Keith Lemon, real name Leigh Francis, is best known for his stand-up comedy acts, creating Channel 4 show Bo' Selecta! and for presenting ITV2's popular game show, Celebrity Juice, as well as the hugely popular Through the Keyhole. The 45-year-old is notoriously private about his life away from the spotlight, so much so that he prefers to stay in character as his alter-ego Keith Lemon. Leigh married his wife, beauty therapist Jill Carter, in 2002 in Yorkshire, and the couple share daughters Matilda and Dolly, who are both kept out of the spotlight by their protective parents. Jill, however, occasionally appears on Leigh's social media accounts, and last year accompanied her husband to Emma and Matt Willis' star-studded wedding renewal party.
What is Keith Lemon's net worth?
According to website Celebrity Net Worth, Leigh is estimated to be worth $10million, which is converted to £8million. Leigh was first discovered by TV presenter Davina McCall in the nineties while he was doing stand-up comedy shows in a southern comedy club. Davina suggested that he should join the cast of Dom & Kirk's Nite O Plenty in 1996, which marked the beginning of his successful career. On the show, Keith played Bobby Stark, who was famous for giving tips on how to date women. Leigh then went on to star as Barry Gibson on Channel 4 show Popworld. It was then in 2002 that the TV personality shot to fame when he starred on his own show, Bo! Selecta, on Channel 4. There, Keith Lemon was invented, while his previous characters Barry and Bobby also featured. Bo! Selecta ran from 2002 to 2006, and featured Leigh's good friend Davina, as well as other celebrities including Tess Daly, Patsy Kensit and Craig David.
Keith Lemon's real name is Leigh Francis
Through the Keyhole
Keith has presented Through the Keyhole since 2013 when the show was revived. Its original host, Sir David Frost, died on the same day that the new series aired, although his death was not made public until the following day. David had given his backing for the ITV remake, saying: "I am delighted that the Keyhole format is now entering its fourth decade on TV. I know the pilot show went down very well with the studio audience and I wish Keith and his team the very best of luck for the series." Different celebrities join Keith on the panel show, and this Saturday evening, the comedian will have guests Danny Dyer, Sally Phillips and Chris Kamara.
Celebrity Juice and TV success
In 2008, Leigh was given his own comedy panel show, Celebrity Juice, alongside team captains Holly Willoughby and Fearne Cotton. The successful show has been running for ten years, and has seen everyone from Eamonn Holmes to Emma Bunton appear on it. The programme has picked up a number of awards over the years, including the 2012 and 2017 National Television Awards, and a BAFTA in 2012. Leigh, along with Holly and Fearne, enjoy a close friendship off screen, and Fearne invited both Leigh and Holly – who she has known for many years - to her wedding to Jesse Wood in 2014. Leigh spoke about the fun they have behind-the-scenes of Celebrity Juice in a recent interview on Good Morning Britain, revealing that there is a very different side to Holly. "Celebrity Juice is very boozy," he said. "[Holly's] like an old man with a brown paper bag underneath [her table]. She looks like an angel… but she's always at it."
Leigh was born in Leeds in April 1973, and studied at art school at the Leeds College of Art, where he completed a course in graphic design. It was during this time that Leigh met Jill in a pub during a night out. The family reside in north London, and are notoriously private, but Leigh once broke tradition by attending the Tric Awards as himself rather than in character at the request of Jill. 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."
The Celebrity Juice presenter with his wife Jill Carter
Why is Leigh always Keith Lemon?
While Keith is a confident character, Leigh couldn't be more different. The TV personality told On magazine the reason he chooses to be someone else, revealing: "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." However, Leigh's friends occasionally get confused by his different personalities, and his former Celebrity Juice co-host Fearne previously 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."
Leigh enjoys spending time with Celebrity Juice pals Holly and Fearne
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." Fearne also told Metro that Leigh is the "opposite of his character" and that as a result, people get confused when they meet him in real life. "He might not want to have a selfie," she said.
Who inspired Keith Lemon?
Leigh has revealed to On magazine that Keith Lemon was inspired by his friend in Leeds, who shares the moniker. He said: "My best friend in Leeds is called Keith Lemon, he was also the best man at my wedding and I’ve known him since I was three. Plus there's elements of a family member which I best not say. I don't know if he'll be pleased. When I showed him some stuff he went: 'Leigh, there's people like that!' I went, 'Yeah, there is isn't there!' He doesn't get the joke and it's so based on him."
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.