Event host and corporate compére Phil Oldershaw shares his experiences working with some of the UK’s biggest names, on the radio, stage and screen.

My daily routine; where to begin? It changes with every project and no day is ever the same. Throw COVID-19 into the mix, then who knows!

However, here’s an insight into some of the events I have worked on with passion, purpose and performance. As an experienced hospitality professional, with over 30 years in the business, when hired for an event I come with a huge amount of valuable insight. I have an array of skills from TV, radio, online projects, voiceover, commercials, city events, venue openings, corporate dinners and charity auctions. I have also owned and managed some pretty impressive entertainment businesses, radiating excitement, energy and success.



Hosting a BBC Good Food Show event, I would be up at 6.30am if staying local. Arriving at the venue, after reviewing the script and check-in registration, I know who to look for and where to go. Next, arriving at the stand, with a good hour (subject to contract) giving me plenty of time to introduce myself, meet team members, get an understanding of what is expected and the overall message of the day. Taking time to peruse the overall event setup is key, ensuring I have further knowledge and information to feel comfortable when taking lead on stage. As demonstrators or celebrity chefs arrive, it’s my role to ensure they feel at ease and understand what they need prior to their delivery. Sometimes a stage manager may be present, or sometimes it is simply me and a tech team. It’s up to me to deliver a live show with audience interaction, fun and enthusiasm, ensuring the message is conveyed with warmth and clarity to what can be thousands of people.

A city event, such as The Colmore Food Festival in Birmingham, will involve much of the above. However, as this is a live event showcasing local hospitality businesses, personal communication is key, both at their trading stands and on stage. Being set up like market stalls, I would visit the stands and talk to the owners and customers about their experience, often on camera as well as up on the demo stage. Live music is also a big part of this type of event, so hosting the main stage artists would also be key to around 35,000 people. I’m the anchor and love helping the energy and message flow, arriving at 10am and finishing about 7pm.

Awards and dinners are particularly exciting as guests are dressed up and in the mood to party, while looking forward to the surprises ahead. I have both presented and arranged many big dinners over the years, over 1,200 people. Sometimes, I will need to arrive for a soundcheck and run-through in the afternoon, especially when extra tech and performances are involved. I love the excitement and build up. Following that, guests will generally arrive around 7pm for reception drinks, photos and nibbles. Access to the main event will follow and the show commences, in some way or another, which varies immensely depending on budget. I announce dinner, along with hosting awards, auctions, raffles and live entertainment. My job is to raise the energy, make people feel special, get the message across and make sure everything appears to run smoothly no matter what. Even the best laid plans can sometimes fall apart. That’s when a good host/ presenter/ compére, whatever you choose to call them, comes into their own!

I work with many leading organisations, like City BIDS, Councils, PLCs, West Midlands Growth Company and Independents also, subsequently hosting a multitude of incredibly exciting and varied projects, at different times of the day or night, geographically spread. I love what I do and am passionate about people and bringing events to life!

We asked Phil his top tip for anyone looking to host a live event…

I may be biased, but in my experience, investing in a decent host can make or break your event! Look for somebody with warmth, knowledge, passion, experience and an understanding of what you want to achieve. Teamwork is everything, as is money well spent.

For more information, email phil@philoldershaw.com or visit Philoldershaw.com.