We speak to Pointless star Richard Osman about growing up in Essex

PUBLISHED: 12:06 06 February 2018 | UPDATED: 13:00 06 February 2018

Richard Osman

Richard Osman


As inquisitive, leftfield and quirky thinking goes, few can rival that of TV frontman Richard Osman’s take on the world. But can trendy Billericay really take all the credit? Danny Bowman puts the question to the Pointless star

It’s all very well being labelled a ‘giant of light entertainment’, but if your stature is more that of a racing jockey you’re going to struggle to pull it off visually once you return to the stables. Luckily for Richard Osman, he is a giant… I struggle to suffix that with the word ‘literally’, but at 6ft 7 it’s close enough. He also doesn’t like horses.

‘I think “giant” is a bit strong!’ chimes Richard, as the notion is floated. ‘In the modern era of television there are a lot of faces who are very “present”, if you understand what I mean by that. I think it’s more the case now than ever before, but we are so exposed by who we see, because it’s not just on the telly as it was when I was a kid growing up in Billericay, it’s on social media, on the covers of magazines… the lot.’

Not that Richard necessarily regards celebrity exposure as a bad thing. Why would he? A fair veteran now of more than 1,000 Pointless quiz shows – you know, the one where contestants strive to seek out the least popular correct answer – the 47-year-old has extended his considerable reach to take in several other mainstream projects, from Have I Got News for You and QI to Dragons’ Den and Child Genius.

Richard OsmanRichard Osman

‘I think for me it comes down to feeling thrilled and excited by something,’ he offers. ‘If there’s a book or a show or a presenting job that strikes a chord with me, I’ll usually need a pretty good reason not to get involved.

‘I’ve always had an inquisitive mind and am lucky enough, I suppose, to get paid for exploring that. I think I’d be this inquisitive even if I was doing all this in my spare time, as I’ve got a mind for facts and information, and if it means I get to make [Pointless host] Alexander Armstrong look stupid in the process, then that’s got to be worthwhile!’

Embarrassing privately-educated presenter, actor and comedian Alexander is easier said than done, yet while the show’s host can trace his aristocratic relatives back to William the Conqueror, Richard’s roots are rather more subdued. Born in Billericay, his dad walked out on the family when he was nine, with he and his brother being raised by their single-parent mum.

Richard OsmanRichard Osman

Both overcame that setback to court national headlines, with his elder, Mat, best known as the bassist for hugely successful indie band Suede, who scored three number one albums during the 1990s.

Richard’s route took him via Trinity College, Cambridge, where he met Alexander Armstrong, but it wasn’t until a year shy of his 40th birthday that he made his television bow with Pointless, although as a producer and executive director at Endemol, he had certainly served his apprenticeship behind the camera.

What makes Richard so endearing is a passion for the quirkier aspects of life, and over the last 18 months this appetite was no better satisfied than when he fronted a Twitter project to determine the true global champions of chocolate, crisps and biscuits. ‘I couldn’t believe that the plain old chocolate digestive won the battle,’ he says.

Richard OsmanRichard Osman

‘Think of all those quality biscuits that lost out – all that style, all those fillings, all that sugar!’

But with over 3million Twitter voters compounding our confectionary assumptions, Richard took the idea forward a further stage and is now presiding over the release of a rather more ubiquitous The World Cup of Everything.

‘It’s a book that takes 32 varieties of popular products, shows and services, inviting you to banter with friends and family until you get to the crunch of what is really the best dog, the best sitcom, the best band. And although this started as a project on social media, what’s great about this is all you need is a pencil and an opinion – just like in the good old days.’

Richard OsmanRichard Osman

Not that Richard has much time to look back – he has two teenage children in his life, for starters. That said, he does offer his time in Essex a generous nod. ‘There were of course tough times in my childhood, but I look on the setbacks as markers where I have gone on to achieve something I might not have otherwise done.

‘We ended up moving to West Sussex, but it’s difficult to think of another county that has cultivated such a strong image as Essex. It’s pretty unique in its people and its spirit, but it’s also beautiful in parts with long sweeping fields, yet attached at the other end to the capital.

‘Even my old home town is undergoing an incredible regeneration in the form of the football team, Billericay Town,’ Richard continues. ‘They are courting national headlines and have ambitions of playing my beloved Fulham on an equal footing one day, although they might have to wait a while!’

Richard OsmanRichard Osman

What defines Richard is that he’s one of those people genuinely fascinated by life and by what’s going on around him. He’s a mass of contradictions – a working-class lad who went to Cambridge, a country music fan who adores Mary Berry.

‘I just like to soak it all up,’ he says. ‘Being clever has never been that popular – I think we’re afraid of clever people as it makes us feel self-conscious, and yet we migrate around funny or good-looking folk. I think genuine intelligence isn’t about the stuff you study at university though; it’s about having an interest and investment in day-to-day things, and being able to contribute.

‘We can end up down some pretty dull rabbit holes with celebrity culture if we allow ourselves to be sucked in by it all. I don’t think that’s the stuff that really matters. Whether a bourbon trumps a custard cream, or if Greggs should get in ahead of Nando’s – clearly that does!’


Follow Essex Life on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Essex Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Essex Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Essex Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Fri, 17:09

Escape to the Chateau star Angel Adoree is currently reaping the benefits of her incredible vision and drive to build an overseas wedding and lifestyle business from scratch with husband Dick Strawbridge. Here she tells Essex Life about series five of the hit Channel 4 show and how a strong Essex work ethic helped her dream so big | Words: Denise Marshall

Read more
Wed, 13:28

Hannah Salisbury from the Essex Record Office tells the story of an exciting project that is taking memories on tour around the county

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

Whether you know him for his madcap antics, his reality TV appearances or his unique voice, Essex boy Joe Pasquale has earned his place as one of the nation’s favourite entertainers. Kate Everett caught up with Joe to hear what’s next in his 30-year showbiz career

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

With the help of finance expert and writer Philip Beresford, Essex Life reveals the 2018 Essex Life Richest 50

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Epping is so much more than the last stop on the Central Line. Petra Hornsby meets the volunteers helping to preserve one of Epping’s most treasured and enduring treasures – its forest

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The agricultural heritage of the county cannot be underestimated. Here Stephanie Mackentyre visits three farms that have been feeding Essex for generations

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Paycocke’s House and Gardens, now owned by The National Trust, is one of the county’s most precious historic sites and 2018 marks 500 years since the death of the man who gave the house its name. Ruth McKegney tells the tale of this Coggeshall jewel

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Southend has given the great and the good fabulous days of fun beside the seaside for generations, and they keep coming! Petra Hornsby tells the tale of one newcomer who has fallen in love with Southend through a comedy connection with Laurel and Hardy

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Neil Oliver is perhaps best known for his role as the presenter of the BBC’s Coast series, but he is about to embark on a quite different tour of the UK, calling in at Southend. Kate Everett found out more

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Essex-raised TV personality Andy Day has been a favourite on BBC children’s channel CBeebies for over 12 years. Now he’s branched into music, touring nationwide with his family-friendly band, Andy and the Odd Socks. Here he tells Denise Marshall about his Glastonbury debut, fighting bullying and becoming a father

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search