Television presenter, DJ and movie buff Alex Zane is returning to his stand-up roots at the Comedy Bunker next Wednesday in the lead-up to this year's Edinburgh Festival. He spoke to SIBA MATTI about being a geek at school, courting controversy and getting tongue-tied when he met Hollywood hottie Angelina Jolie

DROPPING out of medical school was probably one of the best decisions that Alex Zane has ever made. Why? Because since turning his back on becoming a doctor, the 31-year-old has carved out a successful career in television and radio, having interviewed some of the most high-profile celebrities to walk the earth.

But Alex, originally from Leeds, didn't always have a reputation for being the king of cool.

"I went to medical school because I was the only kid to carry a briefcase at school, so I was very academic, but sadly that meant no one would invite me to their parties," he remembers.

"When I was living in Leeds, there was pretty much one comedy club, but then I arrived in London and there were hundreds.

"I started doing stand-up regularly and realised that studying medicine for eight hours a day then spending all night at a comedy club just wouldn't work, so I made my mind up that I wanted to make people laugh for a living."

Unfortunately, on one of Alex's first gigs, the audience failed to see his sense of humour and greeted him with a stony silence.

"The audience didn't find a single thing I said remotely funny - so I resorted to doing a Michael Caine impression which was

so appalling that people laughed out of pitiful sympathy, giving me an excuse to get off the stage after 10 minutes!"

Luckily, stints on student radio stations Rare FM and Wired FM, ahead of his impromptu departure from medical school, attracted the attention of none other than Ricky Gervais - who gave Alex his big break on radio station Xfm.

He recalls: "Ricky is a really nice chap. He asked me to come in and do a pilot and he gave me the graveyard show, from 2-5am, with just me and the freaks!"

Seven years later, Alex rose through the ranks to present Xfm's weekday breakfast show but hit a stumbling block after he broadcast Code of

Love, a self-penned 'joke' song which the station deemed to be offensive. He was subsequently suspended.

Alex, who maintains the song was misinterpreted, says: "It just seems so long ago now and I'm kind of over it. I had a week off, came back and it was never really mentioned again.

"Everyone has their own views on everything. Some people loved it and some people didn't, you can't please everyone all the time." And the controversy certainly didn't affect

Alex's career prospects.

Since leaving Xfm in April 2009, he has worked on numerous projects, including fronting television coverage of prestigious

music events, such as V Festival and the Orange Unsigned Act.

He has also come face-to-face with an enviable number of A-list stars, including actors Mickey Rourke, Burt Reynolds and Angelina Jolie.

And Alex admits that the cat got his tongue when meeting Brad Pitt's better half: "It was at the premiere party for Tomb Raider 2, and officially one of my most embarrassing interviews.

"I went over to say hello, and she said hello back, then there was a very long pause. Then all I could think to say was: 'Are you going to make Tomb Raider 3?'

"I have never been particularly good at talking to women at the best of times, let alone someone as beautiful as her, as from the age of nine to 19, my life was pretty bereft of female company," he said with a blush.

After becoming a household name on the airwaves and small screen - and even earning his own celebrity status - why the return to comedy? "It was never something I gave up on, and it has always been an aspect of my work on television and radio, it was just on the back

burner," explains Alex, who cites Eddie Izzard as one of his favourite stand-ups.

So what can audiences expect to see at the Comedy Bunker next week? "It will be a preview of my show at this year's Edinburgh Festival.

"It is called Just One More Thing, which is the catchphrase of one of my favourite television detectives, Columbo.

"I used to dress like him as I thought I looked like him, although now I realise I looked like a tiny flasher!

"It will be mainly focused on observational humour, my personal view on life. The show has been a lot of work and it still isn't quite finished. "I have a wall planner like I did when I was a student and I'm getting more and more scared, then excited, then really scared, then really excited!

"One thing's for sure - I won't be doing my Michael Caine impression again!"

Alex Zane visits the Comedy Bunker, in The Fairway, Ruislip, on July 28. The show starts at 9.30pm (doors 9.20pm). Tickets cost £12. To book, visit