Interview: Heart breakfast presenters Ed and Rachel

Heart breakfast presenters Ed and Rachel talk love bites, licking landmarks and life drawing in the studio...

Interview: Heart breakfast presenters Ed and Rachel

Ed, Rachel and producer Steph Mayoh

Have you ever had a love bite Rachel? asks Ed. “What about you Lisa?”

“Erm, maybe once, not for about 10 years,” I reply. “Whatever happened to love bites anyway, why does no-one have them anymore?” Ed questions.

“Love bites are about as fashionable as your pocket hanky,” Rachel replies drily and the whole studio erupts into laughter.

Say hello, ladies and gentlemen, to Ed James and Rachel New, the duo behind the biggest commercial breakfast show in the West Midlands on Heart FM, and who the Express & Star has been invited to spend the morning with.

We’re talking about love bites, of course, because of Rachel’s scarf.

While the pair pose for pictures, Ed asks his co-presenter why she’s wearing her ‘snood’ – “Is it to hide your love bites?”

And as Ed defends his pocket square – “Everyone’s wearing them, those footballers we met were wearing them” and Rachel retorts, questioning whether Ed is going through a mid-life crisis, it is clear that this is a first-hand insight into the quick-witted banter between the pair that has made them such a hit with listeners.

Their banter and sharpness is evident, whether its the quick chats they fit in between songs or the chilled out  post-show meeting in the eighth-floor room in Brindleyplace.

Jokes bounce off one another and while the show operation is like a well-oiled machine, they clearly have fun while doing it. You only have to look at what the pair have got up to in the past year for proof of that.

They’ve bounced thousands of balls down buildings for listeners to win Michael Bublé tickets, they’ve given away a £250,000 house after planting 50 hidden keys in the West Midlands, while Rachel has licked 100 landmarks across the West Midlands. Yes really. Ed explains: “Rachel is very competitive. If you set Rachel a challenge, she will achieve it.”

So when the pair discussed the story of two men who had set a bet to lick 62 cathedrals and Rachel branded it ‘pathetic’, she would end up eating – well licking – her own words when she agreed to lick 100 landmarks around the region – the Billy Wright statue at Molineux, Wolverhampton Civic Hall, The Cube in Birmingham and  the Tin Man in Brownhills among them.

And then there was the time she had to paint a still life of a naked man while on air. Ed added: “Rachel knows a lot of stuff so we did this quiz where Rachel took on people on the phone and if she lost she had a forfeit and one day we did a naked guy.” 

And the finished article? “There was quite a lot of attention to detail,” quips Ed, while Rachel jokes she was ‘very generous’ in some areas. 

Seeing Ed and Rachel in action, it is as though the pair have been working together for decades, but in fact it’s just six years since they started fronting up the breakfast show together after the departure of Ed’s former co-presenter. Rachel auditioned and the rest is history.

“It just worked really well from day one,” added Ed. 

“We don’t spend a great deal of time together, but we get on really well and it’s really interesting because we are opposite, but I think that’s why it works. 

“We will always have the opposite view, that’s the way we approach everything. It means when we talk about things the audience will have either my view or Rachel’s.” A typical day is up at 4.30am and into work at 5.30am. “Five to six if you’re Ed,” quips Rachel.

They are then on air from 6am until 10am and following the show will start preparation for the next day. 

On top of this they may also carry out other work for the station, whether it be hosting the Locke premiere in Birmingham recently or running Race for Life. A gruelling job for anyone but the pair make it seem so effortless. Inside the studio they are relaxed and good humoured, while all the time conscious that if they run a second late, the transition between their show and the next will be affected.

A lot of pressure, right?

“We just turn up, play some fantastic songs and have a laugh,” says Ed. “The best part of the job is we have a laugh and we entertain other people, the show is at its best when we have a chat and people join in. 

“We work hard and think what will will work, but we are here to have a laugh and that’s the tone of the show.”

This year the station is nominated for Best Competition for The Heart House in the Radio Academy Award – ‘the Oscars of the radio world’. “It was absolutely amazing to change a life by offering a house, it was fantastic,” says Ed. 

By Lisa Wright

  • Tune in to Heart breakfast with Ed and Rachel weekdays from 6-10am 
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