Easy peasy Lemon squeezy
Steve Pratt finds that Keith Lemon is enjoying some happy landings around the country as he promotes a movie of the same name
THE scene was reminiscent of Beatlemania. Cheering fans waving banners and bearing gifts being restrained by barriers and security guards as they eagerly awaiting the arrrival of their hero. The side door of Vue cinema in Leeds opened and a familiar figure – bleached hair, ginger moustache and fake tan – entered, waving his arms and muttering something about “bang tidy”.
The Lemon has landed. A helicopter had flown Celebrity Juice star Keith Lemon around the country on a hectic day-long publicity tour to meet fans and promote his first movie, the amazingly- titled Keith Lemon: The Movie.
His home city of Leeds is the final touchdown after flying visits to Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. “Yeah, I’m tired,” he says in his familiar Yorkshire accent.
“It’s weird flying about. Like dreams. We were talking about when you travel first class and that you don’t want to go back to economy, now I don’t want to go back to the tube because I’ve been in a helicopter.”
Lemon has a hit in his Celebrity Juice show on ITV2 with Fearne Cotton and Holly Willoughby, and recently fronted a Jim’ll Fix It type show Lemonaid for ITV1. His new reality show Lemon La Vida Loca, about the trails and tribulations of his life with girlfriend Rosie, has just started on ITV2.
“It’s weird coming back to Leeds and a reception like this. When I usually come back to see me mum I’ve got a scarf and a hat on and no one knows it’s me walking around.
“I’m chuffed. I’m just disappointed I never see any of me mates when I come back. Though they might come down and say hello because I don’t get as much time to come back up as I used to.
“I don’t care. One of me mates called me today. He said we’re thinking of coming down on the Saturday of the premiere and I said, ‘I’m not staying in me house, I’m staying in ‘otel so I’m closer to town’. He said, ‘I can’t afford ‘otel’ and I said, ‘I’m not paying for ya’.
So he probably won’t come.”
LEMON has some more famous friends now. Of course Holly and Fearne make guest appearances in his movie as do David Hasselhoff, Verne Troyer, Gary Barlow and Jedward to name four more (or should that be five – do Jedward count as two?). He also shares an intimate bedroom scene with the oh-so-sexy Kelly Brook.
Considering his TV success, it was only a matter of time before the movies discovered him. “I bumped into an old friend of mine who’s a director at a Lionsgate premiere and he said we should make a film with them. I said I’d love to and on the Wednesday we were in Lionsgate discussing a film idea,” recalls Lemon.
“And then that was in development for three years. Anyway they got funding and they said oh we’re going to make it next year and I said you’re not because I’m too busy. And they went right, we start in two weeks and I went ‘Ace’.”
MUCH of the filming was done in Belfast. “There are loads of cameos. I was in a text relationship, I would say, with Gary Barlow thanks to Fearne Cotton. I asked him if he’d be in the film and he said if he was around he’d do it. I thought he won’t do it. Then he turned up and it was amazing.”
He and Brook promoted the movie at the Cannes film festival. That was amazing, he says (most things Lemon experiences are amazing). “I learnt it’s not called Cans. It’s called Can. And I can remember being sat on a balcony with Kelly Brook, me glass was never empty and I’m being interviewed by I don’t know how many people and they said what are your hopes for the film?
“I said just what’s happening now is big enough, I can’t believe I’m here. If me Leeds mates were with me now they’d kick me head in. I just couldn’t believe it, sat on this balcony watching boats coming in.
“I kept thinking how did I get here? Luckily, I’ve written a book about it, it’s out in November. It’s called Being Keith. Pronounced with an f but written with a t-h.”
SURELY Keith Lemon is a brand now, instantly recognised in the world of entertainment. “I don’t know, am I a brand? I don’t really understand what I am really. If I’m honest, I’m just having a good time and luckily people are enjoying me having a good time. So I’m just having fun,” he says.
With recognition comes fan adulation.
“Well, I can’t go to Sainsburys and buy potatoes,” he says. “It’s like being followed by loads to turkeys. It’s weird because I did Lemonaid, which was a family show, and also the late night stuff.
When little kids come up to you and say things you said on Celebrity Juice, I always think did their parents let them watch it…”
Clearly some of the fans in Leeds aren’t old enough to see what will be a 15 certificate movie. His own favourite films include Rambo. “I like Rambo First Blood and all the Back To The Future films. They’re my films, and you’ll know I love Rambo when you see the film.”
His reality show Lemon La Vida Loca promises to bring us the real Keith Lemon (though not a word to his alter ego Leigh Francis) in advance of the release of his film later this month. His mum has already seen a rough cut. “She said she was surprised how warm it was.
“When we wrote it, we started off with let’s make a right nice film. We got this story down and everything and then we filthied it all up. We thought it was too nice. We did a couple of test screenings and the reaction was ‘not rude enough’.
So we’ve made it a bit naughtier.”
HE’S already writing the sequel, the equally imaginative Keith Lemon: The Film 2. “I don’t mess about, I like to get going,” he says.
“And hopefully we’ll do more Lemon La Vida Loca because I really enjoyed doing that and I get to exploit me job.
Just like Peter Andre when he does a calendar shoot and gets a free holiday out of it. I said I’ll do a calendar shoot, can I do it in Marbella?”
- Lemon La Vida Loca continues on ITV2 on Thursday at 10pm Keith Lemon: The Movie