Ross Richard “Rylan” Clark-Neal (born 25 October 1988) is an English presenter, television personality, singer and model. He is best known for finishing in fifth place on the ninth series of The X Factor, and winning Celebrity Big Brother in January 2013. He has also appeared on several comedy panel shows including Celebrity Juice and Sweat the Small Stuff.
In May 2013, Clark was announced as the new host of Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, replacing then alongside from 2014 Emma Willis who herself replaced Brian Dowling as the host of Big Brotherfollowing a revamp by Channel 5. In addition to this, Clark has had several presenting roles on the ITV Breakfast programme Daybreak as their stand-in showbiz editor and also guest presents sections of daytime television programme This Morning.
Early and personal life
Clark was born Ross Richard Clark on 25 October 1988 in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, to mother Linda Clark. His early career was working for Optical Express in Lakeside Shopping Centre. He is openly gay and supports same-sex marriage. He is also a voice for animals and, in June 2013, posed naked for an anti-fur PETA campaign to speak against the fur industry. He explained, “I just don’t agree with animals getting killed just to be worn.”
In 2003, Clark was an extra in the romantic comedy film Love Actually. He also acted as Rupert Grint’s body double in the Harry Potter films. In 2007, he applied for Big Brother 8, but, “the day I was going in, it got taken away from me because it got leaked to the press. It was devastating.”
Clark has been a part-time model since he was 16. It was during his early modelling career that he adopted the stage name “Rylan” as it was more unusual. He was in several Take That and Westlife tribute bands in Ibiza, and was also part of a Spanish boy band called 4bidden until January 2010.
In 2013 Clark-Neal began dating media personality and ex-police officer Dan Neal. On 18 September 2014 the couple announced their engagement and were married on 7 November 2015 in Essex.
2011: Signed by Katie Price
In 2011, Clark was a finalist on the Sky Living modelling competition Signed by Katie Price. He finished as runner-up behind Amy Willerton.
2012: The X Factor
In May 2012, Clark auditioned for the ninth series of The X Factor at The O2 Arena in London, in front of Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos and guest judge Rita Ora. He amused the judges and the studio audience with his friendly banter and bubbly personality, before singing a dubstep version of Des’ree’s “Kissing You”. Barlow said afterwards: “Rylan, love your personality – hate your voice.”, and Walsh admitted that while he felt Clark was fun, he was also “a bit worried”. Barlow gave Clark a “no”, but Ora, Contostavlos and Walsh all decided to say “yes” and put him through to bootcamp.
At bootcamp, Clark sang The Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha” (again with a dubstep twist), with former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger now a judge. After his performance, Barlow admitted: “[I] Think he’s going to haunt me throughout this competition.” Barlow was reluctant to send Clark through to judges’ houses, but the other three judges were in favour of him advancing. Clark was eventually put through into the boys category with Scherzinger as his mentor. At judges’ houses inDubai, Clark performed a stripped-back rendition of Rihanna’s “We Found Love” in front of Scherzinger and Ne-Yo. Scherzinger later put Clark through to live shows as one of her final three, along with James Arthur and Jahméne Douglas. She told him: “Rylan, it’s such a big risk… but I have to take it, and you are in my final three.”, and then Clark appeared to have an immense breakdown on the spot.
In the first week of the live shows, Clark sang “Gold” by Spandau Ballet and he was in the bottom two with Carolynne Poole the following night. Scherzinger backed Clark as he was her own act, while Barlow and Contostavlos opted to save Poole based on the final showdown performance. This left Walsh with the deciding vote, but he appeared unable to make up his mind. After hesitating for some time, he eventually said “I’m going to with Carolynne, I want to keep Carolynne.”, although he had to say who wanted to send home, not who he wanted to save. Eventually, after being pressured for an answer by presenter Dermot O’Leary, Walsh exclaimed “I want to take it to deadlock”. O’Leary then revealed that Clark had received more public votes and Poole was sent home, much to the disgust of her mentor, Barlow, who stormed off stage and later called Clark a “joke act” and “talentless”.
In week 2, Clark persisted to wind Barlow up by first performing part of Barlow’s “Back for Good”, and then claiming afterwards that he had booked him a cab in advance in case he stormed off stage again (to which Barlow responded “That’s funny cause I’ve had yours on hold for two weeks.”). That week Clark was put through to week three on the public vote. In week five, he was in the bottom two again with Kye Sones, but was saved by the public vote after the judges’ votes were deadlocked. In week 7, Clark revealed on The Xtra Factor that his psychic had told him he would make it to week 7 of the competition before leaving, but the following night he was put through to by the public vote, before being eliminated by the judges in week 8, with only his mentor Scherzinger voting to save him over Union J.
2013–present: Celebrity Big Brother and television career
After leaving The X Factor, Clark joined Daybreak as a guest entertainment presenter in December 2012.
Clark became a housemate in the eleventh series of Celebrity Big Brother in January 2013. He was the second celebrity to enter the Big Brother House. On launch night, he and Italian jockey Frankie Dettori selected which celebrities would join them in the House and who would be banished to the Basement. It was revealed mid-way through the series that, contrary to the show’s rules of staying in the Big Brother House throughout the series, Clark had been leaving the house each Sunday to rehearse for The X Factor Live Tour, which began a day after the live final on 25 January. He made it to the final five, alongside Neil “Razor” Ruddock, Claire Richards, Ryan Moloney, and Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt (Heidi & Spencer being counted as a single housemate). Clark was announced as the winner during the live final, after which he broke down into tears like he did during the X Factor judges’ houses.
Since the tenth series of The X Factor, Clark-Neal has provided all the gossip from the show on This Morning. He also acted as a Hub presenter until its removal from the show in 2014. Since late 2015 he has also been credited as the main relief presenter. He is most notably relief presented with Ruth Langsford when co-presenter Eammon Holmes was off for 10 weeks. He has also presented with others including Lorraine Kelly and Holly Willoughby. On 8 July 2016, Rylan made ITV history alongside husband Dan Neal when they became the first gay couple to present an episode of ITV’s This Morning.
In October 2015, Clark-Neal co-presented a special edition of Most Haunted Live with Jamie East on Really. It became the highest rated show the channel had ever seen, out performing Channel 4 and 5 in its time slot.
In May 2016, Clark-Neal has presented his own prime time chat show for Channel 5 called Up Late with Rylan.
It was confirmed on 1 July 2016 that Clark-Neal would co-host The Xtra Factor Live alongside Matt Edmondson. This will be the second time a former X Factor contestant has co-hosted the series, the first being Olly Murs, who co-hosted from 2011 to 2012.
In January 2017, it was announced that Clark-Neal would present a new daytime game show for ITV called Babushka. He will also host ITV2 panel show Codswallop.