Leigh Francis is an English comedy performer. He is most famous for his comedy series 'Bo' Selecta!' and portrayal of Romanian character 'Avid Merrion', as well as northern businessman 'Keith Lemon' in 'Keith Lemon's Very Brilliant World Tour' and 'Celebrity Juice'.
chUKles: How did you get into comedy?
Leigh: My Dad bought me a video camera when I was 16. I just use to make spoofs of films and show them to my mates. It was my mates that said "Hey why don't you send them to telly" So I started sending my tapes to "Telly" until I got an audition. I didn't get the audition but they did offer me a job in the development department. That was the paramount channel, its now comedy central.
C: Who were your comedy heroes and influences when growing up?
L: When I was growing up I didn't really have any aspirations to be a comedian, I went to art college and became a graphic designer before telly happened. But when I was kid I liked Kenny Everett, when I was older Vic and Bob and it was really them that inspired me. I also like Andy Kauffman, Jim Carey and Mike Myers
C: You recently did a Bo Selecta tribute special of Michael Jackson; ‘Chamone Mo’Fo Selecta’.
Did anyone try to stop you from releasing it?
L: No, Who would stop me and why would they? It was on E4 and was supposed to be on C4 but they put it back as they were going through some legal stuff, nothing to do with the show. Apparently they're showing it later this year. But its out on DVD for anyone who missed it on E4.
C: Where do you get your comedy character ideas from? Are they based on people you know?
L: They come from all over the place, friends, family, people I meet. A lot of ideas seem to come in the shower. I spend a lot of time in the shower. I think my wife wonders what I'm doing in there. But a lot of ideas pop up whilst I'm cleaning my bits!
C: I read that there was going to be a Keith Lemon film. Is this true?
L: Its kinda true. I was commissioned to rwrite the script. its almost finished hopefully we'll get the greenlight if they like the script
C: If so, what will the premise be?
L: The film is about consumerism, the fickleness of fame, and about how Keith handles becoming an over night success, how money blinds him and makes him forget his roots.
C: On ‘Celebrity Juice’, you just had a ‘This Morning’ vs. ‘Radio 1’ episode. One round was entitled ‘Schofe vs. Moyle’, was there any animosity between the two? It’s just as a viewer, I sensed an atmosphere after Phil(Schofield) called Chris(Moyles) fat, after being called old himself? (Phil shrugged off an apology from Chris)
L: There was no animosity whatsoever. Everybody had a drink afterwards. Its just a fun panel show. A lot of people say how horrible I am to Fearne but in real life I love her to death. Its all just fun.
C: Will there be anymore ‘Bo Selecta’? Craig David could probably do with the publicity for his latest album; ‘Signed, Sealed & Delivered’.
L: Who knows if there will ever be anymore. I'd kinda written it off. It seemed like it was of its time ya know. We did 4 series, but when we did the MJ special I got a little excited about it and thought maybe we could do more. Theres a lot more new celebs to lampoon now. If the telly big wigs wanted more then yeah I'd be up for it.
C: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into comedy as a career?
L: Do what you believe is funny, thats the only thing you can do, and enjoy yourself!
C: Have you always enjoyed being funny and making people laugh?
L: I've always tried to enjoy whatever it is I'm doing yes
C: You give Fearne Cotton a lot of stick on Celebrity Juice about her large nostrils. Does she ever tell you to stop doing it?
L: Every week I say to her, don't worry I'm gonna go easy this week, and she tells me not to. She's a really good sport. I love her. Both Holly and Fearne are great to work with, they're such good sports
C: When you’re not in character, what do you get up to?
L: I spend time with my beautiful wife and daughter. I go to the shops, I go to the cinema, I go to the pub, I play out on my skateboard and my BMX, normal stuff. I make stuff, I paint, I watch a lot of films. Spend time with my friends. Normal stuff.
C: You came second in the first series of ‘Let’s Dance’ for Sport Relief with dancing partner, Paddy McGuiness. Do you and Paddy still do a spot of dancing in your spare time?
L: I really enjoyed it and Paddy and I wanna do something together again. I've written him into the film, he's keith's cousin as he was in 'Keith Lemons Very Brilliant World Tour"
C: You and your wife had a child last year. Did this change you at all?
L: Of course it did, to no end. Before Matilda came along I was a boy. Now I'm part man part boy. Its all wonderfully strange, in a very nice way.
You can see Leigh as 'Keith Lemon' on 'Celebrity Juice' Thursdays on ITV2 @10:00pm or purchase one or more of the following: