'Everything changed' - Leigh Francis reveals real reason he was inspired to write new memoir

Virgin Radio

23 Feb 2024, 15:47

Credit: Rex / X (@LeighFrancis)

Comedian and Virgin Radio weekends host Leigh Francis has revealed the moment he knew he wanted to put his near-30-year career down on paper. 

The Virgin Radio Saturday afternoons presenter has announced he’s written his life story down for The Autobiography, which promises to answer his most-asked questions including, according to Leigh, “How did you get into TV? How do you come up with your Characters? Are Keith Lemon and Leigh Francis the same person?”

Audiences obviously know Leigh best as his on-screen alter-ego Keith Lemon and the vast array of characters from early-noughties sketch show Bo’ Selecta!, but for the telly star, it became important to show his real life after turning 50. 

“Everything changed,” Leigh confessed during a chat with virginradio.co.uk. “I want to do different things now at 50, that means I can come out, as it were, as myself, where I was always hidden under a mask or a Bear or as a different character. 

“A lot of people don't know that. People think Keith Lemon's my stage name, they don't even get it’s a character. Every time I do a live, people go, ‘Oh, I didn't know Keith was your real name’. And I'm like, ‘it's not my real name.’

It turns out Virgin Radio had a very big hand in that decision, and Leigh was inspired to put all his showbiz experience in a book after being asked by a colleague how he got his start on the small screen. 

Leigh joked: “I wanted to write a book while I'm still relevant, and whilst not too old that I can't remember how I got here.

“I went and started it straightaway before they'd even given me a green light, because I was so excited about the idea of having a book. I think it's such a privilege to have had a lovely career, and to be able to write a book about how it happened.”

Leigh is also just days away from starting his very first live nationwide comedy tour, aptly titled My First Time, which kicks off in Essex on Tuesday (27th February). It seems the real Leigh isn’t leaving his characters behind entirely.

“I just want to try new things,” the Celebrity Juice star added. “I did Portrait Artist of the Year last year. I've Bake Off…with this tour I’m doing, it’s got my name on there because we didn’t know what name to put there because I’m playing lots of different characters.

“I’m playing Myrtle, Amanda Holden’s nan, the Bear, Urban Fox, loads of new masks too!”

Tune in to Leigh Francis on Virgin Radio UK every Saturday from 12.30pm-4pm.

The Autobiography will be published by HarperCollins on 12th September, and tickets for Leigh Francis: My First Time Tour are available to buy on trafalgartickets.com.