PUBLISHED: 07:07 24 March 2014
The countdown has started. The On Air red light has just been fitted and the green screen studio is a-buzz with the TV presenters trying out the new sofas.
In the middle of them all and looking as at ease in front of the cameras as he was on the pitch at Carrow Road, is Darren Eadie - former Norwich City midfielder, soon to be the lead presenter of The Mustard Show, the magazine programme that will be the flagship offering from new local television station, Mustard TV.
With the Norwich-based TV service going on air at the end of the month, Darren is preparing to present the show live each weekday evening. Rather than being daunted by the intense pressure of live TV, he says he’s thrilled at the chance to be at the heart of the city’s newest venture.
“I love being part of this city. People care about Norwich and about Norfolk and they are rightly proud of it, so I think Mustard TV is going to be really well supported; it really taps into that sense of community,” he says.
Darren is no stranger to broadcasting, but The Mustard Show marks a new beginning - a completely new TV service, one of the very first to have been granted a local TV licence in England, and Darren, for once, won’t be talking sport!
“When you are playing football, all you are focused on is football and making a career out of it. But then with injuries at 28 I came out of it, and it was then a case of forging a new career. I’ve got into punditry on the radio and then with Anglia TV, and I found I really enjoyed it but it has always been sports orientated. So when the chance came to take it further with Mustard TV, I was delighted.
“This completely different to what I am used to, but I am a good listener and conversationalist. It is about your personality and putting it across to people. And I have to say I have an opinion on everything!”
Indeed Darren’s life has been much more full and complex than “just football” for a long time now. He came up through the Norwich youth system, debuting in 1993 a UEFA Cup match and being a major part of the Norwich team until 1999 when he was sold to Leicester City for more than £3 million. But knee injuries dogged his final years in the Premier League, and at just 28 he was told by the surgeons that his playing days were over.
Darren and wife Kelly moved back to the Norfolk to bring up their family, but he began to suffer panic attacks and depression. It was a difficult and frightening time, and a period that he now says he would not have got through without the love and support of his family.
His experiences gave him an insight into the need for help for sports people and ex-sports people who were suffering with mental health issues. He spoke publicly about what had happened to him, and developed the concept of a specialised retreat where the right help would be available from people who understood the very particular pressures and problems. Darren says he is frustrated that the Professional Footballers’ Association hasn’t done more to help this idea become a reality.
“The retreat has taken a back seat for the moment for me, although I am really keen to get it going,” he adds.
The past two years have been busy with setting up and running his charity website, www.sellebrity.org.uk, through which he auctions items donated by famous personalities. He also runs Sellebrity Soccer, which was behind Jamie’s Game at Norwich City’s ground last May, when a celebrity team including members of the pop band McFly, actors from EastEnders and the Harry Potter films, and Norfolk-born sports commentator Jake Humphrey take on Darren with other Norwich legends like Darren Huckerby, Dean Ashton and Iwan Roberts.
Darren plans to bring more celebrities to Carrow Road this year with Jamie’s Game: The Rematch in May. “The first raised over £60,000 for Community Sports Foundation, and we are going to aim for bigger and better this year.”
From the end of this month though The Mustard Show is Darren’s big challenge - with a huge range of people to meet and stories to tell. And he also hopes to maybe entice some celebrities on to the show.
“I would love to get Delia on there and I’d so love to interview Stephen Fry - I have always been a big fan of him and I must admit that most of my miscellaneous knowledge comes from QI!”