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Gok Wan

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Gok Wan
Gok Wan cropped.jpg
Gok Wan
Born Kowkhyn Wan[1]
(1974-09-09) 9 September 1974 (age 44)
Leicester, Leicestershire, England, UK
Residence London, England
Nationality British
Occupation Fashion stylist
Television presenter
Years active 1994–present
Employer BBC, Channel 4, ITV
Television How to Look Good Naked
Gok's Fashion Fix
Miss Naked Beauty
Gok's Clothes Roadshow
Gok Cooks Chinese
Baggage
This Morning
Gok's Fill Your House For Free
Website Official website

Gok Wan (born Kowkhyn Wan; Chinese: 溫國興; Cantonese Jyutping: Wan1 gwok3 hing3; 9 September 1974[2]) is an English fashion consultant, author and television presenter.

Initially training in the performing arts at the Central School of Speech and Drama, he then entered the fashion business, writing for popular fashion magazines and appearing on various television shows. In 2006, Channel 4 employed him to present his own television show, How to Look Good Naked, which lasted for three series. Moving into other genres, he presented a series of documentaries on social problems among young people, drawing on his personal battles with obesity and homophobia, and presented a Chinese cooking show entitled Gok Cooks Chinese.[3]

Early life

Gok Wan was born Kowkhyn Wan[4] in Leicester, to an English mother, Myra, and a Chinese father, John Tung Shing Wan, who was born in Hong Kong and emigrated to England at age 16.[5] He grew up in Whetstone, Leicestershire, where he worked in his parents' restaurant. Wan stood out from his peers from a young age and endured bullying from other children due to the fact that he was mixed race, tall, overweight and gay.[6][7]

During his teenage years he weighed as much as 21 stone (133 kg, 294 lb), later commenting that he was "really fat".[8] He was drawn to performing arts with aspirations of becoming an actor, and after leaving Babington Community College he began attending a course at the Charles Keene College of Further Education. Wan received a diploma from the college, then enrolled at the Central School of Speech and Drama and continued to study performing arts. However, the other students had backgrounds very different from his and he felt that his weight was beginning to dictate his life, later saying:

"[It affected] everything: my personality, how people reacted to me, what I wore, everything. When you sit down with someone who's 21 stone you have certain expectations of what they're like: stupid, lazy or really funny."[7]

He felt restricted and unhappy and eventually dropped out of the course, returning to live with his family.

Wan set about losing weight and at the age of 20 he began a crash diet, losing half his weight in several months. In his autobiography he includes a section from a calorie diary he kept at the time, revealing he survived for weeks on end on as little as fruit and honey. He also took up to 50 laxatives a day to prevent himself gaining weight from the little food he did consume. Wan reveals that during his diet he lacked energy and motivation; this, coupled with the stress of his course, sent him into depression. He states that he became suicidal around this time – "I fantasised about killing myself – I could see no other way out...I concluded that suicide was the only option." Wan never did attempt to kill himself, stating a fear that he would be unsuccessful and the attempt would be regarded as "just another failing". Upon dropping out of his course and returning home, he confessed his feelings to his family, and was diagnosed as suffering from anorexia by a doctor. Under the supervision of his family he began to eat more and slowly increased to a healthier weight. Despite the sudden change, he had no problem with having been overweight, later reflecting: "I don't regret having been fat at all. I know how to throw jokes at myself and I use humour before anything else, and those skills allow me to do the chat-shows. So I'm thankful for that."[7] He even lamented that, after losing weight, he had to try harder to attract attention, saying that his weight had, to an extent, defined him.[5]

Career

He has worked with many celebrities including Bryan Ferry, All Saints, Damian Lewis, Erasure, Vanessa Mae, Wade Robson, Lauren Laverne, Wet Wet Wet, and Johnny Vaughan. He has offered his opinions to magazines, becoming a fashion consultant, and his work has been published internationally in several magazines including Tatler, Glamour, Times Style, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, The Face, Afisha Mir, Clash and People. He has worked with photographers such as Rankin, Mike Owen and Jason Joyce. He has also worked as an "on-screen" fashion consultant on many television shows including: MTV Shakedown (MTV Europe), GMTV (ITV), LK Today (ITV), Big Brother's Little Brother (Channel 4), Battle of the Sexes (BBC One), The Wright Stuff (Channel 5), Make Me a Grown Up (Channel 4/T4), The Xtra Factor (ITV2) and T4 (Channel 4).

