NOCTIS COVER: Vick Hope | Game Changers Issue

Cover story originally published in print for the 2023 Noctis XXII Game Changers issue. Shop here.

2022 was a monumental year for the multi-talented, radio and television personality, Vick Hope. She hosted her very own breakfast TV show on ITV, was the only presenter at Radio 1 to feature on the platform three times a week, and hosted the Women’s Prize For Fiction podcast, ‘Bookshelfie’. Spearheaded by her naturally warm and witty personality, Hope has the ability to connect with anyone and she’s consistently proved herself to be one of the most sought after and loveable personalities in the entertainment industry. However, she’s also more than that, she’s an acclaimed children’s author, writing two novels to date, an ambassador for Amnesty International and a long-time supporter of refugee charities. In what is a truly extensive career to date, Hope has dedicated herself to helping people and adding a touch of joy to their lives in the process.

The basis on which Hope discovered a career in broadcasting came from her love of languages. Growing up in Newcastle with an English father and a Nigerian mother, Hope was surrounded by an array of cultures that filled her with a sense of wonder. Her mother was a key factor in this as she spoke Igbo, a Nigerian tribal language that’s extremely rare in the Western world. With a passion for travelling, she realised the power of speaking to people in their native tongue, and threw herself into learning as much as she could. Such determination would lead her to Cambridge University where she studied modern languages. “I kinda made it my mission. My school didn’t actually do Spanish and I was fascinated by it, it sounded beautiful from little bits I’d picked up.” Hope proclaims, “I had to take myself to adult education classes at the local nightclass centre to get an A level in order to get into uni. I thought if I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with my education, at least if I have languages. It lends itself so well to storytelling and communication which is what I use day to day as a broadcaster,”

Hope was a natural at learning languages and became fluent in French, Spanish, and Portuguese. During her time at university she set on becoming a journalist, after taking inspiration from renowned war correspondent Kate Adie’s autobiography, The Kindness Of Strangers. As required on the course she was studying, Hope had to undertake a year abroad and travelled to South America for an internship writing at the Argentina Independent. The publication covered politics, current affairs, as well as arts and culture, which gave her the opportunity to find an area in which she could specialise. In a bizarre twist of fate, Hope found herself with the opportunity to work for MTV, which gave her a totally different viewpoint on journalism and the mediums available at hand. “It was just by chance I met some guys from MTV who needed a presenter. It was MTV US and they were filming in Argentina because of some lack of health and safety.” Hope says laughing, “They needed us to do lots of dangerous things and it was cheaper as well and they needed someone who speaks English so I gave it a go. It was just reporting but words coming out of your mouth instead of out of your pen, and I love chatting so thought yeah let’s give this a go and just pursued that from there.” It felt like a road in which Hope manifested for herself. It was, after all, her own determination to learn Spanish outside of school that set her on this journey, whilst her love for travelling saw her take off to the other side of the world when she could so easily have played it safe and stayed in Europe.

The connections she made were invaluable and upon her return to the UK, Hope found herself interning at MTV. In this role she learnt everything from filming, using the camera, editing, script writing, and presenting. Hope was taking every opportunity possible and soon racked up a CV that included MTV news. ITV2, Channel 5, Channel 4, as well as Yahoo and AOL. It was incredibly impressive for a recent graduate and it was no wonder things began to move so fast. Hope eventually found herself at the BBC as they were running an initiative to get more local female voices on regional radio stations. After spending many years on TV at that point, it felt like a natural step and with a great knowledge of music and a close connection to youth culture, it was a role that suited her perfectly.

Starting out on BBC radio Cambridgeshire, Hope learnt the ropes during the 5am Sunday morning graveyard shift. Known for its lack of listeners at that time of the morning, the slot allowed Hope to make mistakes and learn from them, but taking on the slot in the first place came with its challenges, as she explains: “There were no trains that early in the morning, so I’d go on the Saturday night and sleep on the floor at the BBC and then get up at 4am and do this show.” It was this remarkable determination and work ethic that after just a few years fronting the breakfast show on Capital FM saw Hope take the reins on Radio 1. It was a dream come true, after all the station had a huge cultural impact on the presenter and now she had the power to positively impact young adults who were going through a similar stage in life as she had once experienced. “That’s the station I grew up listening to, it’s the station I grew up in my bedroom like writing down what was in the chart.” The presenter explains, “When I was little and listening to what was then Sunday surgery and feeling so much less alone because people were talking about things I was going through and I found solace in that and I didn’t realise anyone else was going through it and they tackled all these issues.”

