am, have a quick hour's sleep and then get back to work for 9am," said Ross, "I'd like to think of myself as a grafter."

As a "17 year old with longish blonde hair in the WHAM! era", Radio Clyde soon sent Ross out to host live road shows with crowds of over 3000 people.

With more presenting experience under his belt, Ross took it upon himself to take the next the step in his career and venture into the world of television.

Ross would regularly scour the newspapers for details of upcoming television productions, then find out who the producer was and send over his credentials.

He secured a role with BBC Scotland and then had his first big break presenting Young Krypton for ITV, using this method.

"3,600 people applied for the job on Young Krypton, but mine was the first on the producer's desk," recalled Ross.

After getting in with ITV, the rest is history and Ross has been a regular on their daytime programming - GMTV, Daybreak, Good Morning Britain or whatever they call it now - since 1993.

Now, people don't have to work as hard as Ross to get their big break.

Someone like Rylan is a prime example of how routes to fame have changed.

After making it to the live shows on The X Factor, Rylan became famous for his larger-than-life personality and leveraged this for a spot on Celebrity Big Brother.

After winning Celebrity Big Brother, Rylan became the host of spin-off show Big Brother's Bit on the Side, despite having almost zero experience.

While I'm sure that Rylan has worked hard at presenting to learn his craft and remain in his role, it's hard to give him the same professional respect that Ross commands.

It's for that reason that I would advise people looking to work in showbusiness to tread carefully when it comes to reality TV.

I think a lot of people assume that you can just go on TV, be loved and flooded with offers for work.

Yes, that does happen for some people - like Rylan - but there are so many reality stars now that the chances of it happening for you are slim.

Last week former Made in Chelsea star Mille Mackintosh posed in a skip... The Sun ran a story that 'Millie ended up in a skip... like her showbiz career".

Being famous and credible simply isn't as easy as you might think.

When I was on The Apprentice, 'Harry M' reached the #1 worldwide trend on Twitter for eight consecutive weeks.

My Twitter feed was flooded with positive comments, people were writing to me and saying that I was their 'business icon'.

It was at that moment that I realised that I didn't want to be famous for being famous.

I was sixteen years old, I didn't deserve to be called a 'business icon'.

I didn't want that to be my personal brand because I couldn't possibly expect the wider population to accept it.

It's for that reason that I told my first agent, who had arranged meetings with Made in Chelsea and Celebrity Big Brother, that I wanted to distance myself from reality TV.

He soon dropped me because it lowered my immediate earning potential, but I think I made the right move.

After making my decision against reality TV, I independently pitched a blog to Yahoo! and have managed to sustain a working relationship with them for the past two years.

Blogs turned to vlogs, and vlogs turned to broadcasting... Only because I would never let the editor get off the phone before approving one of my ideas!

I like to think that I have managed to salvage some credibility by doing this, despite emerging from reality TV, but I know there's still a lot more to do.

My advice is thus.. Don't make the same mistakes as me. Don't make the same mistakes as Millie Mackintosh.

Yes, reality TV is easy and could turn you into the next Rylan... but it's unlikely.

If you want a career like Ross King, who has never been out of work, then it takes hard work.

I hope I've got my point across, but - just in case I haven't - I'm going to finish with some of Ross' advice.

"The word that I always use for people getting into the business is tenacity."

"There's a lot of luck involved in show business but more you practice the luckier you get."

"With every job I got, I honed what I did and tried to learn from the best... that was my thing, asking questions and learning. I never stop watching people and learning."

If you want to learn more about show business, a good place to start might be Ross' new book, Taking Hollywood, that was written with Shari King and is out now.

Ross described it as "a real gritty, raunchy thriller. It's the kind of book that I'd love to read. I've gone over it six times and I still enjoy it, I still cry in parts and I love the characters that Shari and I created."

"When people like Jackie Collins and Martina Cole, who I really admire and respect, and straight forward friends like Lorraine Kelly praise the book... it means a lot."