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Being a Lemon in Cannes

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I've interviewed a lot of celebrities from A to Z during the last decade and a half, but I've never experienced the feeling I had interviewing Keith Lemon on a balcony in Cannes overlooking the Croisette.

You see, with most interviews you're either talking to the actual real-life human being or their alter ego, which is actually more common than you'd think. A lot of A-listers in particular seem to come across like they're acting in interviews and just reciting a script given to them by their publicist.

But with the comedy TV host Keith Lemon, I feel like I'm interviewing both him and his creator Leigh Francis and I struggle to understand which person I'm talking to.

He may look like Keith with his bandaged hand, ginger moustache (is it real?) and blond mullet and he loves to talk about celebrities (Yvette Fielding, Michael J Fox and Billy Ocean are mentioned several times) but every so often the mask slips and out pops Leigh Francis, answering more intelligently and sincerely.

2012-05-21-KeithandRollo.jpg

L-R Rollo and Keith - or is it Leigh?

He, or rather they, have come to Cannes to launch his/their first feature film and at the start of the interview I think it's Leigh telling me, "I don't know how any of this is happening, I don't know how this is happening" in a warm and genuinely ego-less manner.

But it is happening nonetheless and one of the first things Leigh and Keith want to clear up is about the film's title.

"You might notice that it's called Keith Lemon the Film and not Keith Lemon the Movie" (is this Keith or Leigh?!) "and that's because I wanted to keep it British."

"I think simple ideas are the best and people said to me 'couldn't you think of a name for your film?' and I said 'Well, what's Spider-man called? Spider-man. What's Batman called? Batman. Have you seen Borat yet? Who's in it? Borat. What's it called? Borat. And have you seen what The Inbetweeners film's called? Inbetweeners the Movie but it's English isn't it? So they should have called it Inbetweeners the Film."

"I don't want to pull the wool over people's eyes and think that I want to make it to America because originally I probably would have done but I realized you can make films in England, so it don't matter."

I begin to understand that the key differences between Keith and Leigh are the strength and volume of their Leeds accents, the amount of 'FOOKS' there are in an answer, and how Keith loves to express things as dialogue.

So it was Keith that told me "I said to me mates 'I've made a film' and they went 'have yer FOOK?'

"A lot of things I do is just to tell me mates in Leeds, just to wind 'em up. 'I'm doing a film with Kelly Brook' 'FOOK OFF. No you're not.' 'I am.'

"I remember when I said 'I'm gonner be on telly' and they were like 'FOOK OFF there's no FOOKIN' way you'll be on telly.' And I'm like 'I will! Why wouldn't I?' I'm living the dream really. I put ideas out there and when they say yes I go 'REALLY?!?' I'm riding that wave, man."

"I don't try too hard. I don't break it down. I'm not a comedy scientist. I don't think of me as a comedian, I'm just having a laugh," adds Leigh.

The film (not movie) is an origins story of the character Keith Lemon and was inspired bizarrely by X-Men Origins: Wolverine, although with less muscle and claws and more filth.

"Everyone says it's like filth and I say it's like warm and lovely. Me mum liked it anyway."

"People have gone 'oh it's like a proper film.' I think people think it's going to be like one of them mockumentary things or TV spin-off but it isn't. It's like a story."

The persona Keith Lemon has appeared across ITV1 and 2 over the past few years and the fact he has a film coming out proves that his brand is still very much on the rise.

"Each year for me has been like a step," Leigh explains, "and some people on Twitter say 'so have you peaked now?' and I say 'No, I've peaked when I've had enough' and I haven't had enough. I want to make a series of films where we'll get all the same cast back but just in different scenarios."

Then Keith takes the baton from Leigh "In the next one there will 100% be a scene where I kill a dragon because that's what I want." And just go 'I HATE DRAGONS.'"

But in the meantime it's all about this production that's slated for release in the UK on 24 August. "It's a small film with a big heart and a massive penis. Cos I get my cock made bigger in the film. When I get rich, I get a cock enlargement."

"I hope people like it, and if they do we'll make another one and if they don't, we won't. I'm sure some people will come up to me and say it was shit, but I'll say 'have you made a film?' Well FOOK OFF THEN.'"

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