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Lunch with Rylan

Wearing an all-black ensemble, Rylan greets us with a friendly hello and handshake, bearing that infamous grin on his face that so many know him for. He's in Waterstones' Reading today doing a signing for his new book, 'The Life of Rylan', which comes at a time where he is becoming a household name. Recently announced as the new co-host of The X Factor, he also presents Big Brother's Bit on the Side and has a segment on This Morning, which he recently co-hosted with his partner Dan. With everything going on, we ask why now to write a book, when he could have done years ago?

   "I was offered to a book months after X Factor finished (being a former contestant) but I felt it was embarrassing, because I don't do products, but then last year I was asked again and they really wanted to know my story before X Factor, before anything really, so I agreed to do it but if I was going to do it I wanted to do it myself."

  While on the topic we bring up The X Factor, as Rylan tells us he had just finished filming his first day at Wembley Arena. "It's so weird being on the other side of the barrier" he laughs. "But it's so nice knowing that I can turn up and start work straight away rather than wake up at six o'clock in the morning and wait around for seven hours!" There is a certain amount of empathy Rylan emits when talking about his role as presenter for two reality shows he himself has been a part of, which makes the experience a whole lot more enjoyable and genuine, which he concurs with. "When the housemates come out in Big Brother, I can talk to them and relate, because I've been there y'know? It's the same with X Factor, and it's much more enjoyable that way, being able to impart some wise words of wisdom!"

"I've bumped into so many people on this book tour, it was like long lost families!"


   Reading is the penultimate stop of Rylan's book tour that has been incredibly successful, so much so that he arrives into store with very good news. "The book came out two days before the start of the tour, so I had no idea on sales, whether people were buying it or not and now I'm here today and it's number one!" he beams, flashing a smile, clearly very grateful and humbled by this news. I elaborate on the figures, by explaining how in my local branch in Coventry we had sold out within a day which is meant by a gasp, then a chuckle.
  "That's amazing, I'm really, really grateful. It just means a lot more that I've written the book myself, so I can say I'm not just a Sunday Times Bestseller, but a Sunday Times bestselling author." 
Rylan was approached by a ghostwriter in the early stages of the book process, but he ultimately turned it down, "I don't judge people at all for using ghostwriters, I actually met up with one and she was lovely, but I just knew that I had to do it and I wanted to do it. It means so much more when it's my number one and no-one elses."

"I'm literally on a forty six day stretch, I don't get a chance to relax or unwind!"

  Considering he's on a mammoth book tour, simultaneously hosting three television shows, and planning two more for ITV, I note how well he is looking which is met with another laugh. "It's a LOT of make up and fake tan! 2016 has turned out to be the year...I don't actually have a life, but y'know I'm prepared to do it and I'm really lucky to be doing it. Though having a three hour gap between shows can be strange at times."

  I then ask Rylan about hosting a segment on This Morning with his partner Dan, as it was certainly a big event not just for This Morning, but for ITV and TV in general, having the first same-sex couple present a morning prime-time show. "It was really surreal, the opportunity came up, but I wasn't sure, though Dan really wanted to do it, so we did, and it went down really really well. I'm so grateful for the reaction, and even though it is a moment of history, I don't really look at it that way, I'm just glad me and Dan got to it!" I throw the term role model into the conversation, saying how potentially young people may look up to him and Dan and use that moment to help them come to terms with their identity or overcome any issues they may be facing. "The word role model scares me" Rylan laughs softly "but I get what you're saying. People on this tour come up to me and say 'My dad really likes you, he thinks you're really funny which made it easier to tell him I'm gay or bi, or whatever it may be', and if I've helped anyone in any kind of way, then I'll be completely over the moon."

   What everyone loves about Rylan, and myself included after being in his company for just over ten minutes, is how genuine and lovely he is, which was clear in the segment with Dan, they were both so genuine and warming. "I don't act and I never mean to act" he explains, "there is a lot of people in this industry that do act but I am always myself. You see it on TV, read it in the book, backstage, onstage, I am the same person all the time. I didn't do this book to sell books at the end of the day, I did this for myself, to prove I could do it and meet amazing people on the way." A pivotal question is asked next, as to which emoji Rylan feels like he most resonates with, and he bares his teeth, showing them in full, resembling the said emoji gritting its teeth. "I wanna get my own emoji!" he declares, eyes sparking with excitement. With that, we say our thank you and goodbyes and Rylan heads down to begin his signing. 

   In a time where reality television seems to be on the verge of an all-important comeback, it is so refreshing to see people like Rylan emulating a natural kindness and sense of humour that is, not only needed to carry such shows, but so crucial in real life. What you see with Rylan, is truly what you get, and I couldn't have asked for more polite, engaging gentleman to interview. I was even fortunate to stay with Rylan and his wonderful team for lunch before they headed on to Basingstoke, as we all just had a natter over some sandwiches; true as his word, Rylan remained as engaging, polite and as humorous as ever. Hasn't he done well?

The Life of Rylan



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