Keith Lemon on Through the Keyhole

Meet the man behind Keith Lemon: Leigh Francis

Keith Lemon is one of Leigh Francis' many comedy characters

Emmy Griffiths

We all love Keith Lemon's cheeky antics on Celebrity Juice and more recently, Through the Keyhole, but did you know that the larger-than-large, curly-haired presenter is simply just one of many characters? The man behind the persona is Leigh Francis, a qualified graphic designer who made his break into showbiz after Davina McCall happened to see him performing stand-up comedy in one of his roles. Leigh saw his first major success with Bo' Selecta! a sketch show in which the comedian played different celebrities in masks.


Fearne opened up about the differences between Keith and Leigh

Speaking to On Magazine about his television success, the dad-of-two said: "When I was making that stuff I had no intentions of being on TV. I was a graphic designer, so that's what I thought I would become one day. I used to make silly videos and models." Leigh rarely does interviews as himself, usually opting to choose one of his character's personas instead, and in a rare interview he spoke about why he prefers being interviewed as one of his personas, telling On: "People have said to me I should do more interviews as myself but I feel a bit egotistical sat talking about myself. I'm not Leigh Francis the stand-up comedian. I sell my ideas – so when I'm promoting my ideas I tend to do it in character. I don't really harp on about my personal life. Not that I'm especially private or anything it's just I don't think people are interested really."

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Keith Lemon on Through the Keyhole

Leigh once broke tradition by attending the Tric Awards as himself at the request of his wife, Jill Carter. Speaking to The Sun, he explained: "I promised her Keith wouldn’t be there so we could just have a bit of time on our own being normal. You can tell it's me instead of Keith because I've got my hair tied back into a tiny bun… I don't want anyone to know who I really am - I prefer being Keith. Everyone goes a bit weird when it's just me."

READ: Leigh Francis - Keith Lemon star - posts rare public tribute to his wife on anniversary


Leigh with his wife Jill at the Tric Awards

Even Leigh's friends occasionally get confused by his different personalities, and Fearne Cotton, who is a panellist on Celebrity Juice, opened up about being his friend. Chatting on Sunday Brunch, she said: "The margins are now blurring from real Leigh Francis to Keith Lemon, and I am like, 'Are you in character? Or are you just being you, but being a bit weird?' He is the loveliest guy. He's a genius, he just won a BAFTA. He is a genius, a complete genius." Speaking about the differences between Leigh and Keith, she added: "There is a difference when you are sat with Leigh. He's a dad, he's got kids and then when he is Keith when he can get away with anything, he is just pushing the boundaries and ridiculous."

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