Rylan Clark-Neal: ‘I’m probably informing people more than journos do’

Ahead of being announced as host for Channel 4's Alternative Election Night, Rylan sat down with The Big Issue to talk about his big issues

He sings, he dances, he compères. And now, on his way to being a trusted voice on the biggest political saga of our generation, Ryan Clark-Neal is is explaining why he has no time for serious political journalists who scoff at him.

Earlier this year, the X Factor novelty act-turned-presenter extraordinaire felt some pushback from “snobs” on Twitter after he weighed in on Brexit. He hasn’t shied away from the subject since, and feels “no pressure to fit in a box others want to put [him] in”. The incident marked a shift in his public perception.

How does he feel about it now, months on?

“I love it, actually,” he tells The Big Issue. “Politics is something I’ve been interested in for a long time. More now than ever because of Brexit. So when I put a tweet out that went a little bit viral, there were a few snobby-arsed comments from a few snobby-arsed people who were like, what the fuck do you know?

“I decided to call them out on it thinking actually, you’re a fucking idiot, because I was a 30-year-old man who’s not in politics and I’m the sort of person you should be tapping into. With all due respect, the audience that I’ve got might not necessarily understand Brexit or what’s going on in Parliament,” the Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two host continues. 

“When I explain stuff on Twitter in layman’s terms people message me and go ‘Thanks for doing that, I didn’t really understand what WTO meant or what the Northern Irish backstop involved’. You can take the piss out of me all you want, but I’m probably informing the people who follow me more than you’re informing people.” Earlier this week it was announced that Clark-Neal would present Channel 4’s Alternative Election Night, which would have guests like politicians Tom Watson and Amber Rudd.

The whole country has become more politicised out of necessity, he reckons, and it’s a good thing. But he is steadfast in his commitment to keeping tight-lipped about his own party preferences in the general election. 

“I think that’s quite important for someone of my social platform. It means I can talk to people in a rounded way that probably does more good than it would if I told people how to vote. People need to make up their own minds. I’m more than happy to stick up for what I think is right but I’m not going to sit there and tell people what to do. I don’t think that’s my platform. I use it to make sure everyone is as informed as they possibly can be without necessarily having to take extra time out of their busy lives to dive into the nitty gritty of it.”

This is an excerpt of an interview in this week’s Big Issue magazine. Pick up a copy from your local vendor or buy it from the Big Issue Shop.