The chances are that if you’ve ever spent a lazy Sunday glued to your sofa in front of the box, then you’ve probably tuned into Channel 4’s ‘Sunday Brunch’.
The show, now in it’s sixth year, sees chef Simon Rimmer and his mate Tim Lovejoy serve up a relaxed mix of cookery, interviews and celeb guests. Basically, it’s perfect hangover TV.
Now Simon is about to get even more famous, thanks to his place on this year’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ line-up, so we sat down for a chinwag to talk sequins, hangovers and the dreaded ‘Strictly Curse’.
How is the training going?
Everyone always says it’s the most amazing thing, and that’s it’s the best private members club ever and you think ‘yeah, yeah’, but seriously, the minute you start it’s amazing. Everyone is so positive and upbeat. The professional dancers are amazing. Just everybody is up for it. It’s been an amazing week, I’ve absolutely loved it.
Were you a big fan of ‘Strictly’ before signing up for the show?
Yes, I just think it’s proper old school entertainment, I’ve always loved it.
What are you most looking forward to?
Well I don’t dance, the whole process of learning was a massive reason for doing it. Putting yourself outside your comfort zone is not a bad thing to do. So every single day you feel like you’re learning something new. You’re putting yourself into a place where you never thought you’d put yourself in.
I’m rubbish, let’s make no bones about it. I’m not a natural dancer. I’m a 54-year-old, left-footed bloke with knackered knees with a left foot that’s like a wooden block because I snapped my Achilles 11 years ago. I’m made for dancing ! (laughs)
How does it feel to be starting off at the bottom of the odds? Is it more or less pressure?
It takes the pressure off. But to be honest, none of that really bothers me. To use a cliched expression, the journey itself is the exciting bit. I’ve never danced before and even after one week’s training I understand it a little bit more. I’ve found myself watching videos in a slightly different way, and watching the way people dance. So it’s a great experience.
Do you think being a chef working in hot stressful kitchen will help you with nerves?
Yeah. I mean it’s like nothing I’ve done before. I’m using parts of my brain that I’ve never used before. I’ve lost the ability to use anything other than my dancing brain, which has never been activated before.
Are you prepared for the critiques - especially Craig’s?
I don’t mind any of that. Craig (Revel Horwood) has a reputation, but what he says is true. I think some of his critiques of Ed Balls last year and Scott Mills the year before were quite hilarious, so I’m quite sure he’ll be brushing up on his one-liners already. I’m quite looking forward to it really. I think there must be something quite satisfying about him actually being quite critical of me!
Who is your main competition?
Genuinely, I’ve been so self-focussed on learning about what’s going on that I really, don’t know. The likes of Aston Merrygold, Alexandra Burke and Mollie King have all got dancing backgrounds so they’re starting point is much higher than mine. But then you look at someone like Ore last year. Here’s a guy who has never really danced before and was absolutely outstanding, so it might well be some this years who will surprise everybody.
Are you going to fully embrace the ‘Strictly’ experience - glitter, sequins, fake tan and the rest?
I’ve said yes to everything! I’ve said I want to embrace the whole thing. The more glitter, the more sparkles, the more see-through tops and flared trousers the better!
The only thing I said no to was I don’t want to be dressed as a chef. That’s one step too far. Gregg Wallace did it, and Gary Rhodes. I think it was probably the weeks they went out, which was probably week one.
What does your wife Ali think about you taking part?
There was lots of eye rolling and shaking of her head. So I think that means she’s really, really excited about it. That’s usually what those expressions mean, isn’t it?
Everyone jokes about the so-called ‘Strictly’ curse -have you had a chat with Ali about it?
One of our friends said to her the other week, ‘are you not worried about the Strictly curse?’ And she said, ‘hold on. Let me get this straight. So you’re saying a really, really attractive, young, professional dancer is going to be attracted to my lumbering 54-year-old husband who can’t dance? No, I’m not worried.’ She said it without even a beat, not even a second, where there was that trepidation in her voice.
Have you ever hosted Sunday Brunch hungover, drunk or with no sleep?
I’ve done it without sleep, but never hungover and never drunk in ten years. Never ever ever. I love my job too much. A few months ago I did the show after two hours sleep because I was at a charity do on the Saturday night in Cumbria and so I promised to host it as it was memorial for a dear friend of mine. So I came down to London for 3am and was in the studio by 6am.
You and Tim seem to get on like a house on fire… do you ever fall out?
Never. We’ve worked together for ten years and we’ve never fallen out. We might have a little sulk with each other every now and then but he is genuinely one of my best friends in the whole world. We went on holiday together last New Year. His family and my family went to Miami. He is such a great bloke and as supportive about ‘Strictly’ as you would imagine. He’s been taking the mickey out of me every single day!
You’ve had some unforgettable guests… who was the most memorable?
There were so many, and many for different reasons. When we first did Potter With Johnny Vegas and Karl Pilkington being the Fly Whisperer, and taming an actual fly on the show was one of the most bizarre things that has ever happened.
And then there are people like Michael Ball who every time he comes on just fills the room with joy. He’s such a lovely human being.
Then you’ll get somebody whose agent will say ‘they don’t want to do this or do that’ but then when they come on they just can’t do enough. Kelly Clarkson was an example of that and she was so lovely and just wanted to as much as she possibly could. We’re very lucky that people come on and play. You know, if they don’t play then it falls apart. And Bradley Walsh was one of my favourites. He basically took over the entire show.
Have you ever had any absolute nightmares on the show?
There have been things that have gone wrong. Things that have been undercooked and overcooked. When we had Ashley Banjo on the show, it’s the only time in ten years of doing the show that I actually made something that was inedible. I was doing a spice dish and using chilli flakes and as ever we got distracted from the cooking because we were talking nonsense, and the minute I threw these chilli flakes into the pan I realised the pan was way too hot. When you overcook chilli flakes it’s like you’ve got some sort of tear gas in the room. Straight away the entire studio floor was coughing!
Simon Rimmer has partnered with Weber. For more barbecue tips and hints please visit weber.com.