When it comes to being Irish, every one of America’s 300 million inhabitants has Irish ties, and right now everyone wants a piece of the X Factor. As a nation we have the Grimes twins, but as a city we have Jonathon Ridgard, senior researcher, chaperone, and cameraman to the hottest pop property.
Behind the scenes Mr Ridgard has been filming, minding, and living with the stars, dream job to every teenager, and to Jonathon himself.
Talking to the Galway Advertiser en route from filming at Ollie’s house, the 27-year-old from Ballybane has spent the last few months getting to know each and every one of your favourite X Factor celebrities. His job is to assist in producing what has become the hottest reality series on television.
From the beginning of the audition process Jonathon has had a key role in meeting potential contestants, and finding the right people for the show.
“We have to live with the contestants, get on with them, and organise their lives. During the boot camp we make sure all contestants are happy, and help them with their song choices. Part of my job is to set up what contestants do for the week, filming them in their homes, or with the local football team. I do everything from organise their schedule, pick their songs, and forward planning for the following week.”
Jonathon got into the celebrity game when asked to be a runner on Grease is the Word, since then he has worked on three series of the X Factor, and a host of other television programs.
“I love it, I spent years trying to figure what I wanted to do. Every week is different, for instance today I spent the last three or four hours filming at Ollie’s house. I wasn’t even able to use a digital camera before I started, and now I am filming, and interviewing contestants, and all my material is used on the show.
“I love the twins, and I have seen the stuff in the papers back home. I thought they sang and danced very well. I just wish people wouldn’t boo. It takes a lot to do what they do. They handle themselves very well, and are absolutely amazing off set.” Jonathon says that there is no rivalry off set among the contestants. he says they all get on very well, and help each other when they can.
“The highlight of the show so far has been filming with Simon Cowell in LA, he has an amazing house which was only finished shortly before we arrived. Meeting Whitney Houston was a great experience, and I really enjoyed hanging with the Black Eyed Peas.”