Alice Levine interview for The Circle

The Circle airs tonight, Sept 18 on Channel 4 at 9.15pm


Channel 4

Alice Levine, 32, co-hosts the Radio 1 weekend breakfast show and co-created the hit podcast My Dad Wrote A Porno

What attracted you to presenting The Circle?

It's not like anything else I've ever worked on or even watched, so it feels pretty thrilling to be there at the start of it. The Circle feels timely and exciting, like a conversation that's happening right now anyway. It's about the judgments we make, about identity and the versions of ourselves we put forward. A lot of reality shows aren't asking those questions, which is why this one appeals to me where perhaps others haven't. It'll be fascinating to see how people curate their lives. Even if you don't think you filter your life on social media, by its very nature you're only showing part of yourself. It'll be fascinating to see people who are think they're master manipulators and how quickly they get totally rumbled. And on the flipside, people who think "I'm just going to be me". As we've seen from reality shows in the past, that's often the greatest game plan of all because it's the easiest thing to maintain.

What would you do?

It'd be fun to have a little play around and test people's preconceptions. We all make snap judgments on small amounts of information. We do it all the time with online dating, deciding whether to spend time someone on the basis of a short blurb and three pics. It'll be interesting see if people are more than their biog. But I'd get caught out if I constructed a whole other identity, so I'd probably just try and be the best version of me. Less grouchy and more pleasant.

How truthful is your own online identity?

Well, I have a secret family and I'm actually a counterfeiter. But apart from that, I'm completely transparent. Do I post pictures of my overflowing laundry basket or the dirty dishes by the sink? No, I'll probably post a pic of the finished meal looking pretty. We're all skewed in what we show. It's a snapshot rather than the full picture.

Is social media a positive or negative force?

As much as they get a bad press sometimes, platforms like Instagram can be a great place for inspiration if you're into fashion or food or interiors. Whatever your passion is, it's an amazing portal and resource. You just need to have a healthy relationship with it and take it with a healthy pinch of salt. Social media should be part of a variety of places you go. I wouldn't go to Twitter to get all of my news or go to Instagram as the only way of talking to my friends, but it can be a supplement.

Which social media do you use?

Mainly Instagram and Twitter. I still have Facebook but don't really use it. Twitter is handy for canvassing ideas and stories for the radio. It's a good way to connect with people.

Do you have a healthy relationship with social media?

I feel no pressure to post and am happy with what I put on there. But I do find myself falling into that Instagram quagmire where you suddenly realise that two hours have passed and you're still mindlessly scrolling. It's very easy to sit with a screen in front of you and sometimes it would be good to put your phone down. But I've met really good friends on social media, after connecting over shared interests.

Have you ever started a romantic relationship online?

No, I can't say I have. I dipped my toe into dating sites many moons ago, at the dawn of the dating app when you had to crank up a handle. I think I was one of the first people on there. There were only four of us and it's not very good if the pool's really small.

Does social media ever affect your mood or self-esteem?

I think it can definitely change your mood. But I personally don't find it a scary or damaging space to be in anymore. Maybe I'm thicker-skinned because I've worked in TV and radio for a while now. But it’s not easy to ignore. Just like there's been criticism of magazine culture for affecting people's self-esteem, Instagram is like an online version. You just have to remember that it's editorialised and you can't read too much into anything that happens there. You can't take too much validation from positive reinforcement, just as you probably shouldn't get too offended or upset about negative comments. Which is easier said than done, obviously. We know it’s only human to get that chemical uplift, that dopamine hit, from feeling like something's been well-received - but sometimes we forget it's just the opinion of strangers, and it’s an ephemeral high. If it’s making you feel bad, you have to disconnect for a bit, we should all do that more.

Has social media helped your career?

Indirectly, I guess. It's a good place to tell people about the work you're doing and a great forum to talk about shared interests. Unfortunately, I'm not an Instagram star as yet. All follows welcome. I'm happy to pay and willing to take bots, I'm not proud.

Have you ever been trolled or catfished?

I've definitely had horrible messages sent to me. Unfortunately, that feels part of being on TV and radio. People just tell you they don't like you - and that's just close friends and family! I used to take great delight in replying to negative stuff before I realised that was quite time consuming. But I think sometimes people forget that you're a real person and if you reply saying "Hey dude, I don't come to your work and tell you how to do your job", they'll often go, "I'm so sorry, I was having a really bad day." I've never been fully catfished but I suppose there's an element of catfishing to every online dating profile. Artful cropping and filtering always happens. I used a pic that was so criminally old, I'm surprised I didn't get reported to the Advertising Standards Authority. It was genuinely misleading.

What would you like to see happen in The Circle?

I'd love to see romance unfolding. Those three dots appearing where someone's typing a message. We've all waited for those replies and had those interactions, but we've never watched the process before pressing send - and then immediately regretting it. There's some really identifiable parts of contemporary dating - crafting messages, worrying over how many kisses to put on the end - that it'll be fascinating to see play out in painful detail.

How would you cope being alone in an apartment for three weeks?

I'd go slightly bonkers. I like my own company so I'd be fine for a bit, but three weeks is a long time and I think I'd come to rely on relationships formed in The Circle. I'd be doing a lot of cooking and eating. You'd have to roll me out of there. You’d have to take some books.

What would you do if you won £50,000 prize money?

I’d love to say...I’d buy a speed boat! But my dad would tell me be sensible, not to fritter it away, you know get an ISA. I'd desperately want to do something flamboyant or frivolous but probably couldn’t bring myself to. Go on then, a big shop at the supermarket.

Are you looking forward to co-presenting with Maya Jama?

We're radio next door neighbours but now we'll be able to chat for longer than 3 minutes 30 seconds, which is all we get to do at the moment. It's a real family at Radio 1 so this feels like a nice extension of it. It's going to be loads of fun.

Finally, what are your most used emojis?

Definitely the eyeroll. And I'm quite a fan of the prawn because I don't feel it gets used enough. I'm also partial to a gif. Maybe a Saved By The Bell one if it feels right. I'm not afraid to live on the edge.

Source Channel 4

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September 18, 2018 9:09am ET by Pressparty  


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