Alex Manners is a young man with autism who has a burning desire to become a professional television presenter.  Many people with autism may consider this kind of ‘in front of camera’ role as daunting and something they feel would be too hard for them considering their difficulties with anxiety. Not so for Alex! Read our article to find out why.

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There are many people with Autism who have found that, despite their challenges, they can adopt a role or persona and perform well in front of people or in front of a camera. For example Chris Packham, Guy Martin, Alan Gardener and other performing artists like Susan Boyle and Daryll Hannah. Alex was inspired by these people and decided that his autism could actually be turned into a positive.

 

Alex has a form of Autism called Asperger’s Syndrome. For Alex, he believes this to be the reason as to why he is so quirky, creative and different and thinks these qualities will enable him to break into the TV world.

 

 

Another huge passion of Alex is football. He is obsessed with football and his whole bedroom is covered in football memorabilia. His quest is to visit all 92 grounds within the English Football League and he is currently on ground 72. He also films all of the Solihull Moors home games for BT Sport. Alex has written articles in a number of publications.

 

 

Alex has been interviewed a number of times on the television and radio about various different topics from his Asperger’s, through to his Top Gear Audition. He has been interviewed 3 times on BBC WM, BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, Big News at Big centre TV (now called Made in Birmingham) and on the Antiques Roadshow. He has also written many articles on what it is like living with Asperger’s for various magazines such as the Autism Parenting magazine and the SEN magazine.

 

 

Alex has always loved wearing bright and colourful clothes and at school this was always an issue. Alex says "If I am wearing colourful clothes then I feel that I can conquer anything. However, if I have to wear dark coloured clothes then I can become quite depressed to the point where I would rather not carry out the particular activity or attend the particular event. In 6th form a lot of the younger children started calling me 'Rainbow Man'" For Alex, this simply led him to create his own children’s show called “Rainbow Man” which was reviewed by the Cbeebies commissioning team.

 

 

Alex knew that he wanted to do a job where he could express his personality and his dress sense. He decided to start a YouTube channel and as soon as he filmed his very first video he knew that he really enjoyed being in front of the camera.

 

However it was not until he attended a TV Presenter training course at the Custard Factory in 2015 that he really knew that being a TV Presenter was the job for him.

Alex has been a runner at Big Centre TV (now called Made in Birmingham), shadowed one of the presenters for a week on BBC WM and had a week down in London at BT Sports. At BT Sports he not only got to watch a live “Rugby Tonight” programme being produced but also got to go on stage during the rehearsals of the Clare Balding show and act as a stand-in.

 

 

Alex was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2007 when he was 10 years old. Alex says "I had no idea what this was at the time or what it meant .... my dad told me that I should not be worried about having Asperger’s because many of our family members have Asperger’s traits and it gives us special powers. From then on I have always viewed my Asperger’s as something positive and that I feel lucky to have".

 

When in front of the camera,  Alex feels his Asperger’s has helped him as his colourful appearance always seems to lighten up any interview or video that he may be in and allows him to start speaking with confidence. He also believe it makes him much more able to engage in conversation. He says "It may look as though I have no trouble with asking or being asked questions but it is much harder than you think, especially as you only have a short time to do it in".

 

 

Alex has received lots of encouragement from many people such as Michael Portillo, Gary Newbon and Fiona Bruce. He's always believed that if you want something then just ask, as the worst anybody will say is no. For this reason he has always contacted everyone no matter who they are or how famous they are.

 

Alec says "The first thing that everybody should understand is that every single person with Autism is different. Secondly, we are just as able to carry out tasks as Non-Autistic people but we may just need more time or more precise instructions. It affects how we communicate with others and how we make sense of the world around us. Many find that reading facial expression or understanding common phrases difficult. Also they may not be able to look you in the eye. Don’t be put off by this. It may look as though they are not listening to you but they will be, they will just be focusing on something other than yourself".

 

One of the areas Alex would love to work in is children’s presenting and so many of the presenters on Children’s shows inspire him such as Justin Fletcher and the Chuckle Brothers. Another person that really inspires him is Michael Portillo, not only for the way he dresses but also for the way he engages an audience.