Ore Oduba on everything from his ornithophobia to his Strictly win!
You’ve hosted some incredible television and sporting shows, what has been a highlight for you and why?
I have been very lucky to work on a number of amazing shows, some big brand network programmes like this morning, The One Show, BBC Breakfast – and other flagship TV shows. But, for me, in the hosting world, being a lead anchor at the Olympic Games was an absolute highlight. My plan A in life was to be an athlete. But when that dream faded away, to be able to host the Olympics became my target. Being at Rio was truly amazing, especially as it was such a record- breaking Olympics, then getting Strictly off the back of that has meant it has been an unforgettable year.
Live TV can be a little tricky to handle when things go out of control, has this ever happened to you and what did you do to get things back on track?
When I’ve been on live programmes, we have mostly kept control. I have worked with kids and animals live, but control is something I have always tried to maintain.
Although, speaking of animals, I do have a phobia of birds – called ornithophobia. However, on live TV, I have it twice tried to take this on and overcome it. The first time at Wimbledon when I met hawk that resides there, his name is Rufus – he was one of the main residents. I thought lets challenge myself and meet him and actually I did very well. The thing that is great about Rufus is that he is so well-trained. But, when we were live on air they took his eye guards off, which prompted his bird of prey mode. So, he tried to jump out of my arms, and his wing span practically the length of centre court! Luckily, he was quickly taken away from me.
Ore has had a few questionable encounters with birds on live TV!
Indy the parrot on This Morning, was my next bird challenge that I tried to overcome on live TV. The idea was that I would have the parrot on my arm and this would help me to make steps in overcoming the phobia. But, by the time it came down to it and we were on air, the bird was a lot bigger than I had imagined and I felt its full force on my arm as he clawed its way up!
So, although I haven’t lost control on live TV, I still haven’t quite overcome my phobia.
What can you bring to a live event?
All of my broadcasting experience has been in live TV on the biggest channels, at some of the biggest events – you don’t get much biggest than the Olympics and Strictly so I have had the pleasure of being in the centre of these national events, which brings an amazing profile and huge kudos. I’ve always dreamt of being a part of these, so I was like a kid in the candy store when they actually happened! With those experiences comes great stories, so I can share those when I am hosting a live event too!
You won Strictly Come Dancing in 2016, congratulations! What was this journey like for you? We’ve heard the training is very intense, how did you fit it all in with your work commitments too?
The team do warn you that it is going to be full on, from an outsiders perspective it does look pretty immersive, so I thought I knew what I was in for. But nothing can prepare you for how full on it is. Everything other than Strictly has to take a back seat, it is all encompassing – in the best way! At the time we were living in Manchester, so I wanted to split my time between London and Manchester, but after a while this became impossible. There were so many rehearsals, events, TV appearances, there’s It Takes Two, and of course the live show practise, it is really 24/7 - even when you are not conscious you are thinking about it, I was dreaming about the show.
"Even when I was so tired that a gust of wind could have blown me over, I still couldn’t wait to dance."
It is a whirlwind, but my attitude to the situation was that I was fortunate to achieve my dream and get a place, so I wanted to make the most of it. Luckily, my family were only supportive – so even when it gets tiring and tough, they helped me to keep pushing on, there wasn’t a single day I didn’t enjoy it. Even when I was so tired that a gust of wind could have blown me over, I still couldn’t wait to dance. This positive mental attitude was also what helped pushed me through and find my love for dancing. Through hard work, great coaching and a willingness to learn, I believe you can achieve anything, and knowing this is a huge self-esteem boost!
The show can get quite competitive, how did you deal with the pressure of it all?
The most difficult day of the week was Monday, because you will have just mastered a routine from the previous week, but on the Monday you need to forget it all and relearn everything from scratch. Most Mondays – and Joanne will vouch for this - I was clueless!
I looked like a rabbit in the headlights; I think her incredible coaching really helped me through. As a kid I wanted to be an athlete, but I realised it wasn’t going to happen, however, my experience in reporting and broadcasting elite sport has shown me what it takes to become the best in the business. I had this was this moment when Joanne was teaching me steps, but I just wasn’t getting it, so Joanne decided to park the routine and just focus on the one step for 30 minutes. This whole process got me a little bit emotional, as I knew I was learning from a world champion, who is taking on the mantra of David Beckham practising with his bag of balls after training was over, or Andy Murray continually trying his backhand until he got it perfect. Joanna was adopting their same attitude with a view to becoming to best, I thought I could do this all week, if this is what it is going to take to help me get to the top. It was the lesson that I learned from practising just that one step, over and over, that I put into every training session.
Ore was taking on the mantra of a world champion in his training process for Strictly
What is next for you?
That is what is exciting, there are a few broadcasting gigs coming up for me, and I am looking forward to being part of more big sporting events! We are back into another Olympic cycle so I want to get involved with that. Strictly opened me up to the world of performing, so we will see what guise it will take! I have a Strictly shaped hole to fill – so hopefully some dancing is on the horizon!
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