In 2006, he was approached by Channel 4 and asked to present his own fashion show, How to Look Good Naked. In addition, he wrote his first book[9] to accompany the series, entitled How to Look Good Naked: Shop for Your Shape and Look Amazing!, that was published in April 2007. A second series was commissioned and was broadcast on Channel 4 in mid-2007. Along with the second series, he appeared on The New Paul O'Grady Show, in which he persuaded Paul O'Grady to strip "naked". From 2008 until 2010, he presented Gok's Fashion Fix, broadcast on Channel 4.

He wrote a book titled How to Dress: Your Complete Style Guide for Every Occasion which was released by HarperCollins on 1 October 2008. The book was praised by both Heat and Closer magazines for its sensitive and feel-good approach to a style guide.[10] He also has a lingerie range at UK-based firm SimplyYours.[11]

His next series Miss Naked Beauty, which he co-presented with Myleene Klass, was broadcast in October and November 2008.[12] The series attracted controversy after Wan denigrated semi-naked women, causing critics to question the motives behind the series; journalist Amanda Platell described it as "vulgarity masquerading as self-help".[5]

Wan presented a documentary which was first broadcast on 27 January 2009, entitled Too Fat Too Young, which examined overweight children in the UK. He reflected on his experience of being obese to help several teenagers. In 2010, he joined the celebrity panel on Channel 4's TV Book Club.[13]

In 2011, he presented a series entitled Gok's Clothes Roadshow on Channel 4, which was criticised for its gimmicks and similarities to Wan's previous shows.[14] This was the year he also released his much anticipated autobiography, Through Thick and Thin, published by Ebury Press.[15] He launched his first women’s clothing collection with Sainsbury's on 6 November 2011. His red wrap dress sold at a rate of one every 24 seconds.[16] The range ran into 24 collections and Wan was also their Style Ambassador.[17] In 2012 he starred in a new series entitled Gok's Teens: The Naked Truth on Channel 4 where he gave advice to teenagers about self-confidence, bullying, anxiety and eating disorders.[18]

In 2012 he presented a series entitled Gok Cooks Chinese on Channel 4 and later a book by the same title, Gok Cooks Chinese was published by Michael Joseph (Penguin Group UK).[19] In autumn 2012[when?], Wan presented Baggage, which was broadcast on Channel 4.[20]

Between 2013-2015 Wan was the Style & Quality Ambassador for Australian brand, Target. As part of his role, he presented an Australian TV show titled Target, Style The Nation, this one-hour program shows Gok transform the appearances of five women.[21]

He made his pantomime debut as the Man in the Mirror in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Birmingham Hippodrome in 2013[22] and since then has starred as the Fairy Gokmother in Cinderella opposite Brian Conley at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton (2014)[23] and Paul Zerdin at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth (2015).[24] In 2016 he played the part of Spirit of The Ocean in Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-Sea.[25] 2017 saw Gok reprising his role as Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at the Milton Keynes Theatre.[26]

In June 2014, Wan attended Royal Ascot for the first time as fashion presenter alongside racing presenter Clare Balding on Channel 4 Racing.[27]

Wan was a regular stand-in presenter for Phillip Schofield on ITV's daytime show ITV This Morning. He also presents various weekly fashion features, and travel documentaries, including a trip with his Dad to explore two different sides to Hong Kong, covering food, family and fashion.[28]

In 2016, Wan presented Fearne And Gok – Off The Rails[29] on ITVBe and Gok's Lunchbox[30] on ITV. Since August 2016, Gok has presented Gok's Fill Your House For Free for Channel 4 daytime, replacing Kirstie Allsopp.[31]

In 2017 Gok was a fashion expert on Made Over By on E4 [32] and in 2018 saw Wan as a panel member on Britain's Favourite Dogs: Top 100 on ITV [33]

Gok launched an Opera compilation CD in March 2017 called Gok's Diva’s (2017).[34] It was well received and reached Number one on the Official Classical Compilation charts.[35]

In both 2016 and 2017 Gok was the Ambassador for the American Express campaign, “Shop Small” where he championed small independent shops and the importance of shopping with local businesses.[36]

Wan is a big music lover and regularly DJs in the UK and abroad. His preferred music is House music and club classics but enjoys playing a varied range. In 2017 he embarked on a tour of Poland including Pacha Nightclub in Poznań.[37] He is represented by Noisy Kitchen Agency.[38]

In the autumn of 2017, Wan embarked on an 18-date stand-up tour of the UK called Naked and Baring All.[39] This was an auto-biographical show, where Wan discussed family, work, business, fashion and TV.

