Frankie Vu (OE) has secured a role as a presenter of the iconic children’s television show, HOW, while also enjoying a new job with Facebook, working in virtual reality.
ITV have revived the educational programme, with Frankie (Francis) among the team of four presenters. HOW originally ran from 1966 to 1981 and was then re-launched in 1990 as How 2.
“I have very fond memories of the children’s television I grew up with in the 90s and 00s, and a handful of those shows were memorable enough that they still find their way into nostalgic conversations with my peers,” said Frankie (OE 2000–2008). “How 2 was one of those shows, and when I received the news that I would be part of the new presenting line-up, it took weeks to really process the heritage that I would be contributing to.
“Before the audition process, I was unaware that How had been a successful series from the 1960s through to the 80s, and that How 2 had run for a further 16 years from 1990 to 2006. So to be a part of such an iconic format, and to be reviving a show with so much history, is a real honour.”
Produced by Terrific Television, the new series is being shown on CITV and simulcast on ITV; it is also available on ITV Hub. The team also includes veteran HOW presenter Fred Dinenage MBE, who has been a TV presenter for 56 years and was a presenter on both the original series and How 2.
Frankie, a freelance presenter who has worked for broadcasters including the Disney Channel and CBBC, has also been working for Facebook since the start of this year.
“I work in virtual reality (VR) for Facebook ‘by day’. I’ve juggled this with presenting by using annual leave days to film, as and when necessary.
“After spending the best part of ten years messing around in front of cameras, I decided to get a ‘proper’ job, where I spend my days in the virtual world, desperately avoiding the perils and responsibilities of real life. Jokes aside, VR is a rapidly growing part of the tech industry, and over the past few years, I’ve witnessed huge development in the capabilities of the hardware, as well as the current and potential uses of VR.”
Beyond its most obvious application in gaming, VR is now also being used for fitness, surgical training, sports rehabilitation, corporate meetings and tourism, amongst other industries, Frankie points out. “My own role involves overseeing the training and development of Product Experience Specialists, who are tasked with delivering memorable first-time VR experiences, both in-person and now remotely.
“Managing my schedule has been challenging at times, but the gratitude I feel for being able to do what I love massively outweighs any negativity.”
On leaving QE, Frankie studied English Language & Communication at King’s College London. After attending a talk on careers in the media in his final year, he was invited to screen-test for Disney, and secured his first TV contract at the end of the summer.
A sports enthusiast – he won the UK football freestyle championship while still at QE in 2006 – he was a host for the fencing and taekwondo events at the London Olympics and for the wheelchair fencing at the 2012 Paralympic Games, as well as for other live sporting events, including rugby, football and NFL.
“If I could glean any lessons from my own journey, and from this year in general, I would say that we can never know what lies ahead, so it doesn’t serve any purpose to worry too much about the distant future.
“My advice would be to focus on what you love doing, work hard – and don’t give up. Many of us will spend 50 years of our lives in the world of work, so it’s worth trying to figure out what really motivates you – and if that changes somewhere down the line, that’s fine too. The job I’m doing at Facebook didn’t exist a few years ago, and when I was at QE, I had no idea I’d be presenting TV shows – so focus on the things you can control and everything else will fall into place.”
Frankie adds: “I’m still in regular (socially distanced) contact with lots of friends from QE, and I live within walking distance of two my closest friends from Underne house, Robert Michel and Anil Douglas.”
- Frankie can be reached at: