By Anna Lewis Acting Associate Editor on Friday, 12 September 2014 at 14:55
Greg James is standing in a room full of people, wearing just a shirt, jacket, socks and boxer shorts, and it’s hard not to notice what shapely legs he’s got. But then, we’ve seen those bad boys before. A few weeks ago he stripped totally naked to celebrate completing the BT Red Nose Challenge: Hell And High Water, which involved Greg and fellow celebs Dara O Briain, Mel C, Jack Dee, triple jumper Phillips Idowu and Chelsee Healey kayaking down the famous Zambezi river Africa in aid of Comic Relief and raised £570,000.
The 27-year-old presenter first came to our attention when he joined Radio 1 back in 2007 and last year he was promoted to the coveted drive-time slot. He also used to date a certain Ellie Goulding – you might have heard of her – for 18 months, before the pair split at the end of 2011. And by the looks of the writings of his 788,000 Twitter followers – sample tweet “@gregjames is so f***ing hot omggg” – there’s a legion of ladies waiting to take her place.
At our shoot, like a good sport, Greg’s agreed to pose photocopying his bum, which means he’ll be spending even more time with his trousers down. No complaints here. But he’s not just a piece of meat, y’know. He’s a sensitive type with no ego, lots of enthusiasm and a loud laugh. We’ve got tons of things we want to ask him about, from 1D to his love life (prepare yourself ladies, he’s got a new girlfriend). But first, back to his derrière…
So, let’s start with the serious, high-brow questions. How many times have you got your bum out before?
[Thinks seriously.] Umm… A few times before, but never for money. Does that make me a lady of the night? Am I some kind of prostitute now?
Pretty much, but at least it’s for a good cause. Is exposing yourself a bit of a party trick?
I don’t think I’ve got a good body to show off, but I’m not unhappy about getting it out. Whatever you’ve got, you’ve got to flaunt it. The Radio 1 listeners like to see us look stupid and we raised lots of money, so I was totally fine about getting naked.
Let’s talk Comic Relief. How was your Hell And High Water experience?
It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It was so hot and we were rowing for eight hours a day and none of us knew what to expect. It was so much worse than I thought it would be.
How did you get on with the other celebs?
Really well, but we had to. We had no choice! We had to work as a team. I’d never met Dara O Briain, Jack Dee or Mel C before but we all got on brilliantly, genuinely. We had a lot of time to get to know each other. We all bickered in the way you do when you’re stuck in a boat with people for eight hours a day, but there were no proper fallouts.
How was it being with Chelsee Healey 24 hours a day?
I’d actually met her before when she’d been on my radio show and she was an absolute delight. She’s hilarious, and she was the saving grace of everybody. When we were all grumpy, sunburnt or tired she would come up with a cracker.
She once turned to me and said, “Greggo, do you reckon there are Loch Ness Monsters in the Zambezi?” She was also convinced that a monkey was going to steal her suitcase because it was brightly coloured. I did explain to her that no monkey was ever going to want to go on holiday with her suitcase, but she wasn’t having any of it.
How was your hygiene during the challenge?
Terrible, I used the classic festival wet-wipe trick. I washed my hair once in the river the whole time we were there, and we went to the toilet in holes. We stank. Seriously, it was disgusting. I would wake up in the morning and think, “What’s that awful smell? Oh, it’s me.”
Did you have to pee in front of each other?
Yes, I’ve seen Jack Dee’s arse. I saw all sorts. [Pauses.] I don’t think I’ve ever felt less attractive and sexual than I did when I was out there.
Talking of which, who was the last person who saw you naked before you went away?
[Shyly] Er, my girlfriend would have done.
Ooh, who’s your lady?
[Grins.] She’s called Jess and she’s not famous. We’ve been together for about five months. I wasn’t looking for anyone when she came along, it just happened. We’re taking it slowly, but it’s going really well.
How did you meet?
We met at a pre-Olympics party. She had no idea I was interested in her, but after we’d been chatting for a while I asked her if she fancied going for a drink the following week. I’d been quite happy being single, but there she was.
Are you any good at chatting girls up?
No, I don’t think I’m very good at all. I talk a lot and my job is a great conversation starter, so that’s always handy, but I’m quite awkward and embarrassed and a bit shy when I first meet people. But if a girl thinks that’s endearing, then she’s the one for me. I like people who aren’t put off by my weirdness.
Always a bonus. Is it true that Dragons’ Den star Hilary Devey owns a percentage of you?
Yes. She was on the radio show and we did a Dragons’ Den deal, so she’s now my stepmum. I think she owns 70 per cent of me. I’m not sure if it’s legally binding, but I love her very much. My real mum was a bit upset when she heard, though.
Which bits of you does she own? She can’t lay claim to your bum, surely? That belongs to the public now…
I’m not sure, I should probably check all of that. I’ve dressed up as her loads of times and I do her voice and everything. She’s an amazing woman. I’ve heard she’s newly single now…
Get in there! Have you got any other surprising mates?
I go to the football with Jack Whitehall to see Arsenal play quite a lot, and I’m friends with Russell Kane [his co-presenter on BBC3’s Unzipped]. I also had an amazing weekend in Milan with Tinie Tempah at a fashion show and we’ve stayed in touch.
Get you. You seem very, very nice. Have you got a secret dark side?
I don’t think I’ve got a really bad side.
Oh, come on, what’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Have you ever been taken home in a police car, for instance?
No, no police, thankfully. [Thinks for ages.] I did wake up with a Boris rental bike in my bedroom once after a drunken night out. I returned it straight away.
That’s crap. We want something really bad…
I threw a watermelon from my bedroom window onto the street when my friend was coming to visit once, and it just missed him.
OK, that’ll do for now. Have you had any nightmare interviewees on your show? I
had a weird interview with the cast of Kick-Ass. I jokingly told Aaron Taylor-Johnson that Fearne Cotton fancied him and he got a bit funny about it. He took it all very seriously. I’m generally nice to people, so it’s not usually a problem. I really don’t think you need to be an a**ehole to be funny or a good interviewer.
Do you ever get narked off that Grimmy gets all of the One Direction interviews because he’s friends with Harry?
That’s fair enough, because he and Harry are mates. Louis [Tomlinson] and I did share a moment when he came on the show and we played the piano together. He played Mr Brightside by The Killers and I sang along. He’s a very talented pianist. [Smiles.] I’ll win them over.
Grimmy’s also got 200,000 more Twitter followers than you. Are you secretly furious?
Ha! No, I think I’d need to get a life if I was. To be fair, if Harry Styles tweets you, you’ll get more followers very quickly. I need to get him to do that more. But Grimmy’s a very funny man generally, so I’m sure that’s why people follow him.
While we’re on the subject of Twitter, if you let us tweet from your account we’ll give £20 to Comic Relief. What are you going to tweet?
Are you going to screw me over?
Give us your phone and we’ll show you… [Greg logs in to Twitter and then reluctantly passes his phone over, at which point we write, “I’ve got a nice a**e.”] Oh my God. Oh my God!
Can we tweet it?
[Shouting] No! You can’t put that. Why would you put that? I’ve got a nice a**e? No!
But it’s for charity!
[Puts his hands over his face.] Only if you give £100 to Comic Relief. [heat nods and presses “tweet”.]
Oh God. Everyone’s going to think I wrote it. Can I delete it?
You can, but it’s already out there…
Oh God, people will think I’m such an idiot. You had better pay up!*
*We did, of course!
Watch Greg on Comic Relief: Through Hell And High Water, Thursday 14 March, 8pm, BBC1