Toby set to take to the airwaves

HE'S had a close encounter with a legendary rock star, held conversations in a cupboard with a puppet and even eaten crocodile tail in the jungle, all in the line of duty.

HE'S had a close encounter with a legendary rock star, held conversations in a cupboard with a puppet and even eaten crocodile tail in the jungle, all in the line of duty.

Now former children's TV star Toby Anstis is set to take Norfolk and north Suffolk by storm on Heart FM, the new name for Radio Broadland.

From early January, the much-loved local station is changing its name and image to join the successful Heart FM brand. But dedicated listeners concerned about their favourite radio shows need not worry - seasoned breakfast show hosts Rob and Chrissie, and Drivetime's Chris Marston aren't going anywhere.

Plans to bring 30 local radio stations across the UK under the Heart FM umbrella gives Broadland an opportunity to offer even more to their listeners. The new broadcasting schedule will see an exciting mix of shows and news created especially for the people of Norfolk and north Suffolk, combined with big name presenters such as Toby Anstis broadcasting from London.

Toby will take to the airwaves for the first in East Anglia on January 5 next year, having been a Heart FM presenter in London for the last six years.

Having enjoyed a career stretching back to the early 90s, with the BBC's pop magazine show aimed at teens, The Ozone, as well as a stint in the legendary Broom Cupboard, Toby has become a familiar face on our screens, and is now set to bring his own brand of friendly, excitable presenting to our airwaves.

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His visit to Norwich on Friday, to publicise his new Heart FM show, was carried out with typical Toby-esque whirlwind enthusiasm.

As excitable off-air as he is when he's working, he showered praise on the city.

“Norwich is a beautiful city,” he said. “I've been trying to convince the Heart bosses that I should move here. I love the vibe it has, and all the quaint streets - it has a bit of everything.

“I'm really looking forward to January 5 when I broadcast for the first time in Norfolk and Suffolk.”

His show, which goes out between 10am - 1pm weekdays, is one of a number of new shows on the Heart FM schedule which arrives in the region for the first time next month. Carefully planned to reflect the general mood of their listeners, the schedule also includes a Feel Good Friday show, a Heartbreakers love ballads show, and club classics for the weekends.

But despite all the new additions on a national level, the local delivery will remain the same.

“Rob and Chrissie are legends,” said Toby. “Everyone knows them. They've been together for so long that you can't imagine Norfolk and Suffolk without them; they're fantastic. This is very much your radio station, broadcast in your area, and that won't change.

“My show will be a wake-up call after Rob and Chrissie have got you out of bed. There will be lots of fresh music, love songs, club classics - a big mix of music. It will have a feel-good vibe, which is just what you need in January - something to put a smile on your face.”

Toby's own smile is infectious, and so is his personality. It's just as well as he remains determinedly cheerful - after all, his first ever presenting experience involved getting up close and personal with a legendary rock star.

“My first job on The Ozone was to interview INXS in Rome. I was fresh out of university and dead nervous. But we were surrounded by huge aerials everywhere and they really interfered with the sound. So I had to strap loads of microphones all over Michael Hutchence. He must have thought I was an amateur.

“After The Ozone, I had a stint in the famous Broom Cupboard. Someone suggested I needed a puppet, so I was presented with this aardvark. We were invited to suggest names for it, and someone suggested Otis. I asked where the name came from, and it turns out that Otis was named after a lift manufacturer!”

As well as also hosting the National Lottery, Grandstand, Children in Need and Trust Me, I'm a Holiday Rep, Toby also had a stint on the jungle-based reality show I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here.

“I was in there with Jason Donovan, who's now also a Heart FM presenter, Jan Leeming, David Gest and Mylene Klass. You're just flung in the jungle with people you don't know, there are lots of personality clashes, and the food is awful. We were given crocodile tail to eat, and we spent two hours peeling the skin off. We really did just exist on rice and beans. To top it all, I had David Gest snoring at the end of my bunk.

“It was an amazing experience, and I was chuffed to be asked, but I'd never do it again.

“Now I'm looking forward to January 5, and broadcasting my show to the people of Norfolk and north Suffolk. It's a big deal to me, and I hope I can keep up with the Norwich vibe.”