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Monday, 31 May, 1999, 08:41 GMT 09:41 UK
TV Tarrant in the spotlight
chris tarrant
Chris Tarrant: A long way from living in the back of a Mini
Broadcaster Chris Tarrant once sold himself as the face of the 1970s - but it is in the late 1990s that he finds himself at the peak of his career.

With a string of hit TV shows under his belt, plus his lucrative position presenting the breakfast show on London radio station Capital FM, the genial presenter is thought to earn around a million pounds each year.

Now he finds himself at the centre of a royal privacy storm - pictured lifting up the bikini top of Prince Edward's bride Sophie Rhys-Jones, when she was working as a publicist for Capital in 1988.

Tarrant, 52, used his programme on Wednesday to deny he was ever romantically-linked with Rhys-Jones - but used some of his strongest words to attack his former co-host Kara Noble, who took the pictures that appear in The Sun.

'Totally sickened'

Another award for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
"To the person who has sold these pictures, you know who you are. Kara, how will you ever be able to look Sophie in the face again? I don't feel angry, I don't feel disgust - I feel deeply saddened.

"I am totally sickened by everything that has happened in the last 24 hours. The world is a less happy place than it was yesterday.

"There is a taste of dirt in my mouth this morning."

From 1987 to 1995, Chris Tarrant and Kara Noble were London's most popular radio presenters, as millions of listeners across the city tuned in to hear the pair exchange quips and banter each morning.

Best-known for TV work

kara noble
Kara Noble: Left claiming she was part of Tarrant's "harem"
But Noble quit to join Capital's rival, Heart FM, claiming their partnership off-air was less light-hearted.

She served as the butt of many of Tarrant's jokes during their time on air - one time he compared her face to King Kong's backside.

Outside London, Tarrant is still best-known for his TV work. As a young man he gained a degree in English from Birmingham University before working as a lorry driver and a security guard.

Then he worked as a teacher in Brockley, south London, where he fell on hard times and ended up living in his grey Mini van, which was parked outside the school. He even had his post delivered there.

He bombarded TV stations with letters which read: "I am the face of the 1970s and this is your last chance to snap me up."

Midlands station ATV did just that - and he started work on its evening news show, interviewing a string of eccentrics.

Big break on Tiswas

Tarrant's breakfast show on Capital FM is London's most popular radio show
Then he hosted its anarchic children's show Tiswas, making him into a cult figure as the show went nationwide. An adult spin-off, OTT, was also launched.

During the 1980s he was better-known for his radio work with Capital, but in the late 1990s his TV career blossomed again with two game shows, Man O Man and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Millionaire, which offers contestants the chance to win a million pounds by answering 15 questions of increasing difficulty, caused controversy, but it delivered ratings of almost 18m for ITV and the format has now been sold worldwide. It won a Bafta for best light entertainment programme earlier this year.

Away from the camera and the microphone, he is a keen fisherman. Two years ago he broke his arm falling out of a tree while trying to get a good view of where fish were feeding.

He followed that by breaking his leg while playing with his children.

Married to his second wife, Ingrid, his broadcasting deals are estimated to bring in an income of more than a million pounds each year. He also adds to his income with his own clothing retail chain.

See also:

09 Mar 99 | Entertainment
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The sidekick who struck back
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