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Third of state schools in cash deficit

School playgroundImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption There are 9,000 schools in deficit, according to an answer revealed by ministers

“We’re trying to operate on a shoestring,” says Tim Rawling, chair of governors of a Gloucestershire school.

Staple Hill Primary School is expecting to go into budget deficit this year, with fears of cuts and job losses.

It will not be alone as there were more than 9,000 state schools in England in a similar position last year, according to figures revealed by ministers.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said the government wanted schools to “have the resources they need”.

The figures were revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question about school finances, against a background of warnings about budget cuts.

‘Frustrating’

The government’s figures showed there were more than 9,400 schools which had been in deficit in 2015-16, more than a third of the total.

At Staple Hill, Mr Rawling said there were concerns about whether such budget pressures would lead to staff cuts.

“It’s frustrating, we’re not being given enough money,” he said.

The reply from Mr Gibb said such a deficit within the year was “not an issue in itself unless it is symptomatic of a trend towards a cumulative deficit”.

“Schools may draw on their reserves in a particular year – for example to spend on capital projects,” he added.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption School leaders have been running a campaign over funding shortages

But the figures show that almost 4,000 schools have been in deficit for two years, nearly 1,600 for three years, more than 400 for four years and 100 for five years.

The question was put by Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Layla Moran, who said: “It is shocking to see thousands of schools across the country reporting budget deficits year after year, and perhaps more shocking still that the minister has played down the issue by claiming in-year deficits are not a cause for concern.

“It should be seriously concerning to this government that 4,000 schools have now reported deficits for two years in a row, and that nearly 4,000 more schools have in-year deficits this year than did five years ago.

“We know parents are being asked to contribute to school funds out of their own pockets, that schools are considering closing early and that subjects are being dropped from the curriculum, as they try to make ends meet,” said Ms Moran.

A coalition of teachers’ unions has also warned that funding problems have not been resolved – publishing figures that 88% of individual schools will have lost funding in real terms between 2015 and 2020.

Head teachers’ leader Geoff Barton said ministers needed to “recognise that the overall level of education funding is totally inadequate”.

In his parliamentary answer, schools minister Mr Gibb said the government wanted to ensure schools “have the resources they need to deliver a high quality education for their pupils” and would have an additional £1.3bn up to 2020, as part of a new funding formula.

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127 PICTURES: T&A Camera Club members get in on the action for photography competition

AMATEUR photographers in Bradford have been getting in on the action to enter the Telegraph & Argus Camera Club’s latest monthly prize competition.

The judges – Telegraph & Argus editor Nigel Burton and T&A photographer Mike Simmonds – had the difficult task of narrowing down hundreds of entries submitted via the club’s Facebook group on the August competition theme of ‘action’.

A selection of their favourite entries, including the winner and runners up can be seen in the gallery above.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN THE TELEGRAPH & ARGUS CAMERA CLUB HERE.

Announcing the winner, Mike said: “Rais Hassan’s frozen Total Warrior mud jump shot is fantastic! It has detail upon detail. The more you look, the more you see.”

“With action photography, the phrase ‘peak of the action’ is often used. In the case of this picture, a moment earlier and there would be more girl and less splash. A moment later, too much splash and not enough face. This is the peak of that moment and thanks to the very fast shutter speed used by Rais, we can enjoy the detail of each and every droplet.”

Winner Rais Hassan, who is the president of Bradford Photographic Society, won £50 and a large canvas print of his winning picture.

Ian Bale’s action-packed shot of dancers at Leeds West Indian Carnival was a strong contender on the shortlist. Mike said: “The carnival is about movement, colour and faces, and this image captures all of them. It’s almost texture it’s so deep with detail.”

Of Alex Daniel’s shot of a trials bike rider, Mike said: “I loved the eyes in this image. The windows on the soul are so important – being able to not only see the mechanical action, but imagine the mental action combine to make a powerful image.”

Mike chose Deborah Clarke’s image of a girl on a swing because “it captures not just a simple action, but combines so many moments”.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN THE TELEGRAPH & ARGUS CAMERA CLUB HERE.

Gemma Fox’s colourful image of a ball in a fountain also captured Mike’s imagination. “The chaos of the water spraying off this ball happens just for a moment, and Gemma’s image stops the water just enough to capture the movement,” said Mike.

