If you’ve heard about an arts-and-crafts competition coming to TV, Keith Lemon wouldn’t be the first person to come to mind when considering a host – but that’s exactly what he’s doing with new Channel 4 show The Fantastical Factory of Curious Craft with Anna Richardson.
In fact, 46-year-old Keith – real name Leigh Francis – actually studied Art and Design at Leeds Arts University. He crafts every day at home on his YouTube channel and has even drawn an impressive self-portrait on the back of the kitchen counter in ITV’s This Morning studio!
In a very open chat with our sister publication Woman’s Own, he reveals all on his secret talent and working-class background – all peppered with a few of his classic, naughty answers!
Your new show The Fantastical Factory of Curious Craft is quite a big step in a different direction for you, isn’t it?
I do actually craft a lot at home, so when it came along, me friends all said, ‘This show was made for you!’ And it was so funny, I was doing Celebrity Juice at the same time, so I’d be playing with dildos and then I’d walk into the factory, and be asked, ‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ by my mum! It was so joyous and I think it kept me sane whilst also being a really naughty, drunken man on telly.
That’s right, your real-life mum Pat is the tea lady on the show. What has it been like working with her?
She was really enjoying herself. She’s a very happy person – she’s never negative at all – so it was fun. There was actually one day when Anna [Richardson] said to me mum, ‘Pat, do you still have sex?’ And she was like, ‘Well, you know, sometimes Anna, I do it myself!’
We’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation!
It did sometimes feel like I was in a strange reality show, because I’m so used to an audience, and I didn’t always realise there was a camera watching me, because you’re just wandering aroundin the factory chatting to people. And I’m worse than Louis Walsh for gossip, me!
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever made?
Before I was on telly, I used to make a lot of home videos and made a spoof of Jurassic Park, including a 5ft T-Rex that you could get inside. It was too big to stay in my small, humble council house, so me mate, who was posh, kept it in his porch. I was always making stuff. I was on a show a couple of years ago where they sent me back to where
I grew up, and the owners of my old house still have all my props in the loft, including my Gremlins and Jabba the Hutt. They said people have offered them money but they said no – I would’ve sold it!
Did you used to watch arty shows when you were younger?
I loved to make stuff on Blue Peter when I was a kid. And actually, one year, my mum was really ill, so didn’t work much, so I entered loads of competitions on Timmy Mallett’s Wide Awake Club, and won, because I’m right good at drawing.
I kept all the prizes and gave them to me mum and said, ‘You give me those for Christmas,’ because she didn’t have money, so I had to pretend I was surprised on Christmas Day.
You posted an amazing throwback of you aged 20 recently, with long, curly, ginger hair!
Yeah, it was when Mick Hucknall was younger and women found him more attractive. It worked really well for me!
Lastly, what are you looking forward to after lockdown?
I want to go to a restaurant and eat out, and I also want to go to the cinema. It’s weird, when I’ve got nothing to do, I’ll just go watch a film, so I’m missing that and obviously just seeing all my friends. I drink loads, so it’s been tough not going to a pub – I’m getting tired of Zoom drinking!
The Fantastical Factory of Curious Craft, Sundays at 8pm on Channel 4