Radio and TV personality Mark Pilgrim is best known as the host of Big Brother South Africa and Africa as well his radio shows on 5fm and 94.7 Highveld Stereo.
Born in Essex, England Mark's family immigrated to South Africa when he was 9 and he spent his primary and high school years in the small town of Kriel and Sasolburg.
After finishing High School (he matriculated at Sasolburg High School in 1986), Mark moved to Johannesburg and started his B.Com degree at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Two years later he started working full-time and finished his degree in Industrial Psychology and Business Economics through UNISA.
While at university Mark's life took an abrupt and life-changing turn during his second year of studies when he discovered an abnormal lump. In April 1988 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which spread to his lungs and kidneys.
He underwent an operation immediately and had to replace his studies with months of chemotherapy. After a fierce battle he managed to overcome the cancer and has shaved his head ever since to remind himself never to take life for granted.
He's also been involved in motivational speaking since the incident and has taken his story on the road to share it with audiences across South Africa.
After getting through the battle with the disease, Mark needed money to pay the bills. He answered an ad in the classifieds for a "Research Assistant" which began a 10 year career in market research.
He went back to university part-time and changed his degree majors from Accounting and Tax to Business Economics and Industrial Psychology, studying by night and working by day.
He worked at various market research companies and was chairman of the Johanessburg branch of SAMRA (Southern African Market Research Association) before quitting to go into radio.
His radio career and the realisation of a life-long dream began in mid-1995 when he heard that 5fm was looking for a new late-night jock. He sent through an audition tape and a week later he did his first show.
From the age of 12 Mark knew he wanted to get into broadcasting. He would ride around the streets of Kriel on his bicycle with a battery operated microphone and speaker, announcing lost dogs (which he fabricated).
While at University he was on campus radio and shortly thereafter attended the School of Broadcasting. He spent 8 years auditioning at various radio stations, including Radio 702, Capital 604, Smart FM and Highveld Stereo, but to no avail.
With the long-awaited radio contract sealed at 5fm he spent a year and a half doing radio by night and his market research career by day until the end of 1996 when he decided to make radio his only focus.
For almost 10 years Mark hosted various shows on 5FM, starting off on Weekend Graveyard, followed by the 80's Hour on Saturday afternoons, and then Weekend Breakfast.
In November 2003, he had a fallout with management and was ungracefully axed from the station. Mark was accused of playing too much rock music, as well as talking about the relationship of 2 fellow jocks on air. The result was a media scandal with the public questioning the station's direction and management abilities.
He left the station and started freelancing for Johannesburg's 94.7 Highveld Stereo two weeks later, which is where he currently is.
Mark's TV career happened in conjunction with his career in radio and began behind the scenes as a voice artist narrating various shows.
In 1999 he hosted his first show - e.tv's lifestyle programme New Moves which focused on travel, food, fashion and technology at the turn of the millennium.
In 2001 he hosted Big Brother 1, in 2002 the sequel followed and in 2003 he hosted Big Brother Africa.
In 2004, Mark hosted the makeover show Face2Face on SABC2 , between 2001 and 2005 he hosted Retail Therapy for M-Net and in 2005 he was the sexpose host of Sex Etc, also on M-Net.
Mark in the 94.7 studios
Mark in an Ultimate Sports Nutrition poster campaign
Mark at his Matric Dance
Mark in Grade 5