I TALK TELLY

i talk to: keith lemon

Keith Lemon 2 Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 14 years, you’ll be all too familiar with Keith Lemon, the alter-ego of comedian Leigh Francis (Bo Selecta). Whether it’s Celebrity Juice or Lemon La Vida Loca, Keith has been entertaining audiences on ITV2 for a long time now and has a new sketch show, aptly titled The Keith Lemon Sketch Show launching on the channel next year.

Last year Keith moved over to the main channel ITV to bring back Through The Keyhole. To bring back a show that was so widely loved was always going to be a gamble, but luckily it was one that paid off. Helped by a great lead-in audience from The X Factor, the show was loved by audiences young and old with many praising the irreverent host’s presenting skills and overall show format. Also, we’re all a little bit nosey aren’t we? Why would you turn down the chance to have a snoop around a celebs house?

Last week when I was Edinburgh for the International Television Festival I was lucky enough to witness Through The Keyhole live in front of an audience for a special TV controllers stage version (more here) and having seen the first few episode of the new series I cannot recommend it enough.

So when I got the opportunity to speak to the man himself a few weeks ago, I was hardly going to say no. Here’s what he had to say about Through The Keyhole and all the many other projects he’s got on the go at the moment..

Q So, tell us a bit about the second series of Through The Keyhole?

Well we’ve all chatted about it and I think this series is better than last series, because I was just finding my feet in the first one. And this one I know where they are… they’re on the end of me legs! It’s quite loosey goosey this one, I said – “Get rid of autocue!” ‘cos I feel like I’m not doing anything if I’m just reading.

So we got rid of autocue so it has more of a Celebrity Juice flavour to it… but without effs and jeffs! Although it has got a couple in, but then sometimes I can hear ’em in me ear going – “No more. That’s enough. That’s your swear quota done.” We’ve got some American houses which is always exciting. We get to have a holiday out of our job… well, it weren’t a holiday ‘cos it were right busy ‘cos we were only there for a week and we had four houses to do.

Q Have you been recognised in Los Angeles?

Only by English people and there’s a couple of Americans who have seen me on YouTube which is very rare. That why I like to go to America on holiday. I couldn’t live there. No way! LA don’t have a centre! I like having a centre – “Are you going local or are you going into town?” – there’s no town. It’s really hard to get taxis and no one walks, and if you do they think you’re a murderer. I like going there on holiday for two weeks or whatever, I worked there for 6 weeks before, but no.

If they said would you come and do this show I would. I don’t have any dying need to go there to be honest. Nothing can be going more right for me work wise at the moment… apart from having a rest. That would be nice.

Q What were the houses like this series?

A lot of the houses this series were as I expected showbiz houses to be, whereas the first series I felt like they were more humble. But these houses are a lot more exotic. On telly they’ll all look nice, which is what’s weird, when you go in someone’s house who’s not as clean as someone else, on telly it all still looks nice. That’s what they want form the show, they want people to watch it and have a feeling of aspiration and go – “Ain’t that nice?” rather than – “Look at that shithole they live in!”

Actually, one house out there was quite humble and you would never know that that person lived there, you’d think a student lived there. I don’t know what they’ve down with their money but they ain’t spent it on their gaff! (Laughs)

In contrast to that, one person’s was like a holiday resort and you literally could’ve lived there for the rest of your life and not gone on holiday. It had a sea view, that was in Malibu, all the pools. The humble one didn’t have a pool, not even a paddling pool!

In America, fridges are like a flat in London! But this series we’ve been concentrating on ovens, we do oven review, because you can tell a lot buy a person’s oven. Whether they cook or not, or whether they’re lady. I’ve seen some dirty ovens, and we mark them out of five.

Q Did you get in any of the pools? 

Yeah, I did get in the pools. I’ve taken it as one of the perks of the job to get in everyone’s bed this series, just to get a quick picture on their phone. I think people know I’m not a lunatic! If we damage someone’s house so much I know no one will let us in their house next series, so I have to be a bit careful. But yeah, I like to get on their toilet and in their bed, and get a picture of both.

Q Talking of beds… Whose bed would you most like to get in?