Water was a popular theme among the hundreds of entries in the competition. Ian Bale’s second shortlisted entry – a canoeist grappling with rushing water – epitomised the theme of the competition.

Of Mark Bagshaw’s elegant image of a swan taking off, Mike said: “At some point the swan goes from a frantic paddling creature to a mighty, silent queen of the air, and Mark has captured that transition perfectly.”

Paul Mayes’ dramatic shot with its muted colour palette was a favourite with the judges. Mike said: “Carefully backlighting the dust and freezing the hair creates a beautiful image.”

On Shakeel Amini’s in-car shot, Mike said: “This image has two sides. The inside is a calm world bathed in gentle red and blue lights, outside is a sharp clean white intense light with movement and speed. I enjoyed the combination in this image by Shakeel Amini.”

The T&A Camera Club has more than 550 members in its Facebook group.

September’s competition theme is ‘Abstract’.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN THE TELEGRAPH & ARGUS CAMERA CLUB HERE.

Yoga and butt lifts

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jenifer AnistonImage copyright Reuters/Getty

Did your day begin with a workout, meditation and a breakfast worthy of an Instagram showing – all before getting to work? If not, you’ll need to shape up to make it on to the glossy pages of magazines.

We’ve all rolled our eyes while reading those celebrity day-in-the-life interviews – with the inexplicably early starts, heavy exercise and distinct lack of caffeine as standard.

Beauty editor of Red Magazine, Rosie Green, is one of the latest to share her morning rituals. Hint: there’s not a soggy cornflake in sight.

After rising at 06:00, there is an early morning run, “lots of cuddles”, “pimped-up porridge” – think fruit and nuts rather than golden syrup – a school drop-off and “just enough time to tong my hair”.

This insight led fellow parent and children’s author, Pip Jones, to think about her own routine.

“04:30: I wake up because I need a massive wee,” she wrote. “05:30: I flop out of bed and go downstairs to make builders’ tea. It tastes like crap without sugar in, so I put loads of sugar in it. 06:30: We start the day doing some grunting and arguing. I feel really grateful that no-one is biting anyone else.”

Similarly, Twitter user @Tillyecl’s routine involved less “pimping” and more Marmite.

But others manage to find the time for far more than dressing or feeding yourself.

A LinkedIn post from a US professional called Mark Sloan went viral after he revealed how he spends the three hours before he heads to the office at 08:15. The tight schedule included “language learning” and drinking a whole litre of water.

Early starts seem to be a non-negotiable for many successful people. After all, how would businessman Sir Richard Branson fit in a spot of kite-surfing before breakfast unless he got up at 05:00?

The Virgin founder, who lives in the British Virgin Islands, also said being an early riser means he can check his emails “before most of the world logs on”.

Most of the world that is, except for supermodel Cindy Crawford, who’s awake and checking emails at 06:30 before her first cup of green tea. Then it’s workout time.

“Often I’ll take a Jacuzzi outside for 10 minutes first; it’s like my meditation,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. Then there’s cardio, 10 minutes on a trampoline and another 10 running stairs. By 08:00 it’s time for her second mug of green tea to match a green “shake”.

Image copyright cindycrawford Instagram
Image caption Supermodel Cindy likes her breakfast juice how she likes her tea: green

It’s not just celebrities, but royalty too, that are slaves to the alarm clock.

“I get up around 06:45 to start exercising by 7,” Princess Eugenie of York said. “I go to the park from 7 to 8. I do circuits, which I love because they’re quick… Or I go with my best friend to this amazing, women-only gym called Grace Belgravia. If I need to pick up some groceries, I go to Waitrose, right next to my gym.”

Music royalty Simon Cowell keeps pumped to his prime with the help of 500 daily push-ups.

“Then I have a steam and a bath, but I always have breakfast in bed,” he added. It remains unclear whether Cowell prepares this himself.

Getting back into bed for a bacon sarnie is not an option for US actor Jennifer Aniston. She begins her day with hot water and lemon, before 20 minutes of meditation.

Breakfast is a shake – which involves something called maca powder and “dynamic greens” – which is followed by a workout to rival most people‘s weekly exercise: spin for half an hour, yoga for 40 minutes and then the gym.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption 500 push-ups a day give Simon Cowell the X-factor

For actor-turned-lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow, multi-tasking is key to morning productivity.

