Jordan North: 'Other kids were out drinking – I was watching the Vicar of Dibley'

The Radio 1 DJ and I’m a Celebrity runner up on a childhood spent watching sitcoms with his mum, from the Dawn French classic to The Royle Family and Keeping Up Appearances

I’ve always been obsessed with TV and radio. I used to record loads of different programmes when I was growing up. While most kids were out playing football, I’d be reading the Radio Times and circling what I was going to watch that week with a Biro. I remember being 10 or 11 and watching A Touch of Frost on a Friday night with my family in Burnley, Lancashire, eating a bag of M&Ms. It’s such an underrated British detective drama, and David Jason is brilliant in it. There are loads of actors who featured in it who are big names now, too – I watched one recently and Damian Lewis was in it. I still watch that detective drama slot on ITV on a Friday – Vera at 8, then when that’s finished I switch over to Gogglebox.

With my mum, Wendy, most of the programmes we watched were reruns of old comedies. I loved Keeping Up Appearances – Hyacinth Bucket is one of the great British comedy characters, and it is just a joy to watch. I think what everybody loves about it is that we all know someone who’s a bit of a Hyacinth, and it’s a reflection of Britain now and then. I couldn’t imagine anybody else in that role but Patricia Routledge – her delivery’s great but she’s also very slapstick, like when she falls off the boat while “luxury yachting”.

Royle Family
Craig Cash and Caroline Aherne on the sofa in The Royle Family. Photograph: ITV/REX/Shutterstock

I grew up watching Victoria Wood, too, whom I absolutely adore. We would watch Dinnerladies – the dialogue is so clever and the comic timing is spot-on. The word “genius” is overused but I think she was. I thought the same about Caroline Aherne. I could go on about The Royle Family till the cows come home. I remember watching the 2006 special, The Queen of Sheba, with my family and bawling my eyes out. It was so good that we bought it on DVD and watched it again a week later. There’s a scene where Barbara is doing Nan’s hair – it’s just the most beautifully written and acted scene, it gives me goosebumps. That is a proper representation of a northern working-class family. It’s just so relatable, with those long pauses while you’re watching TV – that’s just what it’s like.

Jordan North
Jordan North with his family. Photograph: courtesy Jordan North

We also watched The Vicar of Dibley. I have such good memories of my mum laughing at it, and even now I go back and watch the YouTube clips of Geraldine jumping into that puddle, and the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” bit. If someone came to this country for the first time and you had to explain a good old-fashioned British sitcom to them, you would put The Vicar of Dibley on. It’s got all of these eccentric characters, but it was also ahead of its time with its representation of the sexism in the parish towards a female vicar.

I’ve never really noticed, but a lot of the series I loved had these strong female characters, which might be my mum’s input. They were always guaranteed to make her laugh. When most lads were out on a Friday night drinking cheap bottles of vodka and listening to N-Dubz on their mobile phones, I was in with her, which is how my TV obsession began. TV is the one thing I missed the most when I was on I’m a Celebrity – apart from Guinness and Burnley FC of course.

Jordan North’s podcast Help I Sexted My Boss is out now and available on all platforms


As told to Hannah J Davies

The GuardianTramp

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