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All you need to know about Keith Lemon, from his real name to his origins

Keith Lemon is one of Leigh Francis' many comedy characters

keith lemon
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
May 26, 2020
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With the recent news that Holly Willoughby is leaving Celebrity JuiceKeith Lemon fans have been left wondering what's next for the larger-than-large presenter. While Keith himself remains uncertain over what the future holds for the show, we're sure that his cheeky antics will keep us laughing for years to come! Keith fans may be surprised to learn, however, that the rib-tickling, curly-haired presenter is simply just one of many characters, created by a comedic genius. So, who is the main behind Keith Lemon? Find out everything you need to know here...

MORE: Meet Keith Lemon's family, from his wife to his kids

What is Keith Lemon's real name?

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. 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."

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Keith is one of Leigh's personas

Leigh rarely does interviews as himself, usually opting to choose one of his character's personas instead. 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."

SEE: Keith Lemon's wife Jill looks just like Kate Middleton in gorgeous rare photo

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Keith Lemon on The Keith & Paddy Picture Show

Where is Keith Lemon from?

Keith (or Leigh, we should say) was born and raised in Leeds. He was born in Beeston before being brought up in Old Farnley. He now resides in North London with his wife, Jill Carter, and recently shared a rare look inside his home with a truly epic bar.

His television work and characters

Leigh has an impressive filmography, as has starred as Keith Lemon in shows including Keith Lemon: Coming in America, The Keith and Paddy Picture Show and Lemon la Vida Loca. Although Keith is his most famous persona, Leigh stole the show in Bo! Selecta, where his most famous roles included playing Avid Merrion and impersonating Craig David, Michael Jackson and the Osbournes

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Leigh played Avid Merrion

Has he ever broken character?

Leigh once broke tradition by attending the Tric Awards as himself 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."

MORE: Keith Lemon opens up life with daughters Matilda and Dolly during the lockdown

Leigh with his wife Jill at the Tric Awards

Even Leigh's friends occasionally get confused by his different personalities, and Fearne Cotton, former 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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