“Did dance aerobics for 45 minutes then all of the butt lifts and the like. Rushed upstairs to have a shower, doing my post workout stretch while the conditioner was doing its magic on my hair to combine activities,” she wrote on her website Goop.

But very occasionally these interviews offer some common ground from a world more familiar to mere mortals.

Author and columnist, Caitlin Moran confessed most mornings she wakes thinking: “‘UGH this is too early. This is GHASTLY.”

“I pack the kids off at 8.30am, then go swimming for 45 minutes. The bottom of my local pool is endlessly fascinating. Clumps of hair moving like jellyfish; scrunchies; leaves. I once thought I saw a poo there,” she told Stylist magazine.

New beat

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Media captionPolice force to appoint commander in direct entry scheme

“Oh mum you look like a cop!” said Maggie Blyth’s daughter, seeing her in uniform for the first time.

But unlike many new cops, Maggie is not about to begin years of grinding out beat shifts as a constable.

She is getting ready to command more than a hundred police officers and staff.

The BBC‘s Daily Politics was given exclusive access to a new recruit becoming part of one of the most controversial reforms in the history of policing.

After just over a year‘s training, Maggie Blyth is to become Portsmouth District Commander, Hampshire’s first Direct Entry superintendent.

She previously had a 30-year career in child protection.

“One colleague described it as a bit of a handbrake turn,” Maggie tells me.

“She said, you’ve got retirement coming up, couldn’t you just settle into those plans? But I was looking for another challenge, I think I had something to offer.”

‘Much to be gained’

The government’s Direct Entry scheme allows talented civilians to join the police in senior roles.

It breaks a 180-year tradition of officers with “mud on their boots” gradually rising through police ranks.

Maggie addresses this head on: “Before I joined, many of the questions I asked of colleagues in policing and elsewhere, were around credibility.”

“I won’t have some of the specialist skills of someone who has walked the beat. What I do bring is a range of other skills and experiences that I think compliment where UK policing is going.”

During her career Maggie Blyth dealt with some of the most challenging child protection issues facing authorities.

In Oxford, she chaired the safeguarding children board which made headlines after revealing that 300 children were believed to have been sexually exploited in the city over a number of years, by gangs of mostly Asian men.

Similar cases in Rotherham, Newcastle, and Rochdale showed vulnerable youngsters had been failed by the authorities.

Image caption Maggie Blyth became a superintendent after 30 years in child protection

“Policing is really changing,” Maggie says. “I think there has to be a much better join up between the different NHS health organisations, between local government and policing to find a joint solution to some of these continuing issues facing our communities.”

The College of Policing received more than 2,000 applications for this year’s Direct Entry scheme.

Recruits have come from banking, Army, and Home Office backgrounds – to name a few.

But not all police forces are receptive. Only nine forces are looking to take on new Direct Entry recruits in 2017.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd believes there is “much to be gained” from bringing outside talent into policing.

She pointed out in a speech to the National Police Chief’s Council last year that there were six people who passed the Direct Entry superintendent assessment who were not offered posts, saying: “That is policing’s loss.”

‘Split second’ decisions

Perhaps unsurprisingly from within an institution with a culture of discipline and earning one’s rank, there have been concerns.

John Apter from the Hampshire Police Federation told the BBC Daily Politics Programme: “Whilst the Direct Entry recruits are highly motivated and very gifted individuals, they don’t really have the concept of policing to fall back on.

“You get the knowledge, and the understanding of policing by walking in the same shoes as those police officers have done”

He believes it could even prove dangerous.

While superintendents take on a strategic, managerial role, John Apter says inspector level recruits could be left particularly exposed, because they must make critical operational decisions under pressure.

“At 3am on a Saturday morning, whether that’s a firearms incident, whether it’s a hostage type situation, or a large scale public order incident, you don’t have a bank of experts on hand to give you advice.”

“You have to make those decisions in a split second. You have to rely on your experience. I have serious concerns that that will be a problem.”

“Direct Entry needs to be evaluated. It’s costing a fortune. Is it good value for money? I’m not convinced it is.”

Portsmouth presents a wide range of policing challenges.

From alcohol-fuelled violence, to previous problems with radicalisation and some racial tensions, the city is a busy patch.

Maggie Blyth has been completing a series of placements with front-line officers, acting as a sergeant and inspector, making arrests and attending a variety of operations such as drugs raids.

