Interview with television presenter and journalist Matt Barbet

Matt Barbet presents 5 News Tonight weekdays at 6.30pm on Channel 5. Here Matt shares a few lifestyle things with us.

Matt Barbet lo-res

How nervous do you get before a live broadcast? Do you have a set routine before you go on air?

I don’t get nervous, really, which is a benefit of doing it for a long time and enjoying what I do – but the countdown from 10 in my ear still focuses the mind! I don’t have a hard-and-fast routine before going on-air, but in no particular order, it involves double-checking the scripts and questions, getting a suit and tie on, having make-up, getting wired up with a microphone and talkback unit (so I can hear the gallery and they can hear me) and then rehearsing a few things.

What advice would you give to school children that want to be on television?

Television now is a lot different to what it was when I was at school and imagining a possible career on-screen. Today it is just as much of a viable ambition to want to be a YouTuber or blogger, and while it is even more competitive to get into the public eye, more affordable, connected technology makes it easier to get started on your own. It does interest me, though, that young people who’ve made big names for themselves online still find “old media” like TV or magazines alluring.

What 5 things would you do if you wanted to have the best day ever?

My wife and two daughters would be involved, of course, as would cycling which is what I’m most passionate about. The weather would be sunny, but not too hot, and the views would be spectacular, so we’d perhaps be in Yosemite National Park in the US, which has taken my breath away more than anywhere else. There would be good music too, so I suppose after riding to the top of a peak on a glorious day where my loved ones are waiting for me, The Beatles will be playing having reformed for a special one-off, roof-of-the-Apple-Building type concert…!

Do you find social media a hindrance or a help to your career? Do you ever have to remind yourself to switch off from being online?

Yes, to all of those things. It’s a fantastic tool, and when things happen in the World, it can be the first place you’ll hear about them. For example, during the attacks in Paris, citizen journalists were tweeting and streaming the chaos of what was happening. I do try to limit my exposure to it all, but I’m not particularly successful at that. I don’t like that feeling of FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.

What, do you find, is the most frustrating thing about being on television?

I suppose people’s preconceptions about what journalists or presenters on television are like. It’s my job, firstly, and so I’m not like I appear on screen all the time. I like using London buses, for example, and people are often amazed to hear that because they think if I’m on TV, I get driven everywhere and don’t do the things everyone else does!

Out of everything you have done so far what do you consider to be your highlight?

Too many to list really – but it’s opened the doors to meeting amazing people and witnessing big events. Being embedded in Afghanistan and covering the Haiti earthquake will always stay with me. Standing behind the goal when England beat Germany 5-1 in Munich way back in 2001, and meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace (where Prince Phillip also gave me a bit of a telling off!) are up there too.

How do you balance home life with your work life?

It’s a juggle, like it is for most people with careers. I’ve worked all sorts of strange hours over the years, and been sent to loads of places, but at the moment, I’m in the newsroom and studio in the afternoon and evening, so I’m lucky to see my two girls in the morning and take them to school. Now they’re getting older (4 & 6) they’ll quite often be awake when I get back. It’s fortunate, as a lot of my friends work 12 hour days every day and really only see their children at weekends – when they’re exhausted!

You ran the marathon earlier in the year! What are your training tips?

Variety. I first tackled the London Marathon in 2010, and didn’t have much of a focus in training, other than pile on the miles. I think the repetitiveness and lack of recovery caused me injury. This year, I ran three times a week, at different intensities and for varying distances, and also cycled twice a week. The two are mutually beneficial, but don’t stress the same muscles, and so it meant I ran it 49 minutes quicker than before.

Which celebrity in the public eye do you admire the most?

As noted before, I’m a Beatles fan, so I’d have to say Sir Paul McCartney, as he’s a living musical genius.

What is your go to spot in London?

The parks, all the parks. Clissold, Regents and Richmond are where I spend a lot of time. London’s greenery is one of its very best aspects.

Ch5 news presenter, Matt Barbet, is an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust and is competing in the Palace to Palace cycling challenge on 2nd October to raise vital funds for the charity @MattBarbet