Well, for Des Coleman, the effervescent presenter currently creating a cult following for himself amongst viewers of ITV Central, it was via a welding job in Staffordshire, a prison cell at Winson Green, treading the boards on the West End stage – and being dumped by the BBC.
Des, who grew up in Derby with his Jamaican-born Windrush Generation parents, revealed the twists and turns in his career path during a Q & A session at a Birmingham Press Club networking evening chaired by Club president Bob Warman.
After leaving school at the age of 16, Des was employed as a welder in Rugeley. But in his early 20s he spent time in prison, serving some of his sentence in Winson Green for motoring offences – committed while he was a passenger in a car driven by a joy-riding friend.
Des eventually focused his ambitions on drama and won a place at Guildford School of Acting. After graduating, he went on to appear in stage musicals such as Chicago and Miss Saigon before making his television debut as wideboy Lenny Wallace in Eastenders – a role that lasted for three years.
Other TV and stage roles followed, as did a job on BBC Radio Derby, where he was asked to do the weather report at the Broadcast Centre in Nottingham, signalling another career change, which resulted in him being trained as a weather presenter and employment with BBC East Midlands Today.
But four years later, in 2011, Des was arrested and charged for allegedly pointing an imitation firearm at another driver on a motorway. The BBC gave him the sack after he used a live weather report to protest his innocence – Des deliberately put the wrong temperature on the weather map and told viewers they should not believe everything said by the media!
But then Des was “completely exonerated” of all allegations after the judge criticised the prosecution for acting “negligently” for not having discovered details of the past convictions of the prosecuting witness – four incidents of road rage and one of threatening another motorist with a knife.
For Des, the outlook brightened up two years ago when ITV Central News took him on as the station’s weather presenter, his bubbly nature soon endearing him to legions of viewers.
Other fans still appreciate Des’ talents as a singer – for he regularly appears on stage and at functions as part of the award-winning tribute band, The Rack Pack, which tours Britain and overseas.
And for those of us in the Midlands, we can see Des – and the rest of the Rat Pack – at Birmingham’s Crescent Theatre, on Friday, 27 July.