While filming we accompany her to a tower block to follow up on a neighbourhood dispute.

She has been under continuous assessment and will have to sit final exams before becoming Portsmouth’s district commander for real.

Respect

I ask her whether she really thinks she has been able to cram in all the knowledge and experience she’ll need, in just a year?

“One of the things said to me,” Maggie explains, “is that you’re already 80% a superintendent in terms of the leadership skills you’ve brought from elsewhere, 20% is in-depth operational policing knowledge and understanding.”

“This last year has equipped me with detailed knowledge of what it’s like to be policing in Portsmouth and across Hampshire from a range of specialist aspects of policing. I think in terms of the advice and support I will also have from colleagues, that equips me well.”

So what about officers under her? Will she have their respect? Some may have been waiting years themselves for promotion.

“You’d have to ask them,” Maggie says. “I’ve had a very strong welcome. Peers have said to me phone any time, even if it’s 4am in the morning.

“I’m sure, quite rightly, there will be questions asked about new ways of entry into policing and how effective that is.

“My own personal view is that having different routes into policing is positive. We should be diverse”

Changing long-held traditions in policing was always going to be tough. Many have doubts about Direct Entry, and Maggie Blyth knows an excellent track record from her previous career can only get her so far. She will need to prove her worth.

But an officer who accompanies us, confides in me off camera, saying: “Everyone wants her to succeed. Whatever people say about it beforehand, once someone is in there with you, you want them to succeed. That is policing. We’re a team.”

Derry gaelic player Ciara McGurk gets final proposal

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Media captionRyan McCloskey proposed to Ciara McGurk during a post-match interview

It’s not every day you play in an All-Ireland gaelic football final. And it’s not every day you get engaged.

On Sunday, Derry ladies footballer Ciara McGurk rolled the two into one.

Despite her team grasping a draw from the jaws of victory against Fermanagh in Dublin, there was still a moment of glory after the final whistle.

During a post-match interview with the Irish broadcaster TG4, her boyfriend got down behind her on one knee and popped the question.

Ryan McCloskey, a goalkeeper for Westbank United, had carefully orchestrated the magic moment.

“I was chatting to the presenter and he mentioned Ryan’s name, it didn’t click at all,” Miss McGurk told the BBC.

“And then he says: ‘Turn around, he’s standing behind you.’

“And there he was, he was down on one knee!

“I just panicked and screamed.”

Image copyright Inpho
Image caption Megan Devine’s second-half goal seemed to have given Derry an unassailable lead

Only a short time before, Miss McGurk had been celebrating on the pitch after scoring a first-half goal.

“It was a major shock because it’s been a dream for me to play in Croke Park and to get a goal and for him to propose to me – it was just amazing,” she said.

“Unbelievable feeling. I was just over the moon.”

Little did Miss McGurk know, but some of her family were in on the act.

“My dad knew as he asked him for permission, and my mum found out the night before as my dog ate the ring box,” she said.

Despite all the personal drama, Miss McGurk is already getting her mind focused on Derry’s All-Ireland final replay.

“In two weeks time I’ve another All Ireland final to go to again so I’m all over the place, I’m a whirlwind of emotions.

“Fermanagh beat us four times this year so there’s no reason why we can’t beat them next time.

“Whoever thinks somebody is going to get proposed to at Croke park, it’s not every day that happens.

“This morning me and a few of the girls are watching the game back, so right now we’re forgetting about the proposal and wondering how we didn’t win.”

Image copyright Twitter

The day also saw some records smashed.

Supporters for the junior, intermediate and senior clashes all added up to make it the highest-attended major women’s sporting event in Europe this year.

It Surpasses the 35,271 who travelled to Wembley for the Women’s FA Cup final in May.

Is your Bradford postcode in car crash scam UK top 30?

FIVE postcode areas of Bradford are among the UK’s top 30 ‘crash for cash’ hotspots in the county, according to a study.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) has ranked the top 30 postcode districts for fraudulent scams.

