Fearne Cotton

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Fearne Cotton: I'd have gone for Prince William if I was single

By JON WILDE – More by this author » Last updated at 20:08pm on 11th August 2007

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Ferne Cotton's career has become increasingly diverse, including her own show on Radio 1 and presenting TV programmes like Love Island and The Xtra Factor.

Most recently, she was chosen to interview Princes William and Harry ahead of the Concert For Diana, leading to reports that the former took a firm fancy to her.

If true, Prince William wouldn't be the first interviewee to be smitten by Fearne's charms.

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Ferne pictured recently with Prince's William and Harry

R&B star Usher declared her to be "completely gorgeous", and Robbie Williams proposed marriage live on camera.

"There was no way that I'd marry Robbie," she says.

"Apart from anything else, I could never be part of that celebrity world.

"As for Prince William's rumoured interest in me… if I was single, I might be interested.

"In person, I found him very suave and sophisticated, a proper gent in all ways. But even if romance had bloomed between us, I can't imagine that the Palace would have encouraged it. I'm far too common.

"Having said that, I think I'd make a really good Queen. I wear a tiara well. I could change the National Anthem to Led Zep's Good Times Bad Times.

"And I'd issue a decree that every home in Britain must have a record-player and a decent collection of vinyl."

Yes it seems you can keep your CDs and your digital downloads. According to Fearne, there's only one way to listen to music: on vinyl.

"Ah, nothing beats the smell of fresh vinyl in the morning," declares Fearne Cotton.

Cheekily misquoting Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now, she arrives at the west London photographic studio to find herself knee-deep in the objects of her passion – vinyl and plenty of it.

 

Twelve-inchers, seven-inchers, black vinyl, every-colour-under-the-sun vinyl. Fearne beams, her smile lighting up the studio like a strobe light. Vinyl makes her happy. Vinyl makes her giddy. Vinyl is Fearne's religion.

Music has been a constant theme in her ten-year career as TV presenter and DJ.

Whether interviewing bands on the early-morning Disney Club at the age of 16, introducing her favourite acts in the last years of Top Of The Pops or meeting and greeting the world's biggest names at July's Concert For Diana, Fearne, 26, has always reserved her greatest enthusiasm for music.

And when it comes to listening to her favourite bands, she is one of a staunch breed of fans for whom vinyl is sacred – a fast-growing breed it would seem, with recent reports suggesting a huge revival in the fortunes of vinyl records.

With bands such as Arctic Monkeys, Razorlight and The White Stripes leading the way, sales of vinyl singles leapt 13 per cent in the first half of 2007 and now account for two-thirds of the market.

If you want to get a rise out of Fearne, simply play devil's advocate, ignore the statistical evidence of vinyl's booming rebirth, and playfully suggest that vinyl records are a quaint anachronism, almost entirely redundant in these digital days. Then stand well back and watch her blow a fuse.

"That's a monstrous thing to say – vinyl is king," she says. "It's still unbeatable as a musical format.

"CDs are functional but essentially unloveable and there's no magic involved in downloading a song. But playing vinyl is a beautiful ritual.

"What can compare to the feeling of carefully removing a treasured record from its sleeve, placing it on the deck and hearing that reassuring crackle as the needle hits the groove?

"People say, “Yes, but records get scratched.” I love the scratches. Some of my favourite records have scratches and those scratches become part of the listening experience.

"I'm not completely opposed to the iPod – I've got one and it's handy for the car.

"If I could play vinyl when I'm driving, I would. But flipping the records over would be a bit difficult when I'm tearing down the M1.

"Last month, I went camping with friends in Cornwall. On the second day, I was craving my fix of vinyl.

"So we went to a car-boot sale and picked up a load of bargains – original Elvis, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton albums for 50p each.

"Then I managed to find a portable, battery-powered record player going cheap in a second-hand store.

"We were all set up for the week. Endless barbecues and music being played as it should be played. Idyllic."

Fearne's vinyl fixation goes back as far as she can remember.

Growing up in the London suburb of Eastcote with younger brother Jamie, music was always around her.

Father Mick worked as a signwriter for large music events such as Live Aid and yielded to no one in his love for classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, the Who and the Doors.

Her mother Lyn worked in alternative therapy and had a penchant for Phil Spector's Wall Of Sound productions, Stax and Motown.

"I was about four when I first started to get into records," she says.

"My dad would put on Led Zeppelin IV and play Stairway To Heaven over and over. "I was fascinated by this gorgeous sound coming off a piece of plastic. But it wasn't until I was seven or eight that my parents trusted me with their record player.

"After that, there was no stopping me. Whole weekends would be spent going through their collection, discovering all kinds of amazing stuff.

"When I was nine and getting pocket money I could afford my own records. I remember heading down the shops with 50p in my pocket wondering which record would take my fancy.

"I happened to find a copy of the Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever in a secondhand shop. It was scratched to bits but I loved it beyond words."

Fearne was 19 and already established as a children's TV presenter when the time came to leave home.

This was particularly heart-wrenching for her as it meant that she would be separated from her parents' vast vinyl collection.

"I begged them to let me take it with me, but no luck.

"They were afraid I'd throw wild parties and spill beer all over their most treasured records.

"They only started to relent when I got myself properly sorted in a nice, orderly flat and fixed myself up with a state-of-the-art hi-fi.

"Then I was allowed to borrow their collection in small instalments, solemnly promising to take care of it.

"Over the years, I've managed to borrow quite a large chunk and I've got hundreds of my own records.

"Just recently, I also managed to persuade my mum to hand over her entire collection of original Motown singles.

"I think that calls for a special vinyl party at my place."

In 2004, after badgering the BBC for three years, she achieved her childhood dream, becoming Top Of The Pops' regular presenter until the plug was pulled on the show in 2006.

For Fearne, the show's demise was as poignantly symbolic as the fading popularity of vinyl records.

"Growing up, there were certain things that for me encapsulated the romance of pop music," she says.

"If you loved it, you'd read about your favourite bands in Smash Hits or NME, saved your money to buy their records, and wait all week to see them on TOTP.

"I experienced so many great moments on that show, such as when U2 played a 30-minute set in the BBC car park.

"People were hanging out of windows to get a good view.

"Traffic came to a standstill. I had to pinch myself to remind myself I was actually a part of it.

"I was so gutted when the BBC decided to end the show. I'd have happily done it for nothing until the day I died."

Traditionally, it's the male half of a relationship that seizes control of the record collection, taking responsibility for what's played and ensuring that every disc is put back in its rightful alphabetical place.

But not in Fearne's house. In a neat reversal of conventional roles, it's her model boyfriend Jesse Jenkins who gets to do all the cooking, while Fearne is left to play the in-house DJ.

Unsurprisingly, the arrangement suits her just fine. In fact, right now, everything in her life suits her fine.

"I'm quite looking forward to getting old," she says.

"Living on a hill with my man and my cats, listening to my old vinyl. Then, when I finally pop my clogs, I can leave my massive record collection to my grandchildren.

"What are all the downloaders going to do? Bequeath their hard drives? It's just not the same is it? No wonder people are coming back to vinyl in their droves. You'd be mad not to." "Holly & Fearne Go Dating" is on ITV1 next month. Fearne presents "The Xtra Factor" this Saturday on ITV2

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