Well Cheryl Cole’s married now ain’t she? (Thinks…) I’d quite like to do something with Kylie, whether on Juice or her come on the panel of Keyhole, or let me in her house or just let me lay down next to her naked. Any of those things would be good. But she’s gone back to Australia now. And Jessie J, every time I see her she’s always up for doing something but it never follows through. I never know why. I don’t know if it’s just polite lies – “Yeah, I’d love to! (Whispers) Say no! Say no!” – so I don’t know…

Q What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever found in somebody’s house? 

Well the first series, it were Kerry Katona! A dildo and a Dracula mask in her bag. I don’t care about a Dracula mask in a bag, or a dildo, but both together is weird… I think! I mean what do you do with a  Dracula mask? I know what a lady does with a dildo. Even though I don’t understand vibrators because the man’s penis does not vibrate, so I’ve never understood why it vibrates. It’s weird because it was a vintage Dracula mask! It was like an old school one…

But this series, one person had a wax figurine… they don’t call them waxworks at Madam Tussaud’s, I know because I’ve got one! But it was just a butler! Not a famous butler, not that I know any famous butler, but a wax figurine butler, which I thought was quite odd.

Q You can’t tell us about the houses you go in, but what can you tell us about the panels this year?

Oh we had some great panels this year! One of my favourites we did was Alan Carr, Ruth Langsford and Jonathan Ross. Me, Jonathan and Alan ended up on the floor in the studio doing excerises with one of the homeowners… and I ripped me pants ‘cos they’re still quite tight. And then Jonathan ripped them more by kind of wheelbarrowing me around.

Q How much say do you have in the houses you go and visit?

They give me a list of people and I say yes or no. Sometimes they’ll force someone on me who I think is a bad idea, and then we’ll get to the house and go… Oh I see why you’ve done this. Because now we’re in France… ain’t it nice! Or sometimes when they come in to the studio I’ll admit I were wrong, sometimes I’ll go – “Yeah, I were wrong. They were good crack them weren’t they? And they were good in the studio.”

For me I want both, I want an interesting house, but a good guest in the study as well. Because you don’t want anyone like Katie Price, who will be an interesting house, but in the studio wouldn’t say anything. She’s terribly quiet when she’s been on Juice, because she’s scared of looking stupid rather than just getting involved.

Q How easy is it for you to turn down your smut and banter for an ITV audience on Through The Keyhole compared with Celebrity Juice?

Easy really, because Juice is booze fuelled for a start. It’s ruder than I ever thought it would be. It didn’t start off like that, ‘cos before that I did Keith Lemon’s World Tour which you can show your nan and everything, there’s nothing in it. No swearing in it at all. And then I swore once in Celebrity Juice, I think it were first or second episode, and I said to Fearne – “Do you know what F stands for on the front of your desk? Fucking shut up!” – and everyone gasped ‘cos it were ITV and no on swears really.

The filthier it got, the more successful it became. So now I try and tone it, they give me ideas and stuff and I’m like – “I ain’t doing that! I ain’t saying that!” So I tone it down now and they’ve got dirty minds. So it’s easy now.

Q Have you ever nicked anything from one of the houses?

Let me think… someone gave me once and INXS book. I was talking to their wife and I said – “Oh I like INXS” – they were the same age so they had the same references as me. She said – “Oh hang on, I’ve got an INXS book here” and she gave me it. I said no three times. That’s the rule. And then I went – “Oh alright then!”.

Q Do you know what Lloyd Grossman thinks of your version of Through The Keyhole?

Yeah I do, because he came to the pilot. in the first half I was a bit nervous, I rarely get nervous but I did this time because it were a new thing and I said “cunt” three times because I thought the audience there are going expect a certain thing. I did think, oh he won’t like that, that I’ve said that, but afterwards I went into the green room and he were crying. He said it were amazing and he laughed so much.

And I thought good! I don’t necessarily care if it’s funny or not, because it’s so interesting, and I know anyone who comes on Keyhole, I know they have a great time because I can see it. It’s a different guest to Juice which is just a big party, Keyhole is a TV show. Alan Carr said (Keith dons his best Alan Carr impression) – “Ooh I had a great time!” I said to him he would! He won’t come onto Juice!

