My childhood, in Essex, was run-of-the-mill. My parents were grafters, starting businesses from home, and they were both very present in my life while also deeply committed to their jobs. It was instilled into me that nothing is earned unless you work for it.
How I avoided serious injury in my teens remains a mystery, given how stupid my friends and I were. We’d climb the steepest hills and descend on roller-skates passing busy junctions; as we got older, we drove cars too fast into hedges and fields. I had an appetite for risk until 27, when mortality became very real.
School wasn’t my thing, I wasn’t academic. I’d play every sport possible to avoid classes. My results were OK, but they weren’t good enough to get me into a vet course as I’d hoped. Instead, all I learned from university was that I should never have gone. At an age where I could have been travelling the world, why was I studying marketing in Gloucestershire?
My housemate entered me into a This Morning modelling competition. I had no idea about the fashion industry before winning. It was only later that I learned my course mates called me “Model Dave”. My agent still tells the story: my picture was in the “no” pile, when she walked past, picked up my image, and insisted I be given proper consideration. I’m still signed to her today.
As soon as I started working, a gap in the modelling market became obvious: I saw the pay and profile of the women supermodels, and knew I wanted to be the first man to do the same. It took work and focus, but we pushed the boundaries of how far men could go in the industry.
An out-of-control mule nearly carried me off the edge of the Grand Canyon. We were exploring on horseback when something spooked my ride. I was being smacked by plants and trees as it ran out of control through the forest. I managed to cling on and, thankfully, it stopped a meter from the edge of the rocks.
Everything in my life is plotted out step by step: holidays, professional ventures. It’s boring to be around. My other half is a barrister who thinks on her feet – she finds me incredibly frustrating.
Dancing with J-Lo is a total nightmare. I’m a typical British bloke who’ll move to the music at a wedding, drunk. Imagine getting a call and learning you’ll be dancing, on camera, with one of the world’s greatest entertainers! We’d worked together before – on set she made me feel at ease, of course, while knowing I felt like a tit and was hating every minute.
I’ve done my share of underwear shoots: it’s strange to know a giant picture of your crotch is plastered over a Times Square billboard. I don’t see myself, though – I see a character. In many ways, on set I’m like an actor. I find I’m very critical: my body could be better; should I have done a different pose? I tend not to stare at myself very often
Being a dad has transformed my life. Before fatherhood I thought my time was stretched. Now I can’t remember what I did with all the spare hours. My daughter has taught me to appreciate simpler things. Everything is incredible to a child: a strangely shaped stick is the funniest thing. She saw deer for the first time last week and lost her mind.