Her first port of call was a meeting with Aled, the head honcho at Radio 1. Hope was heavily invested in positively impacting people, and making the full use of the power radio holds. She felt strongly about hosting the show Sunday Surgery, which now operates under the name Life Hacks – a show that addresses social and economic issues affecting young people which offers a space for those struggling to call in and talk. Hope took on the show alongside Katie Thistleton in September 2020 at what was a tumultuous time. However, Hope’s naturally approachable demeanour alongside her keen listening skills made the show an instant success. “I was so happy because it was a show that meant a lot to me. Especially at the time, at which young people had been through a lot.” The presenter proclaims, “Their futures were hanging in the balance, their education had been completely disrupted, they hadn’t had their exams, the job market was getting more and more saturated with fewer and fewer opportunities, their mental health was under a lot of stress and that’s all the stuff that we were talking about on the show.”

However, it isn’t a show that comes easy, with some issues coming to light that can hit home hard, and Hope has often found herself in situations where it can get emotionally overwhelming. The toughest situation came a couple of weeks into the show, during suicide prevention week when a caller named Chloe spoke about her attempted suicide and explained that it was her football coach who tried to help her and pointed her in the direction of support. Hope asked her how she felt now, in which she replied saying she felt amazing, and she never imagined there would be light at the end of the tunnel. It was a moment that saw Hope break down as just a few weeks prior the presenter had lost a close friend to suicide and she was left wondering how the situation could have been different had he heard the joy in Chloe’s voice now that she’d gotten through it and had he received the care required. It was a moment that displayed just how personal and completely humane radio can be. “I’ve cried on that show several times.” Hope states, “It’s therapeutic in a way that we get to express and talk about how we feel and saying it’s better out than in. If you’re going through something you never know who else might be and if they’ve gotten through it then there’s solace in that fact because you can get through it too.”

For over a year now, Hope has also been hosting the Radio 1 drivetime slot alongside Jordan North, a programme that Nick Grimshaw had made his own for three years prior. It’s the primetime slot on the station which catches drivers and commuters on their way home from work throughout the week. Rounding out her three weekly slots on Radio 1 sees Hope delve into the week’s most popular anthems on ‘The Official Chart: First Look’. Being on air so often is no easy task but Hope has proven herself to be a broadcasting powerhouse with a personality that listeners can connect with. Throughout her time at the station she’s learnt a great deal and sees the platform as an essential tool in impacting the lives of millions every day. “I know the BBC comes under criticism and right now there’s a lot of conversations around it, but I truly believe what Radio 1 do is public service broadcasting.” The presenter exclaims, “I’m incredibly proud to work for them because they serve young people. Every meeting that we go into the focus is on how we can best serve 16-24 year olds.”

Over the course of eight Sundays across June and July last year, Hope presented her own TV show on ITV titled, ‘Vick Hope’s Breakfast Show’. It was a monumental moment in the broadcaster’s career which saw her take creative control and fill the 60 minute segment with her own passions that she was keen to share with viewers. Hope brought an array of guests onto the show, including the likes of Aitch, Kate Nash and award winning authors such as David Nicholls. The show was designed to give time to delve into their personalities avoiding a surface level chat that included a few pre-negotiated questions. Hope focussed on her love of literature and included a book section where a different author each week would bring in an extensive back catalogue of novels readers could delve into. Whilst a corner of Hope saw guests bringing things that brought them joy or hope or that made them smile. “I think it was probably my favourite thing to do so far. It was really lovely programming.” Hope gleefully proclaims, “I came away from it every week just beaming, it was just positive. Sometimes we can feel like TV is like trying to get a scoop, or a bit sensational, manipulating people, and this show was just none of that.”

Alongside languages, literature has had a huge impact on Hope’s life. A self-confessed book-worm from an early age, she found herself enthralled by stories and the wonderful journey a novel could take you on. Citing Malorie Blackman and her notorious Noughts & Crosses series offered endless inspiration. After studying at University, Hope fell out of love with reading for a while, equating it with the pressure of work. However in recent years she’s felt rejuvenated and she’s been lost without it, as Hope explains: “You remember that you’re allowed to love it, it’s been my solace, my restbite and sanctuary.” Having experienced first hand the wonders literature can have on a child, Hope has become determined to share stories with children that are in difficult positions, particularly those coming from refugee families. Hope volunteers at a refugee project in East London where she works first hand with children from Asylum seeking families, giving her the opportunity to learn about the challenges they face, and how she can help them. “I think it’s really important that kids have that escape, they deserve to be nourished through books. Every child should have access to books which is something very close to my heart.” Hope states, “I know how important it is for kids to feel validated by the stories, knowing how many stories are out there and that their story might be worth telling too.”

