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I TALK TO Keith Lemon

Following a successful first series, Keith Lemon is back on ITV2 from Thursday 4th February with a second series of The Keith Lemon Sketch Show, with a host of new characters as well as some old favourites.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I love nothing more than a good ol’ natter with Mr Lemon, so when I found out that the new series of The Keith Lemon Sketch Show was just around the corner, I knew it was time for a catch-up!

It was on the sad day that David Bowie passed away, that I headed into Central London to chat to Keith, who was wearing red shoes in tribute to the late singer, and he began by talking about the much loved singer and a tweet he’d posted that morning...

Well I had an experience and someone tweeted me saying "Re-read your tweet and look at yourself in the mirror", I went why? and they said "self-promotion"! And I thought no I'm not, I'm just telling the experience of David Bowie that I had.

Isn't all Twitter self promotion? So I thought, why do I care what you had for dinner... BLOCK! So much blockage and mutage on Twitter. It's full of fucking pricks ain't it?! (Laughs)

It's horrible when there's nice people and you go, oh I do want to stay on it because they're nice. There's a lady who tweets me every single day and sends me gifts, she's nice.

So, onto the series now then. New series, new characters?

Loads! So many that I can't even remember! I might have to get me phone out to have a look at some of the pictures I tweet for self-promotion...

(Keith then gets his phone out). This will be easier than me going "Erm...". Sorry, I'm rubbish aren't I? It's because of the Christmas break, I wipe it all out of my mind.

(Having now found the right folder in his phone) Emma Willis is in there, Nick Grimshaw, Rita Ora, George Lucas, Russell Brand, Noel Fielding, Ellie Goulding & Dougie Pointer, Caroline Flack & Olly Murs, Jessie J, Paloma Faith, Prince, and Mick Hucknall.

With him we've done Neighbours From Hell. Imagine living next door to Mick Hucknall?! I'm a Simply Red fan and went to see him over Christmas, but he doesn't come across as the happiest man, I don't think.

So this couple move in next door to Mick Hucknall, but it's horrible so they move away and move next door to Paul Weller... and he's even worse, and I've met him. I enjoy his misery though.

Another thing we’ve done is, you know Educating Yorkshire? We’ve done Educating Hogwarts, Harry Potter is a little bastard in it.

Oh and Gail Platt, she’s good. We’ve done Gail Platt vs Predator. Little Mix, we do One Direction vs Little Mix on Family Fortunes and Emily Atack plays Jessy amazingly!

Is Paddy McGuinness back?

Yes. Me and Paddy are doing lots of films again, one of them is Toy Story. We do Rocky (he then shows me a brilliant pic of him as Rocky on his phone), and then we swap roles because actually Paddy makes a better Rocky than I do.

What about the Urban Fox?

The fox is back! He had a friend that was a hedgehog, that died, but then he looks at another hedgehog and is convinced that it's the same one, but the hedgehog gets vexed because he says "Everyone thinks we all look the same"!

He's palier with the dog this time, because he realises that there aren't many other animals on the street who can talk so they've become friends. He's also friends with a tortoise!

Are there any characters who aren’t back?

We haven’t done Ed Sheehan again this time, because we feel like we’ve done him. A lot of people said they wanted Trollbusters with Phillip Schofield to come back, but we’re not doing that because that was just one idea really. But we did want Phillip Schofield back because he’s such a good sport, and it’s nice to have television establishment in your show.

We haven’t done any Star Wars stuff in this one. We did loads in the first series, and had Carrie Fisher in... which is bad timing. (Laughs) But that’s probably why we got her, before Star Wars came out.

How do you come up with the ideas for the characters and the sketches?

Again, I'm all about self promotion! Haha. I'm really self-indulgent. I went on holiday, and that's when you get most of your ideas, when you're not doing anything.

It's like a curse, and then I came back when we were starting and said right, this is how I want to do it this series, I just want to tell you everyone that I want to be. I don't know what the idea is for who yet, although some of them I had an idea, so I just went "I want to be Frankenstein, I want to be Mick Hucknall, I want to be Paloma Faith"... so we wrote all of these names and characters on the wall and then decided what we could do with those people.

That's how this series worked, and I think it leans a lot more towards celebrity than the first one. We don't just want to lampoon celebrities, but we do this thing called 'Spotted' which is totally ripped out of Heat magazine, where we get characters and just go, Spotted!

It was a good way of discovering new characters, because sometimes a character would happen whilst we were filming. We did Russell Brand spotted in a park and then thought we need to do more Russell Brand, so we did.

The same with George Lucas, we did a show where George Lucas says the funniest things, hosted by Phillip Schofield. He's back.

Anyone that has slagged me off I will never do. Me mam always said, "if you ain't got nothing nice to say, don't say it at all!"

Do you let the celebrities know that they're going to appear in the series?

Yeah. This time I've text pictures of people I've done, to the people that I had phone numbers of. Just so that they don't get all vexed and worried.

Most people were flattered. Emma Willis said she felt like she'd arrived! So that was flattering to me also I guess. With Emma Wills we do Spotted! in B&Q buying padlocks, and what's weird is that I sent her a picture, and you couldn't see B&Q in the background, and she replied saying "Am I in B&Q?!"

I went "Do you recognise the shelves in B&Q?" she went "I love B&Q!" But I think we all go through that stage in our lives where we all go to either Homebase or B&Q just looking at padlocks and man stuff, just to make us feel manly. I know I do. And then when someone comes up to me asking if I need any help, I go "No, just looking" and I am just looking. I'm not going to buy anything! I bought a drill, and I've never drilled.

What about the celebrities from the first series then? Did they all take it well?

Mark Wright was a bit panicky, but then he told me that he thought it was hilarious, but I knew from another source that he was panicking! But he shouldn't be, because again, it's everyone I like.

