Food and Drink
Table Talk: Anthony CrankDianne Bourne
HE'S rolled around on Sharon Osborne's back garden and Jackie Stallone famously studied his backside for an unconventional `bottom reading'.
There's never been a dull moment in the life of TV presenter Anthony Crank - and he's clearly relished every minute.
Anthony is now `back home' in Manchester after his frenetic years in London as a celebrity interviewer for firstly OK magazine and then most famously for Channel 4's youth programming T4.
That particular job would see him chatting away to celebs around the world - everyone from Angelina Jolie to Martin Scorsese to Nelson Mandela - and, of course, meeting with Sylvester Stallone's surreal mum, Jackie, for that intriguing bottom reading.
So he's obviously great company for a bit of celeb gossip as we head for a spot of lunch and a cosy booth at the Lowry Hotel's River Bar and Restaurant.
We are both tempted by goodies on the 777 menu - to celebrate the hotel's seventh year in business - where every course is priced at £7.
As we're both trying to be healthy, Anthony opts for the cream of leek soup with truffle oil for starter, while I go for the Parma Ham and pear salad, and we both plump for a chicken with peas and baby gem lettuce for main meals.
Anthony's back in Manchester preparing for a new role as presenter of ITV's new nightly Bingo show - and also back in pursuit of his first love of acting.
Anthony, 34, was among the talented crop of classmates at the famous Oldham Theatre Workshop, in the same year as a host of young drama hopefuls who would also go on to success in showbiz - the likes of Coronation Street's Antony Cotton and Suranne Jones, Hollywood star Anna Friel and ex-Emmerdaler Lisa Riley.
Now he's been back at the acting classes and heading to a number of auditions back in the city.
"My dream job would be a part in Coronation Street," he confides. "If I got on that I'd want to be a character who stays for the duration, like a new Ken Barlow."
Growing up in Manchester was an exciting time for Anthony. He says: "It was the time when the Hacienda was just at its peak. This city was just so important to me. It was such a great place to be at that time."
But, at the age of 23, Anthony was lured to the bright lights of London. "I moved to London to make my fortune," he laughs.
"I ended up doing all manner of jobs. I styled one of boyband Five's videos and ended up as the costume-maker on a tour with the band World's Apart, and I couldn't sew a stitch." From there he headed into writing, on music and teen magazines and ended up working on OK magazine for 18 months.
"I think I was responsible for bringing reality shows into those sorts of mags. My mantra was `I'm more interested in Jennifer Ellison than Jennifer Anniston'."
While on a working break for the mag in Ibiza, Anthony bumped into an influential TV boss, who saw him as the perfect celebrity correspondent for Channel 4's youth programming T4 alongside the likes of Vernon Kay and Steve Jones.
"It all kicked off from there, really," muses Anthony. "T4 is like the Oxford and Cambridge of TV, you get to learn your craft so well there."
And he also got the plum job in TV - on the BBC's Holiday show jetting to far-flung destinations all around the world.
But after 10 years in London, Anthony decided last year to head back home to Manchester, and he now feels it was the best decision he's ever made.
He says: "If London was a partner, it would be a shallow, moody, PMT-ridden life partner - and I've just had to live with that for a decade. It's so great to be back up north. I've never been happier or had so much fun."
River Bar and Restaurant, The Lowry Hotel, 50 Dearman's Place, Chapel Wharf, M3 5LH, (0161 827 4041).
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