The Hairy Biker, 54, on his new charity single, Waiting for the Sun, losing weight and flirting with vegetarianism.
The Hairy Bikers are still going strong on TV!
We get more repeats than a bad pub pie because we’ve got such a huge back catalogue of programmes with the BBC.
It’s always incredibly well received and people do watch it, which is flattering. We’ve shot a new series, which we did last year, that the BBC haven’t released yet. It’ll be shown probably in the autumn…
What is it?
It’s a love letter to the country. It’s Dave [Myers] and I visiting the places that formed our cuisine and the communities we grew up with throughout the north. It was a lovely thing to do.
And we’re just about to start filming on a series that we’re sketching out right now. Hopefully we’ll be able to give the beleaguered hospitality industry a bit of a shot in the arm. And that’s kind of what it’s based around.
So you’re not stepping down?
No. It’s not that I’ve taken any less time to be involved in the Hairy Bikers, I’ve just added more to my workload rather than shift the focus.
You both lost quite a bit of weight. How’s that going?
Initially I lost about four stone and then I had a brain haemorrhage and put a stone-and-a-half back on and now I’m about a stone heavier than I was at my lightest. Dave lost three stone. But we just look really well.
It’s not just about looking slim. As long as your heart’s not under a load of stress and you’re not obese… we’re all made in different shapes and ways. As long as you’re healthy and feel OK about yourself…
Was vegetarianism anything to do with it?
My middle son’s vegan and there’s been a huge shift in responsibility, particularly with that generation, a real sea change in the attitude towards sustainable eating.
My son’s generation have put their money where their mouth is. Even though they don’t have money because they’re all on zero-hours contracts.
So our move towards vegetarianism was more about family and tipping our hat to them. But I only eat meat probably twice a week.
It’s funny how cooking shows focus on meat and fish even though everyone’s cutting back…
There is no risk in broadcasting any more. The people who run it don’t want to take the risk and are not as proactive about what’s happening on the streets as I think anybody that’s on the telly would like.
You can only get on the TV what the commissioners want to commission.
You’re releasing a single — did everyone know you were in a band, Little Moscow, and we just missed it?
No, everyone doesn’t know this because I keep it quiet. Music has always been an important factor in my life but I’ve kept it on the back burner.
Not because you’re embarrassed?
Absolutely not! They’re my best mates and they’re all very accomplished musicians and good men with good moral compasses. We’ve played for upwards of 30 years.
And you leave them high and dry when you’re swanning round the world with the Hairy Bikers?
What we do is, because we’re all multi-instrumentalists, we just rotate and different people take on percussion. We write together as well, which is always a lovely process.
Do you get to sing?
Our new song, Waiting For The Sun, is my vocal. It’s funny for musicians because there’s nowhere to hide — you put your heart and soul into it, and then you put it out there and just hope that people like it, so be kind.
But it’s a community thing. Our idea to perform it live is to approach choirs wherever we perform and give them a contribution from what we get for the gig.
And Waiting For The Sun is in aid of food banks?
We released it because there’s a huge need for food banks and the Trussell Trust provides infrastructure for those food banks so all profits go to them. It’s shocking that people are relying on food banks and it needed highlighting.
If you have a profile, that comes with a level of responsibility to raise awareness — and when you’ve raised awareness people can make their own decisions.
And it’s only available through our website — littlemoscow.net — so no one else gets a nibble of the money that should be going to charity.
So what are the rumours that you’re moving to Australia?
My fiancée was in Australia but unfortunately that relationship broke down, partly because of the distance. We maintained it for a good ten years, backwards and forwards between the UK and Sydney, but unfortunately that’s no longer the case so I’m not going anywhere. Sorry, but you’re stuck with me!
Waiting For The Sun in aid of the Trussell Trust is available from littlemoscow.net.
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