Johnny before losing the weight Johnny Vegas slimmed down for his son's sake By Tom Bryant
Comic Johnny Vegas joked yesterday that three of his local pie shops have had to close after he lost five stone. The Benidorm star, 36, said he slimmed down to 13 stone by cutting back on his favourite pies, booze, bread and cheese.
He told ITV's Loose Women: "There's a pie producer in my hometown of St Helens in Merseyside and they've just closed three shops. The guilt of that's been laid at my door "There's a major campaign now to sneak them under my salad," he said.
The dad-of-one decided to slim done from his hefty 18 stone in May last year when he shared an office with a man who ate healthily. He said: "It got to the point where I was getting gout quite regularly. I realised I had a son and I wanted to be around a little bit longer. I didn't think I'd make 30. I made 30 so I set myself the challenge of making it to 40."
Johnny Vegas believes lost weight makes him less attractive 19 May 2009
Johnny Vegas, the actor and comedian, believes losing weight has made him less attractive to women. Vegas, known for appearing in the PG Tips adverts with Monkey, recently revealed he had lost four stone after being diagnosed with gout. But he believes the weight loss has had a negative impact.
"I think I was always a charming, sexy -------," he said. "But now I look less vulnerable, if anything it's had a negative impact. I used to attract a lot of feeders. I'd be quite happy to be locked in someone's flat and fed liquidised burgers."
Speaking to Zoo magazine, he continued: "I've calmed right down, but I had a run of five nights drinking and I don't know how I used to do it every night. I don't really go into town, but if I do I don't normally make it home!"
He said his role as small time drugs dealer Moz in BBC3 sitcom Ideal has brought some unwanted attention. "The first couple of years out in Spain filming Benidorm every dealer would come up to me and go: 'I've got some good stuff you're gonna love. They'd think they were doing me a favour and slip drugs into my pocket. I'd wake up with an ounce of weed in there!"
Johnny Vegas: Boozy comic sheds six stone as he tries to clean up his act By Beth Neil
He’s the hellraising heavyweight comic rarely seen without a pint of Guinness in his hand. But funnyman Johnny Vegas admits the party’s over after his chaotic lifestyle started to threaten his ability to work. Cutting out the crazy all-night drinking sessions has helped the Benidorm star to shed an impressive six stone. He might have quit life in the fast lane. But looking trimmer and healthier than ever, the 37-year-old dad-of-one has given up kebabs as well as the black stuff – and says being around for his son was the secret inspiration behind his weight loss.
Speaking exclusively to the Mirror ahead of tomorrow night’s Benidorm one-hour special, he says, in his familiar rasp: “The wild days are over. I can’t do it. I really can’t. I think I’m realising more and more that I’ve got a job to do and I can’t be doing the big nights out and working to my full potential the next day. I feel much better for it.
“Looking back on filming the first two series of Benidorm, I don’t know how I did it. An early night was 4am and I simply can’t do it anymore. People want to buy me a drink which is really nice. But if I had a drink with every single person who offered, I’d be pie-eyed the whole time. So I’m quite happily dull having quiet nights in with me decaf.”
Since starting out as a stand-up – a career which earned him a clutch of awards in the late 90s – Johnny has been a regular on TV. His performance as Charlie in 2001’s Happiness, for which he scooped a Comedy Award, established him as a gifted comic actor. That led to appearances on Shooting Stars and a starring role in BBC3 sitcom Ideal, now into its fifth series. And of course there’s Benidorm, the larger than life award-winning ITV1 comedy by Derren Litten which captured the hearts of Brit holidaymakers and nine million viewers.
Despite his success, St Helens–born Johnny confesses he still suffers from bouts of self doubt where he frets over whether he’ll ever work again. Lighting a cigarette, he says: “I’ve been very lucky that something has always come along. But there’s always that worry that the ride is over and it’s time to get off.
