Chris Stark - Boy Done Good
His interviews with A listers like Mila Kunis and Jennifer Aniston have propelled local boy, Chris Stark, from Scott Mills’ side kick on Radio 1 to a household name. But, as Kaye Holland discovers, he is still resolutely more Harrow than Hollywood
Much like his beloved Watford FC, Chris Stark has been making big strides in 2013. His chance encounter with Mila Kunis earlier this year (“I only found out that I was interviewing Mila about 10 minutes before I was put in front of her!”) which saw Stark chat to the star about Nandos, has spread like morning sunlight. To date the video has been viewed by 10 million people. Meanwhile Mila, herself, hailed it as “the best interview I’ve had.”
Chris added Robert Downey Jr to his CV - not bad for a boy from Pinner. But it was his recent interview with former Friends actress Jennifer Aniston - covering Prague strip clubs - that registered on everyone’s radar.
Nonetheless the 26 year old remains refreshing untouched by his new found fame, and is still getting used to racking up the column inches. “The interviews were for a radio show and I knew they would be quite funny on radio, but I didn’t expect the videos to do so well,” Chris recalls in disbelief.
After half an hour in Chris’ company, it’s easy to see why the aforementioned A listers weren’t immune to his charms. There’s something of Jamie Oliver - the everyman charm and affability - about him. He’s a genuinely nice, normal bloke, who asks honest questions.
That said, like marmite, you either love or hate his interviewing style, with critics claiming that that his ‘awkward’ act is just that: an act. “In a way I wish it was an act,” confesses Chris “because then it would justify the way I am in the videos. But it’s not an act: anyone who sits in front of Jennifer Aniston or Mila Kunis is going to be nervous. Plus the whole situation - you’re sat in a room in a posh hotel - is nerve wracking. It’s not a natural environment for me.”
Who was Chris’s favourite interviewee? “It’s ridiculous that you’re even asking me who’s my favourite out of Jennifer Aniston, Mila Kunis and Robert Downey Jr,” he laughs. “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to meet any of them. But probably Mila Kunis – she was very down to earth. I look back on that interview and it feels like a weird dream. It was afterwards that I was like: did we really talk about Nandos?”
When he’s not interviewing celebs, Chris works on the Scott Mills show on Radio 1. “I’m Scott’s sidekick,” he says. “I’ll do whatever Scott wants me to do for his amusement – or that of the public. I’ve always been a massive fan of Scott Mills and it’s mental that I am now working on his show, which was my goal growing up.”
That’s no so unusual. Along with notions of marrying Demi Lovato or One Direction, most teens indulge fantasies about working as a presenter but it says something about Chris, that he made it happen.
He demonstrated his determination by “getting involved in hospital radio as soon as I turned 16. I joined Radio Northwick Park, which is a very professional set up. It’s not dissimilar to a national radio station in that behind the microphone, there is still just one person doing a show.”
“My time at Northwick Park made me want to work in radio even more, so while at uni [as a side project Chris acquired a degree in politics] I started doing as much work experience as I could. Eventually I got offered an internship at 6 Music, which led to my role at Radio 1.”
When he’s not working at Radio 1, watching his beloved Watford FC ranks high on Chris’ priorities. Soccer is serious business to Chris: he persuaded Kunis to come to Vicarage Road and gifted Aniston and Downey Jr with their own personalised Hornets strips. As for this season, Chris is confident “Watford will do brilliantly. We have great backers and a classy manager in Zola.”
Should Watford win promotion, will Chris be celebrating with a few ‘lad bombs’? (Stark famously invited Mila to join him and friends for ‘lad bombs’ in the pub). “My mates up and I came up with the name ‘lad bombs’ on a night out,” he reveals “but lad bombs [a Jägermeister shot dropped into a double vodka and Red Bull] have been around for ages. I can’t recommend them. They’re horrible – although they have led to some amazing nights.”
Regardless of whether Watford reach the Premiership, Chris has plenty to smile about with his star firmly in ascendancy, but says he won’t be forgetting his Pinner roots. “My family are in Pinner and it’s home. What I love about Pinner is that it’s hardly changed. I still think that the high street is the nicest road in the world.”