‘Crash for cash’ scams are where a fraudster, or group of fraudsters, stages an accident by deliberately causing a collision on the road, solely for the purpose of financial gain. The IFB’s rankings also include incidents where fraudsters have damaged their own vehicle, often with a sledge-hammer or blunt object, to make it appear as if it has been involved in an accident.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The UK's top 30 postcode areas for crash for cash' scams have been revealed. Picture: Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB)

The BD8 postcode, featuring Manningham, Girlington, White Abbey, Four Lane Ends, Whetley, Westbourne Green, West Park, Lower Grange, Rhodesway, Crossley Hall, Fairweather Green, Belle Vue, and BD9, including Frizinghall, Heaton, Daisy Hill, Haworth Road Estate, Chellow Heights and Chellow Grange, were ranked joint fourth.

Meanwhile BD3, including Barkerend, Bradford Moor, Thornbury, Eastbrook, Pollard Park, parts of Laisterdyke, Undercliffe, Wapping, finished in seventh place.

The BD7 postcode, which includes Great Horton, Lidget Green, Scholemoor, Horton Bank Top, Horton Grange, was 12th in the list, while BD5, which covers Bankfoot, Little Horton, West Bowling, Canterbury, Marshfields, Ripleyville, was ranked 21st.

These criminals often target innocent road users to profit from fraudulent insurance claims, putting motorist’s lives at risk.

Fraudulent motor claims submitted following the accident can also result in false personal injury and credit hire claims.

Such scams are estimated to cost the industry £336 million each year, with a single collision potentially worth tens of thousands of pounds.

Birmingham has the highest level of representation on the IFB’s map, with ten postcode districts featuring, including the top three postcodes.

Councillor Shabir Hussain (Lab, Manningham, which is in the BD8 postcode) said it was unfair that the crash for cash scams have seen innocent driver’s insurance premiums rise.

He said: “These are unbelievable figures.

“No wonder people have huge insurance premiums in our area.

“It’s very shocking and innocent people are having to pay more.”

Cllr Mohammed Amran (Lab, Heaton, within the BD9 postcode) said it has been a problem highlighted to him by residents at a number of ward councillor surgeries.

He said: “We are working closely with then police to stop these scams in our area.

“The high insurance premium figures because of these scams are killing people.

“It’s really unfair for good drivers to be affected by it.

“It has been raised to us a number of times by members of the public.

“These scams are causing us all havoc.”

Jason Potter, head of investigations at IFB, said “Bradford has five postcodes that feature in our top 30 postcode district hotspots data, three of which are in the top ten, indicating that there have been a higher number of crash for cash incidents in these areas.

“However, crash for cash is a nationwide problem that cannot be ignored.

“Last year, this type of fraud cost £336m, which is not an insignificant amount, and shows there is still a lot of work to be done.”

The IFB says it is working closely with police and insurers to clamp down on these criminals and ultimately taking them off the roads and putting them behind bars.

Two pupils taken to hospital after firework set off in school

TWO pupils were taken to hospital after a firework was set off in a Bradford school.

The incident took place at The Grange Technology College, Haycliffe Lane, and the pupils, one boy and one girl who are both in year eight, were taken to hospital by ambulance as a precaution.

The child believed to be responsible has been identified but a school spokesman said today that it cannot make any further comment at this stage due to ongoing disciplinary proceedings and the related police investigation.

He added the school is contacting the pupils’ parents about their condition.

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The school is also monitoring social media, carrying out bag searches and holding meetings with parents following the incident on Friday, September 22.

Meanwhile, headteacher Alison Mander has criticised black market fireworks and demanded that action is taken to ensure shops who sell fireworks do not allow them to fall into the hands of children.

She said: “Bringing fireworks into school and setting them off puts everyone at risk and I call on those who think it’s acceptable to sell or supply young people fireworks to think again.

“The law is clear; young people should be protected not exploited. I am asking our families to be vigilant. Report local shops or businesses if you know they are selling fireworks to young people.

“Talk with your children in the weeks running up to bonfire night on November 5, to reinforce the message that fireworks are dangerous, and when in the wrong hands are extremely hazardous.”

Two students taken to hospital after firework set off in school

TWO students were taken to hospital after a firework was set off in a Bradford school.

The incident took place at The Grange Technology College, Haycliffe Lane, and the students, one boy and one girl who are both in year eight, were taken to hospital by ambulance as a precaution.

The student believed to be responsible has been identified but a school spokesman said today that it cannot make any further comment at this stage due to ongoing disciplinary proceedings and the related police investigation.

He added the school is contacting the students’ parents about their condition.

The school is also monitoring social media, carrying out bag searches and holding meetings with parents following the incident on Friday, September 22.

