TELEVISION favourite Paddy McGuinness talks to Nick Jackson about fame, the future — and how he was scared to leave his job at Horwich Leisure Centre

BOLTON TV star Paddy McGuinness has revealed how difficult it was to take the agonising “leap of faith” to become a professional entertainer.

The 40-year-old presenter of hit Saturday night dating show Take Me Out told how he was reluctant to quit his job at Horwich Leisure Centre where he worked as a manager, fitness instructor and lifeguard for more than seven years before becoming a TV hit.

Even as he was rising to fame alongside fellow Boltonians Peter Kay and Dave Spikey, filming episodes of the acclaimed Phoenix Nights, he continued his shifts at the leisure centre.

Paddy, whose model wife Christine Martin gave birth to twins Leo Joseph and Penelope Patricia in July, said: “I was still working in the leisure centres for both series.

“For the second series, I had a contract as a full-time fitness instructor, so they gave me a bit of time off.

“It was only when we did Max and Paddy that I took the plunge and left. It was funny, because Chris Jackson, who was manager and who is still there, said when I announced my decision to go full-time into the entertainment business ‘Oh, are you sure?’ “I can tell you, it was the right decision.”

And Paddy told how his pal and fellow comedy star John Bishop had the same dilemma.

He added: “You’d see him on the comedy circuit doing all the clubs and I used to say ‘when are you going to give it a whirl?’ And he’d say ‘I’m not sure’.

“For most working class lads, if you’re not working, you’re not earning. So to take a leap of faith and quit a job for a career with no guarantees is a very big thing.”

But rising to the top of the entertainment industry never entered Paddy’s head when his long-time pal Peter Kay included him in his plans.

He said: “I thought it would be a bit of a laugh.

“Like any young lad, I think I was only about 22 at the time, you think ‘this’ll get me girls and earn me some money’.

“When you’re young you don’t think about mortgages.”

Paddy is keen to point out his rise to TV stardom has been by no means meteoric and he has had time to adjust to becoming a household name.

He added: “I think people forget I’ve been doing telly for 15 years. And it’s been a long process to get to the stage I am now at.

“Everyone sees I’ve got this Saturday night show and they think, ‘where’s he come from?’ “But getting to this stage has been a slow burner and I’m kind of used to it.”

Regardless of his fame, former Mount St Joseph High School pupil Paddy has been determined to remain close to his Bolton roots.

He said: “I still live in Bolton and I still see all my mates. I still play football with all the pals I worked with. My life is exactly the same as before, apart from having a nicer house.

“As my career developed, transport links to London became better. It’s two hours now on the train.

“I go down in the morning, and I’m back home for tea time. It’s mad, because I’ve got mates who’ve never been to London. To me it’s just part of the game. I’ve found it easy to fulfil my TV commitments by commuting between Bolton and London.”

And Paddy is unfazed by any thoughts of falling off the top of the TV tree.

He added: “You’re not guaranteed anything. With Take Me Out, it does all right, people enjoy it, and ITV like it. But literally, every series I finish of it, I think ‘right, if I get the call, I’ll be back in’.

“I never take anything for granted in this job, but it’s amazing. I caught Celebrity Big Brother the other week and Jim Davidson was in there. He was the biggest star in the UK and it just makes you think how things change.”