I send the pics to Holly (Willoughby) and she says that I look better than she does some days... which I never do, because I’ve got a ‘tache! She finds it funny I think, if she didn’t she’d say and I probably wouldn’t do it.

I know the Kardashians are back too... What about Caitlyn Jenner?

I wanted to, but the producer didn't want to for obvious reasons, offending the transgender community, and I thought well if we do it sensitively we won't. But if we don't do it then I'd be offended if I was transgender, because I'm sure they've got senses of humour like people who are not transgender.

Then the commissioner said "You've got to do something", so we did. I said that we should get an attractive lady to play Caitlyn when she leaves Bruce. Obviously I'm Bruce, but when she becomes Caitlyn it's Ashley Roberts, but with my voice.

But Ashley doesn't know that we're going to be outing my voice over the top! And I'm not telling her! (Laughs) She did Back To Future Tribute with us and said she’d love to do more of this stuff, so I said “For real?” and she said yeah, so that were it, she were in!

We probably laugh the most when we’re the Kardashians, because we’re a bunch of blokes in dresses, and the only way we get through the cold is by laughing. Because every time we’re on that caravan park it’s freezing and raining, so we sit in a caravan while they do the lighting and like a bunch of old ladies, sit there gossiping, and laughing, and taking the piss out of each other. We’re terribly two-faced!

Who’s your favourite Kardashian?

Khloe I think... Khloe’s the man one ain’t she? Because she started off as the tall Chewbacca-esque one and slowly has become the fittest, and has got the most chat. I think she’d really score over here if she did telly in England, I think everyone will really embrace her. I remember seeing her filling in for Chelsea Lately and I thought she were really good.

Kim’s always there, so when they focus in on one of the other ones, it’s a bit more interesting I guess.

How long does it take you to get into character?

The longest I think, was in the first series, and that was Simon Cowell. He took 4 hours. But we've got that down now to about two-and-a-half. We've just made the prosthetics simpler.

We were doing a day where we were behind-the-scenes at The X Factor, so I was being almost everyone, so I said we need a quicker way of putting it on and taking it off. So basically, I've got sunglasses on because it isn't stuck down join my eyes, so I can just take it off.

You just go to sleep a lot of the time, because it's 6 in the morning and then you wake up a few hours later and you're Simon Cowell! The most boring thing is taking it off, and it hurts!

With the Fox, they flock your face. They put a rubber nose on you, then they paint you orange, then they out glue on your face, then they put an electric current on your neck and the make up man has a tub of what looks like iron filings, but it's hair, and he shakes it in front of you and when he turns the electric current on they all just stick to your face and stand up on end, so that's why it looks like fur.

It's hard to take off. In the first series I got a black eye from rubbing getting it off... It looks good though!

It's probably the hardest thing I do the Sketch Show, because Juice is one night a week where you get drunk and Keyhole, I walk around people's houses and eat biscuits and on Fridays we have fish and chips and in the studio I basically go "Look at me here" and the panellists have to do the work.

But with this, we started in September, and finished in December and it's early mornings and late finishes. But you know it's worth it when you go into the edit and go "Fucking hell! It looks just like Batman!"

Would you say The Keith Lemon Sketch Show is a passion project?

It is a passion project yeah, I guess it is. Celebrity Juice is more known, and easier to do, same with Keyhole. I imagine we won't do as many series as Juice, because I think there's 130 sketches per series, so it's a hell of a lot of work, and it's not that I'm lazy, it's just really hard for what you get back. If you know what I mean?

You must have been really pleased with the reaction to the first series?

Yeah I was! I mean a couple of people compared it to Bo' Selecta, which I weren't in that much. Going to back to David Bowie, let me tell you my Bowie story.

Jonathan Ross said to me once that he went for dinner with David Bowie, and David Bowie had to get off early because he wanted to watch Bo' Selecta! What the fuck?! So I tweeted that, and someone said I were self promoting. If I were promoting, I'd have said the time and channel. (Laughs)

This series is better than the first series I think. Not that it were rubbish the first one, but we are really excited about this one, even the people who aren't actors who are in it, a lot of them are just my mates, they've learnt a little bit to act... which is weird! I go to them, stop acting. Be shit.

So you've got all the same cast back?

Yeah, all the same people are in it. We've also got Ashley Roberts, and Jessica Hynes and the celeb guests, but I class Jessica Hynes as cast as she's in every episode.

Who does Jessica Hynes play?

She plays the owner of the cartoon job centre, where cartoons that aren’t working anymore go for jobs. Which include the Care Bears, Ronald McDonald... we changed his name for copyright reasons, not because McDonald’s said we can’t, but because we thought it’d be funny if he wasn’t allowed to call himself Ronald McDonald, so he’s called Donald McRonald.

He has a hot dog for a penis, a chocolate doughnut for an asshole and he shits chicken nuggets! That’s why it’s difficult to employ him! (Laughs)

He-Man and Skeleton are in there, because they went down well in the first series. And I don’t think ITV wanted us to do them because they didn’t think that they were relevant.

Is there anyone you wanted to play but didn’t get around to?

No, but the biggest thing we had really big plans for was Cilla Black. We were going to do Cilla Black is Sheridan Smith, we were going to swap roles. We had loads of ace ideas because I’d met Cilla a couple of times, so I knew her a little bit, some of the things she says, but then she died so timing wise we could have got away with it I think.

But the fact that she died, I don’t think it would have made sense anyway. It’s easier not to offend people so we didn’t do it. We never want to offend people, we just want to make people laugh really. It were going to be an ace character, it would have been Cilla in Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, exactly what they did in Cilla, but role reversal.

The Keith Lemon Sketch Show returns Thursday 4th February at 10pm on ITV2


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