In 2018 Wan launched a new company, Beautiful Events and Productions Ltd[40] which offers high-end event management services – everything from creative production to logistics and event management.[41] The new venture started after Wan and his business partner Peter Ferguson[42] produced a 21-date tour around the UK and Ireland of Wan’s show entitled 'Fashion Brunch Club' (2016/17).[43][44] These shows are a live version of what Wan offered in his previous TV show How to Look Good Naked. The guests experience a 5 star Brunch, and catwalk show of clothes from their local clothing stores, along with a surprise audience makeover and Wan also provides a much coveted body-shape masterclass.[45]

In 2018 Wan, along with co-founders Lucy Mitchell and Sarah Lewis, founded and launched the innaugral Golden Chopsticks Awards.[46] The event took place on 16 April 2018 at the London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London and which Wan hosted, along with judges Ken Hom OBE, Simon Rimmer, Ching He Huang, Eric Yu, Fuchsia Dunlop, Jeremy Pang, Karen Barnes, Katy Tse Blair MBE, Sonny Leong CBE.[47]

In May 2018 Gok took a job in the animated preschool series, Luo Bao Bei, voicing the father and uncle of the main character. The show follows Luo Bao Bei, a bright and spirited seven-year-old girl with a vivid imagination, on a quest to understand the world around her. Viacom-owned UK terrestrial network Channel 5 has picked up the series for its morning kids’ block Milkshake. This is a 52×11’ series and was written by Dave Ingham (Shaun the Sheep, The Octonauts).[48][49]

Personal life

He currently resides in London.[50] In 2009 he remarked that he had slept with "21 and a half" men in his life, and that he had also slept with women. In the same interview he also claimed that he had lost his virginity to another boy whilst they were both under the legal age of consent.[51] His brother, Kwoklyn, is an accomplished martial artist who teaches Jeet Kune Do in Leicester.[7][52] He also has an older sister, Oilen, who is a child-care solicitor.[5]

Wan has been involved in various charitable projects, supporting anti-bullying charities Kidscape and Ditch the Label and launching a National Glasses Day with Specsavers to encourage everyone to wear their spectacles with pride.[53] As part of Children in Need 2008, Gok treated the actors of Coronation Street's Underworld factory to a glamorous makeover.[54] Gok also appeared in Comic Relief Does The Apprentice in March 2009. In 2014, he was named in the top 10 on the World Pride Power list.[55]

Wan has took part in dragon boat training with the Raging Dragons, and episode 3 of Gok Cooks Chinese features them paddling together in Royal Albert Dock and eating dim sum at the Yiban Chinese restaurant.[56]

Filmography

Year Title Role
2008–2010 Gok's Fashion Fix Presenter
How to Look Good Naked Presenter
2008 Miss Naked Beauty Presenter
2009 Gok Wan: Too Fat, Too Young Presenter
2010 TV Book Club Presenter
Sex and the City Premiere Special Panel member
2011 Gok's Clothes Roadshow Presenter
2012 Gok's Style Secrets Presenter
Hotel GB Bar manager
Baggage Presenter
Gok Cooks Chinese Presenter
Made in China Presenter
Gok's Teens: The Naked Truth Presenter
2014 Channel 4 Royal Ascot Fashion segment presenter
This Morning Fashion expert & stand-in presenter
Style The Nation 2014 Fashion expert & presenter
2016 Fearne & Gok: Off The Rails Co-presenter, with Fearne Cotton
Gok's Lunchbox Presenter
Gok's Fill Your House for Free Presenter
Gok's Chinese Take Away (National Geographic) Presenter
2017 Made Over By (E4) Fashion Expert
2018 Britains Favourite Dogs: Top 100.(ITV) Panel Member
Luo Bao Bei.(Channel 5) Voice of Luo Bao Bei’s father.

