While TV and radio presenter Reggie Yates might not quite be a household name, parents of young children will know him well as the voice of British children’s-TV character, Rastamouse.
That, however, is just one of the many feathers in the cap of the 33-year-old. His impressively varied career, which started with a role in the TV sitcom Desmond’s at the age of 8, has also included stints presenting seminal BBC chart-music show Top of the Pops, hosting his own show on BBC Radio 1, DJing around the globe, and a recurring role as Leo Jones alongside David Tennant’s 10th Doctor in Doctor Who.
He has presented a series of award-winning “Extreme” documentaries – Extreme Russia, Extreme South Africa and Extreme UK – which investigate youth-focused social issues around the world. Yates has also written and directed four short films, the second of which, Date Night, won Best UK Short Film at the London Independent Film Festival in 2014.
He was in the UAE for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship – as part of the bank’s Anyone’s Game campaign that aims make a sport that can seem stuffy and exclusive more appealing to young people – to share the decks with some of the biggest names in the golfing world.
“Well it’s something I’ve never done before: DJing with some of the best pro-golfers in the world,” Yates says.
He says he’s a big fan of the campaign he is fronting.
“Golf has this reputation as a bit of a stuffy, old man’s sport, with no talking, no smiling,” he says.
“But when you talk to the players, they all go to the driving range with their headphones on. It just sometimes doesn’t resonate so much with fans, so we’re trying to increase the inclusivity of the sport through music.”
With such a varied CV, what does he see as his main calling?
“I think the one uniting thing between all of these projects is the accessibility,” he says. “All of them put me in a position where I’m on a level with my audience, and that’s the cornerstone of everything that I do.
“Whether I’m hosting a radio show or presenting a documentary, I’m the same geezer. The way I’m talking to you now is no different to if I’m talking to the camera in the middle of Siberia following a horrendous experience with Russian nationalists.
“I’ve been really fortunate to be able to grow with my audience over 26 years on screen and have that relationship with them.”
He is, however, aware that his career is unusually diverse.
“It’s only really when I sit down in situations like this that I ever think about the breadth of everything I’ve done,” he says.
“But I did have this really cool moment last year where I was nominated for three Broadcast Awards. I was nominated for Best Entertainment for a [game] show I did called Release the Hounds, for Best Factual for Extreme Russia, and for Best Pre-School for Rastamouse. That’s never happened before, and I honestly don’t think it will ever happen again. It’s an unusual combination.”
He modestly omits to mention that he also won Royal Television Society Awards for Extreme Russia and Release the Hounds the same year.
As for the future, his upcoming documentary, Hidden Australia (titled Extreme Australia outside of the UK), explores the challenges faced by Australia’s aboriginal communities.
New show Ultimate Hell Week, which begins in the UK on January 29, will take a group of Britons to South Africa to train with some of the world’s leading special forces, while a third series of Release the Hounds – in which contestants race for a prize while being chased by dogs – is due to begin in the UK next month.
“It’s unusual on paper,” he says of the mix of shows.
“But I’m really drawn to things that feel different, authentic and original, whatever field they’re in.”