“There have been times I’ve finished a big job and thought, ‘Great, a couple of weeks off’. But then a couple of weeks turns to three weeks and then after a month you’re staring at the phone willing it to ring. It can be tough as a jobbing actor. As a stand-up I was always in work and in demand. In the acting business, anything can happen. You’re relying on writers wanting to do another series of whatever and other people commissioning them.”
He might feel anxious, but Johnny has enough projects in the pipeline not to be too concerned just yet. His company Woolyback Productions is currently developing a number of ideas including a possible children’s television show. There are also plans to develop Johnny’s acclaimed Radio 4 adaptation of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist for TV.
“I’ve got my finger in a lot of pies,” he says. “Either that or I’m desperate. I generally spend half the year working and the other half writing and developing new stuff. So once Benidorm wraps, it’ll probably be me sitting in a darkened room for a few months.”
After a turbulent time in his personal life, Johnny will be hoping for a period of calm. His acrimonious divorce from wife Kitty, mother of four-year-old son Michael, hit the headlines amid allegations of bad behaviour and heavy drinking on both sides. The couple wed after a whirlwind romance, but the relationship was always turbulent. Keen to put the traumatic episode behind him, Johnny politely refuses to talk about romance, although he has been spotted out in Benidorm with new love Maia Dunphy, 32, a script associate based in Ireland. And those close to him know just how much he adores Michael Junior. Fatherhood changed Johnny’s priorities and he has said it was Michael who provided inspiration for his weight loss.
He says: “I realised I had a son and I wanted to be around a little bit longer. I didn’t think I’d make 30. I made 30 so I set myself the challenge of making it to 40.”
While he’s been in Spain, Johnny has used whatever free time he has to put together a documentary for Radio 4, due to air in June, on the old school politically incorrect comics plying their trade in Benidorm. Their near-the-knuckle humour might be frowned upon back in Britain but out on the Costa Blanca it’s big business, and something Johnny was keen to explore.
He says: “There’s this pocket of 70s style clubland comedy which is in decline in the UK but is seriously thriving out here. It just really interested me as a comic. Is that sort of humour an elephants’ graveyard or is there still a market for it? We’re told there’s no call for it back home but a lot of holidaymakers out here come in search of it. It’s just been a real eye opener talking to the comedians. They’re doing an incredibly hard job. It really is the most cut-throat industry. There might be certain parts of their routine or material you’re at odds with but as people grafting I’ve got huge respect for them.”
Does Johnny think that brand of humour will ever make a return to British shores? The question leads him back again to his own crisis of confidence. He says: “I used to see myself as cutting edge but I’m definitely middle of the road these days. One day will someone be judging what I do as being past it? There but for the grace of God go I. Is this what lies in wait for me? Every new strand of comedy is a reaction to what already exists. It’s a bit like fashion going round in circles. So maybe we’ll get to a point where there’s a reaction to what’s going on now it will bring back that sort of un-PC comedy. I’m going to be recording a DVD out here at the Benidorm Palace which is going to be scary. I’ve only done a handful of gigs in the last few years.”
Johnny hasn’t visited a comedy night back home for a few years now. But he still keeps an eye on the circuit. He says: “Sean Lock is always one of my firm favourites. Ross Noble is brilliant. And Daniel Kitson is outstanding. It was after watching Danny for the third time I thought it was over. I needed to get out of the game. I remember watching him and thinking, ‘I’ve just seen the future’. At first he made me want to be a better comic. But then I realised he was just streets ahead. He can’t be caught.”
Tomorrow night’s Benidorm special picks up from the moment the award-winning series ended last year. Johnny’s character The Oracle was last seen causing havoc on a rogue paraglider, first knocking out perma-tanned Mel on his wedding day in front of a distraught Madge, before careering out to sea watched on by mum Noreen.
Johnny says: “It’s popular because it’s massively accessible and it’s got characters everyone can relate to. The vast majority have been on these kind of holidays. And while everyone identifies the characters, they never identify themselves. I see my own family in the Garveys. You’ve got to suspend your disbelief a little bit when all the same characters end up back on the same holiday. But I think it’s a sign of how loved it is that people aren’t bothered about the details. They just want everyone back.”