References

  1. ^ http://search.findmypast.co.uk/results/world-records/england-and-wales-births-1837-2006?firstname=kowklyn%20&lastname=wan&eventyear=1974&eventyear_offset=0&district=Leicester%20central&county=leicestershire
  2. ^ "Gok Wan's Biography". gokwan.com.
  3. ^ "Gok Cooks Chinese". channel4.com.
  4. ^ "Gok trivia". BBC Nordic. Archived from the original on 2014-09-01.
  5. ^ a b c d "Profile: Gok Wan". The Sunday Times. London. 26 October 2008. Retrieved 28 October 2008.
  6. ^ "Gok Wan on Ditch the Label – Bullied for Being Gay, Overweight and Chinese". Ditch the Label. UK. 12 February 2013. Archived from the original on 26 August 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d Freeman, Hadley (21 October 2008). "We are all beautiful!". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 21 October 2008.
  8. ^ Nathan, Sarah (14 May 2007). "TV Wan: I used to be a fatty". The Sun. UK. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
  9. ^ "Gok Wan books on Amazon.co.uk". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  10. ^ "How to Dress: Your Complete Style Guide for Every Occasion (Hardcover)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 21 October 2008.
  11. ^ Howden, Sarah (28 August 2008). "Gok Wan's gonna squeeze you in to shape". The Scotsman. UK. Retrieved 21 October 2008.
  12. ^ "Miss Naked Beauty". UK: Channel 4. Retrieved 20 October 2008.
  13. ^ "TV Book Club opens a new chapter". Western Telegraph. Newsquest. 28 December 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  14. ^ Heritage, Stuart (25 January 2011). "Is Gok's Clothes Roadshow a catwalk too far?". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  15. ^ "Ebury – Through Thick and Thin: My Autobiography". eburypublishing.co.uk.
  16. ^ "Gok for TU". sainsbury.co.uk.
  17. ^ "Gok Wan, Author at Tu At Sainsbury's". Tu At Sainsbury's. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
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  20. ^ "Baggage". Channel 4. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  21. ^ "Target and Gok Wan set to 'Style the Nation' in branded content TV special tonight on Seven". Campaign Brief Australia. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  22. ^ Laws, Roz (2013-12-06). "Gok Wan stars in Birmingham Hippodrome's Christmas panto". birminghammail. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  23. ^ "Cinderella (Mayflower)". WhatsOnStage.com. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  24. ^ "Gok Wan and Paul Zerdin to star in Cinderella – Theatre Royal Plymouth". Theatre Royal Plymouth. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  25. ^ "Robinson Crusoe & The Caribbean Pirates at the Cliffs Pavilion Review | What's Good To Do". whatsgoodtodo.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  26. ^ "Cinderella in review at Milton Keynes Theatre: Gok and Brian are a dream team". Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  27. ^ "Gok Wan joins Channel 4's Royal Ascot team as fashion presenter". Channel 4. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  28. ^ "ITV This Morning". itv.com.
  29. ^ "Don't Miss: Fearne And Gok – Off The Rails". www.itv.com. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  30. ^ "Gok's Lunchbox – Series 1 – Episode 7". The ITV Hub. Archived from the original on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  31. ^ http://www.channel4.com/info/press/news/gok-to-fill-channel-4-daytime-with-brand-new-fill-your-house-for-free
  32. ^ "Made Over By – All 4". www.channel4.com. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  33. ^ Gripper, Ann (2018-03-09). "Britain's top 100 favourite dog breeds – as voted for by the public". mirror. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  34. ^ Gok Wan- Gok's Divas, Warner Classics, 2017-03-10, retrieved 2018-04-10
  35. ^ "Gok Wan's Divas is this week's Number 1 classical compilation album". Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  36. ^ "Let's all Shop Small". American Express. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  37. ^ "Gok Wan DJ Tour". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  38. ^ "Gok Wan DJ". NOISY KITCHEN. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  39. ^ "Gok Wan Gets Naked And Bears All In His New Tour". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  40. ^ "Entertainment – Events – Production | Beautiful Events & Productions". www.beautifuleventsandproductions.com. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  41. ^ "Gok Wan cuts a dash with Scots events firm". Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  42. ^ Peter, Ferguson (April 19, 2018). "Mr". LinkdIn.com. Archived from the original on April 19, 2018. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  43. ^ "Fashion Brunch Club Gokwan.com". www.gokwan.com. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  44. ^ "Home". gokfashion.com. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  45. ^ "The Fashion Brunch Club, Gok Wan | Beautiful Events & Productions". www.beautifuleventsandproductions.com. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  46. ^ "The Golden Chopsticks Awards are coming! | Chinatown London". Chinatown London. 2018-01-22. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  47. ^ "I just voted for my favourite restaurant to win a 2018 Golden Chopsticks Award. Vote for yours #TheGCAs http://bit.ly/2CQnLD3". www.thegoldenchopsticksawards.com. Retrieved 2018-04-11. External link in |title= (help)
  48. ^ "Luo Bao Bei | Cloth Cat Animation". www.clothcatanimation.com. Retrieved 2018-05-11.
  49. ^ "C5 brings Luo Bao Bei to UK". C21media. Retrieved 2018-05-11.
  50. ^ Cooke, Rachel (2007-11-04). "In Gok we trust". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  51. ^ "Gok Wan: How I told my parents I was gay". London Evening Standard. UK. 3 August 2009. Archived from the original on 12 February 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  52. ^ Jackson, Lesley (2011). "Kwoklyn Wan Organiser of the Martial Arts Festival". Martial Edge. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  53. ^ Abrams, Corrine (2 May 2008). "Video: Gok Wan on finding glasses for your face shape". The Times. London. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  54. ^ "BBC Children In Need set for record". Metro. 15 November 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  55. ^ "World Pride Power List 2014". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 February 2015.
  56. ^ "Gok Cooks Chinese – Series 1: Episode 3". Channel 4. 4 June 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2014.

External links