It has to be one of the UK’s most prized TV presenting jobs, and a student from the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) is in the frame to become the next Blue Peter presenter.
Ben Hunte, a 21-year-old studying psychology and cognitive neuroscience, is one of only 10 hopefuls whittled down from a field of 20,000 applicants for a chance to present the iconic long-running children’s show.
The adventure-loving student is already a well-known and popular face on campus, where he is currently president of the Student Association, founder and editor-in-chief of university magazine Ignite and regular blogger about life at UNMC. He won a full scholarship to study at the beautiful Malaysia campus, where he also receives a stipend to explore the region at weekends in return for reporting back his experiences on his blog.
His “insane” Malaysian adventures have already stood him in excellent stead for the Blue Peter role. He has been trekking, mountain climbing, skydiving and bungee jumping. In fact, Ben credits UNMC with conquering any remaining fears he had, including a fear of flying, and also giving him a truly global cultural experience.
“I don’t know where I’d be without UNMC,” said Ben. “The world’s changing and the opportunity to study abroad has been amazing. Malaysia has opened up the world to me.”
Studying at UNMC has opened his eyes to different cultures and he is proud to have student editors from all corners of the globe writing for Ignite. Meanwhile, being almost 10,000 miles away from loved ones back in the UK has brought resourcefulness and maturity he might not have experienced going to university in his home country. It has also brought a dislike of the cold, thanks to the sunny Malaysian climes, but that would be a small price to pay for the ultimate TV job.
Here’s one I made earlier
His achievement is all the more impressive considering he had never been in front of a video camera – let alone had any presenting experience - until his friend shot a one-take audition tape, an entertaining showcase of his Malaysian experiences, which he sent to the BBC. He had considered acting or presenting as a career but is pleased he followed his parents’ advice to further his education first.
As with millions of British children growing up over the last 55 years, Blue Peter was part of Ben’s childhood, but he did not recall seeing many presenters he could relate to.
“There weren’t many young, black presenters on children’s television, so I didn’t feel there were role models for me,” he said. “I want to give something back, to be that inspiring, younger person, to be accessible to the audience and to connect with people on a more personal level. I’m unlike anyone who has been on Blue Peter before and I’m up for anything!”
He now faces a very public audition, where the finalists are put through their paces in a series of Blue Peter-style challenges in a weekly programme, Blue Peter - You Decide! Each week, one of the finalists gets voted off by an expert panel, before the final three are eventually announced, which then goes to the public vote.
Prof Christine Ennew, CEO and Provost, UNMC, has no doubt that Ben would be the perfect choice to be Blue Peter’s new presenter. She said: “Ben has a natural ability to engage with people and make them feel special. He has creativity and imagination and, perhaps most of all, enthusiasm and openness to things that are new, exciting and different.”
Blue Peter – You Decide! airs later this month.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It was ‘one of the first to embrace a truly international approach to higher education’, according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2013. It is also one of the most popular universities among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong and the QS World Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its research into global food security.
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