Such a passion also inspired her to co-write her own children’s novel with Roman Kemp. The duo have two books to their name now, Listen Up: Rule The Airwaves, Rule The School and Shout Out: Use Your Voice, Save The Day. Both stories take influence from the writer’s backgrounds, telling the tale of kids in their school, who have radio shows and a student paper in which they tell the stories of the school through these mediums. It was written with the intention of opening the idea of a career or hobby they might not have ever thought about prior. “Hopefully it’s a vehicle for which kids can get into broadcasting themselves. It’s about knowing you’re never too small to make a difference.”

As Hope’s career has developed, her work in literature has become more extensive and throughout 2022 she hosted the prestigious Women’s Prize For Fiction Podcast. It was the perfect role for Hope which enabled her to mix her love for artform alongside her many years of broadcasting experience. Titled ‘Book Shelfie’, Hope welcomed a star studded guestlist that included the likes of Gabby Logan, Adjoa Andoh, and Aisling Bea. It’s popularity soared and Hope even took to Latitude and Wilderness festival to do live Q&A’s which enabled the audience to get involved, ask questions and grow their own reading lists. The series not only highlights award winning female talent but it also offers the chance for listeners to learn from them and delve deep into their early influences. “We’ve had some incredible guests!” The presenter exclaims, “They bring me five books that have shaped them and we tell the story of their lives. I get to know them through the books that mean the most to them.”

Even with her fame growing year on year, Hope has never forgotten her roots and her drive to use her platform for positive change has remained constant. Alongside her work refugee charities, she’s also worked closely with Choose Love and is an ambassador for Amnesty International, an organisation she’s worked with since she was 16. Then inspired to speak out against injustices against the world thanks to videos she was shown in her Religious studies classes at school. Hope recalls seeing protesters being detained, tortured and even killed for simply standing up for what they believed in. It hit her hard and left a long-term impact on how she thinks, as she explains: “I think when you’re a kid your moral compass is purer, it’s more finely tuned because you’re not conditioned by knowing you have to get by and accepting things.” Hope also had a family connection to such themes and although she wouldn’t call herself a refugee, her Mother also left Nigeria after the Biafran war when she was just 11 years old, and came to England without any prior understanding of the language. With the world becoming a harder place to escape war, Hope understands now more than ever how important these organisations are.

Now 14 years into her career in broadcasting , Hope finds herself at the top of her game and one of the most in demand people in the entertainment industry. With accolades such as appearing on Strictly Come Dancing, and hosting I’m A Celebrity… The Daily Drop, Hope has reached millions on screens and through our speakers and has become a household name in the UK. It might appear as if this success came instantly but as Hope jokingly declares, “People don’t realise how many floors you’ve slept on.” This was most apparent when she was starting off her career and living in the North-East of England when so much of the industry was in the capital. Not only that, but many jobs starting out didn’t pay what was required to pay rent, making for many years of working multiple jobs trying to get by. With signs showing that things might be changing and with industries diversifying the locations in which they operate, Hope remains hopeful for those living in the North, however she sees a growing number of challenges for young adults trying to get into the industry with so many being priced out. “It’s not easy if you’re not from London or the South or you don’t come from a family with money.” She declares, “I was so lucky to do the MTV internship which was a paid internship where I was trained. That internship doesn’t exist anymore and I don’t know how many do.”

For young adults looking to get into the broadcasting industry, there are a few better role models to look at than Vick Hope. Her career to date has been led by a sense of determination which started all the way back at school when she decided to go out of her way to study Spanish after hours. Had she not been fuelled by that passion then, it’s hard to see how she’d be where she is today. It’s a journey that proves that following your gut can lead to the best possible outcome and her jump into the unknown in Argentina proved exactly that. But beyond all, her unflappable dedication to humanity via her charitable work as well as the topics she brings to light on Life hacks – particularly during a mental health crisis – is why, we at Noctis, view Vick Hope as a game changer in 2023 and beyond.

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Words: Jake Wright
Photographer: Otto Masters
Stylist: Anastasia Busch
Makeup: Abbie May
Hair: Michelle Sultan
Set Design: Anastasya Petersone
Nails: Karen Tatiana
Photography Assistant: Conor Kennedy
Set Design Assistant: Lulu Vicedomini
Stylist Assistants: Lily Hobman and Elix Toci
Editor in Chief and Production: Genea Bailey
Magazine Design: Sophie Meeson