Insight: Tom Thurlow, presenter of MTVs The Freshers
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I met a girl at Leicester University this series who hadn’t eaten for over a day. She was a very funny example of a Fresher who hadn’t managed her student loan that well. I believe she had spent all of her budget and still had a good two weeks left to go without any more money. She was eating whatever she could nab off her friends or whenever she returned home to get fed! But she was so hungry on the day I was filming, she resorted to snogging her female friend for the price of a doughnut! Amazing content!
Has anything genuinely shocked you?
It’s very hard to shock me now after doing this series for three years. But I am quite impressed by the level of confidence this new intake of Freshers seem to have. No hesitation from the students when it comes to doing embarrassing dares if they can earn a few quid or get their moment on MTV. I think there might be something there for a new series; how far will students go for cash?
Is the image of students being drunken party-animals just a stereotype?
Definitely not! If students didn’t party, didn’t drink, etc etc then I wouldn’t have a show. However, students openly admit to me about partying and drinking so they should justly have the tag placed on them. This doesn’t mean that I think it’s a bad thing. I actually think students should party and let their hair down. It’s a very short part of their lives which will be over very quickly. They should enjoy every second of it and then make way for the next lot of Freshers.
Do you think students were just playing up to the cameras?
I think when anyone is on camera they may concentrate on what they say in order to be portrayed in the light they want to be shown in. But then it’s my job as the presenter to catch them off guard and get real answers from them. I think I’ve managed to do it!
Do you think Fresher’s are getting more wild?
Without a doubt. The media are definitely contributing to it too. The future generation of students read about how ‘out of control’ students are in the newspapers and long for the day when they get to do these things for themselves.
Do you think you are portraying students in a negative light?
I think I’m portraying them in the truest light possible. If I film forty student interviews and only broadcast the one or two that portray them as work-a-holics, my series would simply be an unfair representation. But if I broadcast the thirty odd students (the majority) that say they drink hard, party hard and wreak havoc – that’s a very fair representation. However I should just point out that the series does highlight the work students do and it also portrays students as highly intelligent and funny people. They come across as very likeable. I don’t think they need to worry about my series. I’m very much on the student’s side!
What do you think new students are worried about?
Simply put - the rising costs of University.
What do you think about the students who occupied the Millbank Building on the recent fees march?
I can totally empathise for their situation. I understand they’re concerned about the rising costs and they don’t want to be plummeted in more debt but I also think there are better ways to voice concern. Occupying the building in the way they did was irresponsible and put people’s lives in danger. Throwing extinguishers off the roof is a terrible example of how a peaceful protest can turn into an out of control mob.
What do you have planned next?
Filming students in their truest, realest form is definitely my passion now and I want to do more shows on a frequent basis to educate and entertain the next generation of students (as well as the existing ones!) So certainly keep your eyes peeled to http://www.mtv.co.uk/thefreshers to see more controversial student output!
Has asking ‘Tom’s embarrassing question’ put you on the receiving end of any bad reactions from students?
I can honestly say (believe it or not) that I’m yet to be punched as a result of one of my slightly cheeky questions! The normal response I get is a shocked face, followed by an answer. Students tend to open up and unashamedly answer! Occasionally they will refuse to answer and will find my question far too awkward to address. I enjoy these moments the best - and I’m sure the viewers do too…