HomeTV and MoviesJason Manford on his ’embarrassing’ job, fluctuating weight and life with six kids – The Sun
Jason Manford on his ’embarrassing’ job, fluctuating weight and life with six kids – The Sun
HAVING six kids at the age of 38 is no laughing matter for Jason Manford.
In fact, the comedian says his expanding brood has had disastrous consequences . . . on his transport.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, Jason said: “Every new child you have after three gives you a slightly crappier selection of cars you can drive.
“All the nice cars are off the list, you can’t get any of those, so you end up with a second-hand Seat Alhambra which fits everybody in and their bikes.
“That’s one of the worst things about having six kids.”
I met up with Jason in Manchester this week following the announcement of his new 120-date stand-up tour.
And despite having had root canal surgery just hours earlier, Jason was in good spirits, perhaps buoyed by a 7am jog with his kids.
Just about getting the words out his numbed mouth, he told how his oldest daughters, ten-year-old twins, did not get their chosen high school in a recent application, prompting a family discussion about sending them to a fee-paying grammar school.
He explains: “If they did go to grammar schools I just don’t think I could ever forget what it was costing me, especially with the amount of kids I’ve got.
“Every time they came home from school I’d say, ‘What have you done today?’. They’d be like, ‘Been in the sandpit’, and I’d respond, ‘You’d better have built the Pyramids for that price’.”
He adds: “It’s like £10,000 a year, That’s a lot of money to find every year for every kid.”
Jason has four children — the twins and a daughter and son — with first wife Catherine and his youngest two, a girl and boy, with Lucy Dyke, a TV producer, who he married in 2017.
Jason always wanted a big family, but admits he did not foresee having quite so many children.
He says: “I’m one of five, my mum’s one of 11, so it’s always been a normal thing in my world — but not necessarily six.
“But things change, I got to a point where I was in a new relationship and it’s not fair your past affects somebody else’s future, so you add it all up and think, ‘I want her to be happy’.”
He jokes: “She wanted a baby, I didn’t want a baby so we compromised — and we had a baby”.
His support network in Manchester, which includes his mum, is a reason why he never made the move down south.
He explains: “I’ve seen Peter Kay and Paddy McGuinness stay up here and felt, ‘Do I really need to move down there?’. It’s only two hours on the train.
“My kids would be so posh if they moved to London. I like having my family close by.
"My uncle drives me to gigs and I live close enough to my brother for him to ring me up and ask if I can help rip out his old decking.”
Jason’s recent touring schedule has seen him on the road six months a year, but the rest of the time he can pick up usual dad duties like taking the kids to sleepovers and ferrying them to parties.
The comedian, who is hosting theatreland’s Olivier Awards for the third successive year next month, is nearing the end of touring musical mystery comedy Curtains, in which he plays detective Frank Cioffi.
It is the fifth stage role of his career, which also includes lead parts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Producers.
In September he kicks off his 120-date arena comedy tour called Like Me which has a double meaning, playing on the nation’s fascination of being liked and Jason’s acknowledgement that his fanbase share many similarities with him.
But he fears the mammoth tour may play havoc with his “fluctuating weight” courtesy of all those late finishes.
'I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY JOB'
He says: “No one is selling a salad at midnight. When you’re on health kick and you want to lay off the carbs, you’re like ‘Peperami?’ ‘Fridge Raiders?’.
“I fluctuate a hell of a lot. I’ve just been on holiday with an all-you-can-eat buffet and my wife says to me, ‘It’s not a challenge, it’s just a description of the food’.
“I say, ‘I pay the bills, I know how much this is costing’. At one point I had five different countries’ breakfasts on one plate.”
Despite his success, Jason admits he sometimes feels guilty about not having a “proper job”.
And he says he can see the contempt from some family members when he complains about being tired. He explains: “My uncles and brothers don’t see it as work.
“I can see them seething about it, like, ‘Yeah, you must be tired talking for two hours a night’.
“To them, what I do is not a proper job — and I do project that a little bit.
“I’m slightly embarrassed sometimes about what I do. I’m very lucky I’m in a job that pays well and I love it — and that’s so rare, that’s like two per cent of the population.
“So it’s a privilege to do that job and for people to do whatever job they do and earn money to pay to come and see you do your job. So I feel bad about it.
“I take my family on holidays and give them what they need, and part of that comes down to a bit of guilt that showbiz does pay well.
To my family, what I do is not a proper job — and I do project that a little bit.
“But my mum spent 20 years working her ass off as a nurse and that’s a proper job.”
Away from comedy, Jason hosts a Sunday morning show on Absolute Radio and presents Saturday night game show First & Last on BBC1.
He has also written and starred in kids’ animated series Daisy & Ollie which will soon be on Channel 5 morning show Milkshake.
Jason hopes the success of his prime-time BBC1 game show, where contestants attempt to avoid finishing first or last during wacky games, will be given a second series.
And he jokes: “I’ve got to a point where if this doesn’t get a second series, I might knock game shows on the head.
“I’ve had a good go at them now and I can safely say I have not got a clue want people want.”
Jason adds that he was surprised BBC1 comedy series Scarborough, in which he appeared alongside former Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley, was not renewed after the first series ended last October.
He says: “I think it suffered because it wasn’t a traditional sitcom. Even now when I watch the odd episode, it’s not a gag a minute, it was like a funny soap, like when Corrie used to be really funny.
“And it certainly wasn’t really a good fit for a Friday night, that didn’t do it any favours.
“It felt to me like a nice Sunday night series, like a modern day Last Of The Summer Wine and could have run for five to six years.”
But that has not put him off sitcoms forever. He is now planning to write his own.
Jason adds: “I’m friends with Peter Kay and, as much as he’s a fabulous stand-up comic, the thing that sets him apart from other comics was doing sitcom Phoenix Nights, and letting people fall in love with the characters he created.
“It’s certainly something I’ll explore at some point.”
Jason Manford’s Like Me UK Tour runs from September 2020 to October 2021. Tickets and dates at JasonManford.com.
JASON still can’t believe he beat opera star Katherine Jenkins on the way to finishing runner-up in hit TV series The Masked Singer.
Dressed as Hedgehog, he was only pipped to first place by Girls Aloud’s Nicola Roberts.
But Jason very nearly rejected the ITV show. He reveals: “I turned it down when the offer first came because I thought it was a reality singing celebrity show, which it is really.
“I know people behind the scenes and they said, ‘I can guarantee there are no reality stars’, and I know that sounds quite snobbish, but it does raise the bar at bit.”
Having stayed away from catchphrases during his career, Jason has avoided having fans shout obvious things at him on the street.
But he was concerned his spiky character would change that and see him heckled. He says: “I was worried I’d get called ‘pr**k’ because of Hedgehog.”