NED DYLAN MEETS RICK EDWARDS: MIXING POP AND POLITICS
Ned Dylan got to sit on the sofa with TV's Rick Edwards to talk Music, Politics and more....
This time 8 years ago, Edwards was sitting on the T4 sofa next to Alexa Chung. These days he’s swapped pop for politics, and Alexa for me. Penning his very own book ‘None of the Above’ and becoming young people’s answer to David Dimbledy (but with better looks!).
TV Stars – often seen as nothing more than mere distractions in our culture. Lately though, celebrities and politics seem to be a match made in heaven - “Paloma [Faith] having Owen [Jones] open for her at her gigs is very novel and exciting.” says Rick Edwards, the latest celeb to speak out about politics - “There will be a lot of people at Paloma’s gigs who usually don’t get to hear Owen speak about the issues that are important to him. It’s about bringing it to that wider audience. She’s very politically engaged, not that many musicians are these days.”
“It feels removed.” Rick tells me, talking of why young people don’t vote. “You see PMQs on the TV and you think how does this relate to me? It’s literally got nothing to do with me! When David Cameron says he likes The Smiths, you struggle to believe it almost. Morrissey famously hated it!” Edwards originally wrote the book as a point of information. “No-one else was writing that book”, he explains, “You might not expect the guy from Tool Academy to write a book about politics but that might mean it gets read by a different audience.”
After his weekly live-debate politics spot Free Speech (Tuesdays, 8PM, BBC Three), Edwards has become the face of the BBC’s flagship youth politics show. Political telly always divides opinions; Rick should know. Dubbed as ‘Benefits Porn’ by its critics and ‘invaluable insight’ by shocked viewers glued to their screens, Benefits Street has been one of the most controversial fly-on-the-wall documentaries of recent times.
“It feels as if there aren’t enough voices saying, hold on a minute, these cases you’re looking at, on these TV shows are exceptions. The majority of people claiming benefits, need them. There is a whole argument about whether our welfare state system is functioning properly. But I think people perpetuating this idea of benefit scroungers, isn’t very healthy.”
“I can’t say that I’m not disappointed.” Says Rick, when I mention David Cameron, not agreeing to do Leaders Live or Free Speech. “We’ve already had four of the main party leaders on [this series], so it would be nice to complete the set.” Rick muses, speaking about politicians as if they’re collectable McDonalds happy meal toys.
Before dabbling in the murky world of politics, Edwards had a regular slot on XFM. “I do [miss it] actually.” Edwards tells me, almost becoming a little sentimental. “The best part was having a little pigeon hole and every time you’d come in, it would just be full of CD’s. That was the best thing – I got to listen to a lot music. I’d love to do radio again”, I suggest we do a double-act show to which Edwards replies – “this feels like a strong pilot.”
“I used to be a festival man more than I am now.” Says Rick, probably noticing the title of the site. “The last time I went to a festival properly was about three years ago. I went to Reading which I do like. I’ve just done a day here and a day there [since then], which isn’t really proper festival going. My days of festival camping are over.”
Festival lightweight? Undeniable TV heavyweight. I mention Rick’s new ITV pilot Safe Word and he automatically bursts out laughing. “I know I’m biased but it was really funny!” He tells me, head in hands. “It’s a comedy, celebrity based panel show, where you have two celebrities on one side of me and comedians on the other. If the celebrity wants it [the teasing] to stop, they have to use their safe word.”
However BBC Three’s future, a place where Edwards often presents, is uncertain. Rick breaks impartial interview character and becomes very passionate when I mention BBC Three’s unclear future.
“I think it [BBC Three] will definitely leave a big absence. There are less and less places that are just geared towards young people. Where do you bring through that talent? Be it presenters, writers or comedians. Those outlets are disappearing and I think it’s a real shame. It’s sad. I think it says something that T4 was replaced by a magazine cooking show.”
Rick also goes onto mention the Revolution Will Be Televised, the satirical hit, poking fun at those in charge. BBC Three also gave their little bit of online DIY TV Culture a voice. RWBT star Heydon Prowse called the channel ‘a valuable voice of youth.’
“BBC Three is so good because people will be watching Snog, Marry, Avoid and then something they wouldn’t have originally sought after will come on. Something like the Revolution Will Be Televised or a doc that Stacey Dooley’s done or Free Speech. You have to be realistic, [if you go online] they are less likely to seek those shows out. Would Heydon and Jolyon found the platform they have, without BBC Three being a TV channel? I don’t know.”
When I ask Rick what’s next for him, he says “a lie down.” And a lie down well deserved.
BBC Three might be coming off our screens, but Edwards won’t be for a long time yet.
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