The special will tee up the third series which launches in September. Fans will have to be patient for now but are in for a treat with some expertly cast guest stars. Including one Tim Healy in a surprise romantic encounter for The Oracle.
Johnny says: “I got a text from a friend saying she’d just been talking to Tim and apparently he was my new love interest. I started panicking about how I was going to approach my first on-screen male kiss. The agent was on speed dial, I promise you. I was gearing myself up to say, ‘Er you remember the clause about no Speedos? I might have a second one to add to that...’”
Hold on a second. A no Speedos clause? Johnny laughs. “Oh yeah! With my figure people would think I was a naturist. I think they’d get lost in there. Honestly, it would take a team of three to cut me out of them.”
For some (lazy-arsedness?) reason the photo with this story is from last year - so you can't really see that he has lost so much weight
A Fine Line Between a Comic and a Drug Dealer: Johnny Vegas on His IFC Debut “Ideal” By Jamin Brophy-Warren
Wall Street Journal
Much to his surprise, English comedian Johnny Vegas says his real life has been playing out like an episode of HBO’s crime drama “The Wire.” For the last five seasons in the UK, “Ideal” has placed Mr. Vegas as Moz, the loneliest and laziest drug dealer in his destitute neighborhood. Now that the show is making its American debut on Sunday on IFC, he’s worried that state-side fans will blur the line between fiction and reality, as some overzealous British fans have.
“People are always trying to give me weed and they think they’re doing you a favor,” he says. “I have a massive fear of flying and finding something in my pockets.” At one point, he thought he was being carjacked as a car followed behind him as he drove. “They pulled alongside me and just waved this giant wave of grass instead!”
That’s excessive even for his character Moz, who spends much of the first season in his apartment dealing with the various transients and friends that float through the dingy, rat-infested domicile. Much like the operating room serves as an excuse for an influx of characters in medical dramas like “Grey’s Anatomy,” Moz’s flat is a revolving door of weed-buying eccentrics such as the knife-wielding, mask-wearing Cartoon Head. Mr. Vegas said the show resonates with his experiences with drug dealers in college.
“You sat in a room with people you’d never cross paths with. There was a couple in a flat I’d been to and she was going to give up dealing to start IVF [in-vitro fertilization] treatment. They’re talking about starting a family while he’s cutting a huge piece of hash with an industrial cheese grater,” he remembers.
In fact, the provincial nature of the set and characters plays well on the show, which feels a bit like single-room of theatre drama rather than a popular BBC series. “I felt like I was living there,” says Mr. Vegas. “It’s a very claustrophobic feeling.”
As a stand-up comedian, the biggest challenge for Mr. Vegas was shifting from the energy and instant feedback of live audiences to the solitude of a set. “There’s a natural showy instinct where you can play to the crowd rather than be true to the characters. We’re actors so we’re not terribly humble.”
“Ideal” debuts Sunday at 11:30 PM on IFC.
Johnny Vegas in the Wall St Journal. I'll need to think about that for a bit!
“I don’t want to be a dad who’s a role model for being a drunk” Johnny talks about how fatherhood has changed him, accusations of sexual assault and why Mass is like a nice family meal Richard Benson
November 14th 2009
Johnny Vegas is adjusting himself in his seat to tell the story. “What I really love cooking at weekends is a Sunday brunch,” he says, waving his Marlboro Light about in the air for emphasis. “But I’m not one of those people who can just throw stuff together. What should take 15 minutes takes about three hours with me, so it’s a question of getting up early to make a start. The thing is, though” — he adopts his trademark tone of jolly despair and his cigarette hand comes sadly to rest on the table — “the food’s just never all that magnificent in the end. You know that feeling, ‘This should taste better’? Because of all that work that I’ve done, it really should” — mock-sobbing now — “just somehow taste ... better! Do you know what I mean?”