Q Were you surprised by how well the series did?

A bit surprised. Yeah I was. I thought it’d do well because it was on after X Factor, so you’ll inherit that audience, and if it don’t your’e going to get shot. Because that’s a big audience X Factor. And it’s on Saturday night, but the format itself, like I say, I don’t care if it’s funny. It’s really interesting at the same time. It’s just better than it’s funny. Can you imagine if it came on now and it were just straight? It’d be weird. When I got a video camera when I was little, the first thing I spoofed was Through The Keyhole, so I kept saying to me mates – “Innit weird that I’m doing Through The Keyhole?” They said – “Which bit are you doing? Around houses or in the studio?” – and I went “Both!” – they said – “You greedy bastard! Couldn’t you get some totty to go around you ugly twat?”

Q Who would you have had as your co-host if you followed the original format?

A girl. Definitely a girl. I definitely want to do something else with Fearne, Holly is off having babies and doing This Morning, we were talking about… IF… and I don’t think it’s going to happen, but if Juice ended I’m hoping the three of us do something else together, because it works so well. But we’re still having such a good laugh doing Juice so I can;t see that ending soon.

Q Have you got a replacement for Holly as she’s on maternity leave?

Yeah. I don’t think I can tell you who it is. I don’t know why, ‘cos they’ll say – “We want to announce it ourselves and do a big press thing for it” – but then they won’t tell me when they’ve done it and then I’ll read it on Twitter. That’s what normally happens!

Q So it’s not Kelly Brook then?

No, she’s not here. She’s in America doing a telly show and riding around on a bike with that muscly man.

Q Do you think your mate David Beckham will ever let you into his home?

I doubt it. I don’t ask me mates if I can come in their house. People I know in real life, I ask ’em to come on the panel. So I don’t ask if I can go around their house. I totally understand if people won’t do it though… because they’re private. Some people aren’t private and they do OK! magazine shoots and they’re the people we target really! (Laughs!)

Q You follow The X Factor, would you like to go into Simon Cowell’s house?

I’d love to go into Simon Cowell’s house. I always get the impression he don’t lime me though. Well he doesn’t like comedy does he? It’s a good job I’ve lampooned him in me new sketch show then! He’s like the king of television, so who better to do than Simon Cowell? It’s quite interesting to see how someone of his stature, how much money they’ve got in their house. I bet there’s no IKEA in there.

I’m trying to find a picture of me as Simon Cowell… (Keith starts looking through his phone to find the picture), you won’t believe it, I look nothing like him. (Keith then shows me a picture of himself dressed as Simon Cowell, followed by a picture of him as Mark Wright.)

I’m probably not allowed to talk about the sketch show, although I read about it on the internet so…

Q What happened to Keith Lemon: The Film 2?

Well there were lots of arguments and I said – “Fuck you all!” and I’ll rewrite a new one! (Laughs) Which I’m doing now. I’ve been busy also ain’t I? This year I’ve done a pilot for a sketch show, I will have done two series of Celebrity Juice a series of Through The Keyhole and two books. Then when I can have time to have a fart, that’s when I’ll write. The re-writes in my head already, I literally lock myself away in a room for a week and go… it’s done!

Q Would you consider yourself a bit of a workaholic? You’ve got so many different projects on the go…

Well if I’m sat at home getting bored I’ll just wank myself to death! (Laughs!) I’m just riding this really. At the moment it’s working, and I’m not bored. And touch wood nobody else is bored… well some miserable Twitter nobheads are. So I’m just riding it, and if it’s fun, yeah. I’ll do it. When I hit 30 I just thought, if it’s fun I’ll just do it. Rather than caring about the outcome.

I got offered Big Brother, not to be in it, but to host it but I just thought I couldn’t follow Davina McCall. But Emma Willis does it perfectly, she’s fantastic at it. Then they said will I go in it! Well if I won’t present it, I won’t go in it will I? I like watching it. I haven’t been offered the jungle (I’m A Celebrity), I did get offered Dancing on Ice and Strictly. I won’t do any of them, but I like watching them. I wouldn’t want anyone to see me in a bad mood.


Through The Keyhole starts Saturday 30th August at 9:25pm on ITV.