Meanwhile, headteacher Alison Mander has criticised black market fireworks and demanded that action is taken to ensure shops who sell fireworks do not allow them to fall into the hands of children.

She said: “Bringing fireworks into school and setting them off puts everyone at risk and I call on those who think it’s acceptable to sell or supply young people fireworks to think again.

“The law is clear; young people should be protected not exploited. I am asking our families to be vigilant. Report local shops or businesses if you know they are selling fireworks to young people.

“Talk with your children in the weeks running up to bonfire night on November 5, to reinforce the message that fireworks are dangerous, and when in the wrong hands are extremely hazardous.”

Brexit: Fresh round of negotiations to take place

EU and UK flagsImage copyright PA

Brexit Secretary David Davis will lead the UK team of negotiators into their fourth round of talks with EU officials in Brussels on Monday.

It will be the first opportunity for the European delegation to respond to Theresa May’s speech in Florence.

Mrs May aimed to restore momentum to a process that was stalling.

Key figures such as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier described her tone as constructive, which should improve the atmosphere of the talks.

But EU negotiators will be expecting more detail on, for example, what payments the UK is prepared to make as it departs.

Next month, EU leaders are due to decide on so-called separation issues – including the rights of citizens, the Irish border and the “divorce bill” or financial settlement – to allow talks to move on to the future of the bilateral trade relationship, as the UK would like.

For the moment, the odds seem to be against that test being passed at the first opportunity, said BBC Europe correspondent Kevin Connolly.

Budget black hole

In her speech on Friday, Mrs May offered to continue paying into the EU for a two-year transition after the UK leaves in 2019 to ensure the bloc is not left with a budget black hole.

The prime minister sought to reassure member states that they would not lose out financially during the current EU budget period, which runs to 2020.

She also confirmed there would be no restrictions on EU citizens coming to the UK during the transition period, but after Brexit they would be registered as they arrived.

Mr Davis has insisted that Mrs May’s speech was not influenced by a 4,000-word article by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in the run-up to the event, setting out his own vision for Brexit.

The speech “had been coming for a long time”, he said.

Meanwhile, the UK and Scottish governments are due to hold a fresh round of talks on Brexit in London.

Scotland‘s Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Brexit minister Mike Russell will meet First Secretary of State Damian Green to discuss concerns about the EU Withdrawal Bill.

And Mrs May holds talks in Downing Street with Irish premier Leo Varadkar, in her first meeting with an EU leader since the Florence speech.

Vlogging and impressions

Joe Sugg
Image caption Joe Sugg has just released his third graphic novel of a trilogy

Joe Sugg may be one of YouTube’s biggest stars (and the brother of another – Zoella), but he still doesn’t see himself as a celebrity.

“You could probably ask any YouTuber in the UK if they’d class themselves as a celebrity, and I guarantee they’d all say no,” he tells BBC News.

“And I think that’s because we never knew it would get this big, we never knew it would become this scale, at all.

“If you’ve got someone who wants to be a singer and actor, they already know the pros and cons of that job, whereas we never knew we were getting into something this big, so it’s been harder for us to sort of deal with and go along with it.”

While he may be slightly embarrassed to admit it, Joe is one of countless YouTubers who have reached the big leagues of fame.

Image caption Joe’s sister Zoe (Zoella) has appeared on a celebrity edition of Bake Off

Earlier this year, he, Zoella and her boyfriend Alfie Deyes had to leave the launch of a pop-up shop in Covent Garden because the sheer number of fans that had turned up caused security concerns.

Today, Joe is speaking to the BBC at Forbidden Planet in London as he launches his new book Username: Uprising – the third in a trilogy of graphic novels (the first became the fastest-selling ever for a debut writer in the genre).

He talked to us about writing, vlogging, roof-thatching, and trying to perfect his Donald Trump impression.


1. Joe hasn’t written the book on his own

There was a bit of a palaver when Zoella released her debut novel Girl Online under her own name in 2014, only for it to emerge later that she had co-authored it with a ghostwriter.

Joe is avoiding any such issues by being open about the fact that he works with a team on his series of graphic novels, including a colourist and illustrator.

“I would’ve liked to have drawn it myself obviously, but time wise, because I’ve got so many projects going on, three channels to run, I knew it would be impossible, but the great thing with a graphic novel is that it’s a collaborative process,” he says.