I think we do, don’t we? Although, as often with Johnny Vegas’s observations, we may not have actually known we felt that way about our cooking until he articulated it for us.The peculiar gift that enables Vegas to look at, say, a disappointing eggs Florentine (actually his best dish; he poaches “a really good egg”) and see the eternal thwarting of human dreams has become his most endearing quality. If they know his work at all, fans stopping him in the street are most likely to mention the monkey ads (for ITV Digital and then PG Tips) or the current hit ITV sitcom Benidorm. Most, however, simply remember him describing his struggles with life’s mundane details and “just seem to see me as a lad from down the road who’s been among people he shouldn’t have been among. They don’t know what I do at all. Maybe they think I’m someone who is continually winning competitions.”
The 38-year-old Lancastrian (real name: Michael Pennington) rents a flat in North London and spends a lot of time in Dublin, where his girlfriend, Maia Dunphy, lives. But because his production company, Woolyback, is based in his native St Helens, and because so much TV production has shifted to the North West, most of his work is now done there.
In London today to promote his new DVD, Live at the Benidorm Palace, he sits in the bar of an expensive, media-type West End members’ club, in black baseball cap, black T-shirt, jeans and black Converse; they are good-quality casual clothes that could have been carefully chosen to look effortless but decent. He is more intellectual, and far smaller (5ft 6in) and somehow prettier than you expect; his arms and hands are as slender and pale as those of a Jane Austen heroine, although those of a Jane Austen heroine would not be getting through the fags at such a prodigious rate (he is discreetly positioned behind some plants; the staff who see him smoking pretend not to notice).
Having been famously, fabulously fat — his 2005 chat show was called 18 Stone of Idiot — he has lost 6st in the past 12 months, “just by eating better in general”. His chief motivation was health: a newspaper feature cited him as a “fatty smoker” who would be refused treatment on the NHS, his doctor gave him a talking to, then, as if to underline the warnings, he got gout — yes, gout — which apparently causes a terrible pain in the joints.
He has also drastically reduced his formerly high alcohol intake. A couple of years ago he was seen standing on a Benidorm hotel balcony at 8am repeatedly shouting “I’m Johnny fucking Vegas” and throwing furniture to the ground. ITV bosses claimed this was a rehearsal; this may or may not be true, but Vegas says now that his excessive drinking led to a point where he was “burning bridges and taking things for granted” and jeopardising his career.
To be fair, he did face a particular problem. “Johnny Vegas” was originally a stand-up persona with which Pennington made his reputation in the mid-1990s. When he was offered other work, he kept the name because he thought that it seemed a bit pretentious to drop it when that was what everyone knew him as. The trouble was that Vegas the character is a maudlin self-pitying drunk and these qualities were partly based on similar tendencies in Pennington himself, although he strives to control them.
“It meant that people were quite happy to sit with me in a pub when I was maudlin and shitfaced, and they didn’t want me to be any different, because I was fulfilling all the ideas of what they thought I was. I could be sat in the pub in clothes I had had on for five days and they’d still say, ‘Great, I’ve just had a pint with Johnny Vegas!’ No one is sitting around saying, ‘Isn’t this a shame?’ But I almost wanted to let people know I was hurting.”
The chief motivation to sort himself out was seeing his son, Michael, growing up. There was the chilling moment when he realised that blurring the line between being a real-life drunken idiot and a fictional one may be artistically daring, but as something your dad did, it was potentially off-the-scale embarrassing. “I don’t want to be a dad who is a role model for being a drunk,” he sighs. “Projecting that image is part of my bread and butter, but there’s also a responsibility to do with what his mates might think.”
Vegas’s 2002 marriage to Michael’s mother, Kitty Donnelly, broke up in 2004 amid mutual accusations of drinking and bullying; they were divorced last year. He spends every other weekend with Michael, usually in St Helens; there will be a sleepover at Vegas’s sister’s house (she has a son of similar age), “something middle-class and remotely educational” or vegging in front of the TV on Saturdays. (“You don’t want to plonk him down in front of the telly because your time together is precious, but as a kid what would you rather do? The best I can do is to hide the PlayStation.”) On Sundays, besides brunch (“I pride myself on cooking for Michael”), there is church. Raised a Roman Catholic, Vegas began training to be a priest when he was 11. The “double standards” of the priests put him off his career, although he still has faith and finds church worship “a very relaxing experience, a comfort. Like sitting down to a meal that reminds you of something your mum used to cook”.
