As media careers built on force of personality alone go, Rylan Clark-Neal’s has proven surprisingly durable. Going from part-time model to reality star to daytime TV host in no time at all – incredibly, he’s still not yet 30 – Rylan’s rise has been unstoppable.
From the moment audiences saw him unashamedly bawling with joy on Nicole Scherzinger’s couch on The X Factor in 2012, Rylan’s eventual emergence as one of Britain’s best-loved TV personalities seemed inevitable.
Where once he was just another X Factor runner-up, today Rylan is an Xtra Factor host, sometime presenter on This Morning, regular host on Big Brother spin-off show Bit on the Side and all-round media personality virtuoso.
With Big Brother at an end and its sideshow host gearing up to move onto new things, here are ten things you never knew about Rylan Clark-Neal.
10. He got booted from regular Big Brother aged 18
In 2013, Rylan entered and ultimately won the Celebrity Big Brother house, but what most BB fans don’t know is that he had almost been a star of the regular edition of the show six years prior.
In 2007, when he was just 18, Rylan was due to enter the Big Brother house as a surprise housemate. Before he got to meet the likes of Brian Belo and Charley Uchea, however, Rylan’s involvement leaked to the press, and his introduction to the house was cancelled last-minute.
9. He was appearing in BBC comedies before he was famous
After the opportunity to appear in Big Brother 8 came and went, Rylan turned to BBC comedy for a shot at fame.
In 2010, Rylan cameoed in four episodes of John Bishop’s Britain, a mix of sketches and stand-up that played for two seasons on BBC One. He featured as an Essex model and, as it turns out, modelling was indeed another string in Rylan’s bow in real life.
8. He almost won a Sky modelling show before X Factor
CBB and X Factor weren’t Rylan’s first brushes with reality fame – before he appeared on either, Rylan made a splash on another short-lived reality show aired on Sky Living.
Signed by Katie Price revolved around a modelling competition, with the ultimate winner securing a contract with Katie Price’s management company. Rylan was a runner-up, beaten to the punch by eventual Miss Universe Great Britain 2013 winner Amy Willerton.
7. He’s best mates with Katie Price
While he didn’t take a modelling contract away with him from Signed by Katie Price, Rylan at least had the foundation for what would prove to be a lasting celebrity friendship.
Today, Rylan and glamour model Price are the best of pals. He considers their relationship to be an unusually – for celebs – honest one: “I’ll tell her exactly how it is. If it means me sounding rude to her, I don’t care, because that’s what mates do.”
6. He started out his music career in a Spanish boyband
Before he even tried out for X Factor, Rylan was making a living utilising his musical gifts. While temporarily living in Ibiza prior to his appearing on the talent show, Rylan gigged as a member of Take That and Westlife tribute bands.
He was also, until 2010, also part of a Spanish boyband called 4bidden. Online you can still find videos of him, alongside the rest of 4bidden, singing Girls Aloud covers for holidaygoers.
5. He’s a bestselling author
To recap, Rylan could legitimately call himself an actor, model, reality star, TV host and singer, and there’s another, even more surprising talent of Rylan’s that we can add to that list.
In 2016, Rylan released his autobiography, The Life of Rylan, to amazingly high interest. Not only was the book successful, The Life of Rylan actually shot to the no.1 spot on the The Sunday Times Bestsellers List.
4. ‘Rylan’ is just a stage name
There’s a reason you’ve never heard the name Rylan before, and it’s the same reason why Mr Clark-Neal chose it as his stage name in the first place.
When he was just starting out in his modelling career, Ross Richard Clark chose the name ‘Rylan’ because it was so unusual and memorable. But while we all know him as Rylan now, he says he’s still Ross at home.
3. He’s secretly ginger
You’d never know it from watching him rock jet black hair for almost his entire career, but Rylan’s real hair colour is significantly brighter than that we’re used to.
Rylan, in fact, was a red-headed kid, something that TV hosts like Keith Lemon and Lorraine Kelly occasionally like to find pictorial evidence of to embarrass Rylan with on their own shows.
2. He was raised by his mum and grandma
Rylan doesn’t like to talk about his father, to the extent that he’s not even offered up a name, evidently a result of the fact that – in Rylan’s own words – his dad was “never around” when he was growing up.
Instead, says Rylan, he was raised by his mother, Linda, and grandmother, something he revealed in a recent interview when talking about his now-deceased nan’s dementia: “It was crippling to see the woman who brought me up along with my mum sitting there unable to string a sentence together.”
1. His bathroom habits are…unusual
Part of Rylan’s appeal, to his fans, has always been an outrageous kind of eccentricity. A recent confession about his toilet habits, however, goes beyond eccentric into just plain mad.
On an edition of This Morning late last year, it was revealed that Rylan can only go number two if he first strips completely naked. “I think it started as a child”, he confessed, adding that his habit of taking off all his clothes first is the reason “why I can only go in my own house”.