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Media captionJoe Sugg: Graphic novel provides ‘escapism’

“We’re all in contact, they’d send me over a few pages at a time and I’d go through and be like ‘This is great, but can we change this slightly, or change the expression on this face’, and it’s been great going back and forth and getting a feel of it being a team effort.”

2. He thinks it’s sensible for YouTubers to branch out of YouTube

“I think a lot of YouTubers will go into different avenues because I think that’s the smart thing to do – you can’t just rely on the one thing,” he says.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen to social media, it could be all shut down one day – not that it will I hope, but you never know.

“So I think it’s important to try out different things. So if you’ve ever had an interest or a hobby, like me with the graphic novels, explore that, see what you can do with it.”

3. He’s got his sister to thank for getting into vlogging

“Zoe started off as a blogger, didn’t want to be on camera – and that eventually turned into vlogging. I was aware of what she was doing at the time, but I was still working five days a week as a roof thatcher,” Joe explains.

“So she was starting to get bigger on YouTube and she showed me a lot of the male YouTubers, like Alfie [Deyes], Marcus [Butler], Jim [Chapman], and I’d watch them and think ‘This is the sort of stuff I can do, and have been doing throughout my childhood’.

Image caption Zoe was named best British vlogger at BBC Radio 1’s Teen Awards in 2014

“I appeared in one of Zoe’s videos, that was my entrance to YouTube, and the majority of the comments were saying ‘Joe should start his own channel’, and that for me was like, okay yeah, if they want it, I’ll do it.”

4. He has no plans to release an autobiography

YouTubers have been cranking out books almost as quickly as videos in recent years, many of them autobiographies – but Joe doesn’t have any plans to join them just yet.

“I would love to release a memoir at a later date. I don’t think it’s right for me yet,” he says.

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Media captionJoe Sugg: An autobiography ‘not right for me yet’

“Although I’m 26 now, I just feel like I want to make the book thicker. But I can understand why a lot of YouTubers have done that – because we don’t have ordinary lives.”

He jokes: “I’ve got lots of fun stories to tell but I think I’ll wait it out, wait until I can grow facial hair, so could be quite a while off yet!”

5. He misses working as a roof thatcher

Joe’s YouTube channel – Thatcher Joe – isn’t a tribute to our former prime minister, but rather a reference to his pre-vlogging days as a roof thatcher.

“It was very much an arty job, making the ornate ridges, the patterns, I did genuinely love the job,” he says.

“It was such an important part of what I do now.

“There are a lot of YouTubers who have always thought ‘I want to be a YouTuber’, and they’ve gone into it and gotten carried away with that side of it, whereas because I’ve worked and know what it’s like to do a normal job…

“I don’t know what it is, but it kind of helps you keep it real, and know how good you’ve got it.”

6. Joe’s musical talents are no threat to Ed Sheeran

“A lot of my audience wanted me to sing, and I was like, why not give it a go – because you never know.

“But nobody heard it,” he laughs.

“Which is great; it’s been done and dusted, had a go, decided it’s not for me, moved on to the next thing.”

Image copyright Getty Images

7. His impressions are both the most popular and most unpopular videos he does

One of Joe’s most popular series of videos is his impressions – usually of fictional characters from shows like Family Guy and Sesame Street.

“I like to think of ideas which can become a series,” he says.

“I think it’s really important to create structures and formats within my videos; things I can to return to later on.

“It’s almost like a safety net of having a string of ideas which have more longevity than just a one-off.”

But impressions are also some of the most difficult to get right, with Joe describing them as “my most criticised videos”.

“There’s always one saying ‘Oh that was a bit dodgy’. I never really get that much criticism on my videos, but on the impressions videos, you do get a lot of people that are like ‘That wasn’t as great as it could be’, because it’s something where they can compare it to something else.”

8. But there’s one impression he still hasn’t been able to perfect

“I really wanted to learn how to do Donald Trump properly, purely because of that space of time [when he was elected],” Joe says.

Image copyright AFP

“I thought, there’s so much comedy you can get out of that, mastering people who are in the ‘now’, whoever’s got big exposure in the media at the moment, to learn them, but it takes time.

“By the time I’ve mastered them it’s like ‘Great, they’re irrelevant now’, so by the time I’ve mastered Donald Trump he won’t even be president anymore.”

Username: Uprising by Joe Sugg is out now


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