This linking of family and spirituality is telling; the Penningtons are close, and ensuring that Michael junior gets to know his extended family is very important. Vegas grew up the youngest of four children and took his father, a joiner “with very strong moral values”, as his personal hero — although, he says, he has belatedly come to appreciate the endurance and hard work of his mother, who worked part-time as a cleaner and for a catering company.
Vegas studied art and ceramic design at Middlesex University but drifted into bar work (and drinking) until he got into stand-up comedy. He won the Edinburgh Festival Critics’ Award in 1997 and his work since includes TV ads, Dickensian and Shakespearean drama for the BBC, various films, Benidorm and the cult comedy Ideal on BBC Three. He is developing a puppet-based show for BBC children’s television with the Dublin-based puppeteers who were behind The Big Breakfast’s Zig and Zag.
The only big setback came last year, as a result of a review of a stand-up gig. On stage, in character, Vegas will often make lewd suggestions to people in the audience and sometimes touch them, and himself, in sexually suggestive ways. He argues that it is part of the process of discomforting people, and that those who come to his show know what to expect. Last year a Guardian reviewer accused him of sexually assaulting a woman audience member.
Accusations and rumours flew. “It snowballed and suddenly people were e-mailing me saying I should be in prison,” he says. “It became quite vitriolic and grew into a sort of campaign. For a couple of days it was a little bit frightening, and it shows how one incident can throw a career into a tailspin. I thought it could become very public and very bitter, but I was going: ‘Well, it should be; I should clear my name.’ But you learn over time that most things in the press are there for a week and then gone.”
He consulted lawyers, but his divorce settlement negotiations meant that he couldn’t afford to pursue the case. As it happened, the woman concerned offered to make a statement denying that the incident constituted assault and, perhaps because the tabloids ignored the story, sensing a potential libel, it died away. Vegas did stop performing as a stand-up comedian for a time, though, and now feels a self-consciousness about the act that he didn’t have before.
There are no such issues with Live at the Benidorm Palace, in which he makes his act work for an audience more mainstream than his usual one. As he discovered, Spain’s tourist coast has a thriving subculture of 1970s clubland-type audiences and performers. “I thought they were going to hate me,” he says. “It ended up feeling like a very odd social experiment.”
In fact, he seems to win through easily, thanks to those powers of observation and empathy — which brings us back to his brunches. Can he share his eggs Florentine secret, I wonder? The cigarette bobs about enthusiastically again. “Yes. The thing is to not have the water boiling, to add a drop of vinegar but not too much, and not to stir too fast. If you stir too fast, it throws all the whites off and by the time it comes back together it’s a mess.”
Johnny Vegas Live at the Benidorm Palace is out on DVD
My perfect weekend
City or country?
London or Lancashire?
Sunday roast or sushi?
Strictly or X Factor?
Neither. BBC Four
Benidorm or Bognor?
Bognor. The English seaside is my ultimate day out
Family night in or pub?
It depends on which family members. Please don’t make me choose
Dickens or Shakespeare?
Gin or Guinness?
Fry-up or fruit salad?
Neither. What I love is brunch. I can’t do fry-ups. I can’t bring all the elements together to be ready at the same time
I can’t get through the weekends without . . .
Scrubs on TV. It would be The Waltons, but no one’s screening it now
Posted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:14 pm Post subject: Johnny Vegas
Hiya Face.... will be posting JOHNNY VEGAS LIVE IN BENIDORM tommorow afternoon... where would you like me to post it.. In Stand Up.. or in this Vegas thread.... Uploading overnight, hopefully if cat dont run over keyboard...lol
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