Patrick Kielty: I flew 5,000 miles to LA in bid to charm Cat Deeley
One of Northern Ireland's best known comedians has told how he flew 5,000 miles across the world to woo his future wife.
Patrick Kielty (44) also revealed how he was recently given new information about the murder of his beloved father, who was shot by loyalists in 1988.
The funnyman, who is originally from Dundrum, married TV presenter Cat Deeley (38) in secret in Rome in 2012.
They struck up a friendship as co-presenters on Fame Academy in 2002, with romance only blossoming much later.
"Cat was in LA and I was in Northern Ireland, so I texted her to wish her a happy birthday," he revealed. When she said she was having a birthday lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel, I said I'd be there. She told me to go to sleep as I was drunk.
"That was 2am. I got up at 5am, went to Belfast airport for 6am, got the 7.15am flight to Heathrow, landed at 8.30am, took off again at 9.40am and arrived in LA at 1.15pm. I was at the Beverly Hills Hotel by 2.15pm. When I walked in, Cat looked at me and said: "Oh, you're good!"
Kielty, who hosts BBC1's Fame Academy and Stand Up For The Week on Channel 4, admitted that they may not have wed, had he not got on that plane.
"There had always been a spark between us, but either she was with someone or I was, and then she moved to LA, so opportunities for something to develop were limited. Unless someone was stupid enough to get on a plane, nothing would have happened."
Patrick's father Jack was shot dead by the UFF as he sat behind his desk in his building firm in 1988. The terrorists claimed that he'd been an officer in the IRA - an allegation dismissed by friends and family, as well as the RUC and Sinn Fein.
Kielty, who was in school when his father was killed, was just six days away from turning 17.
"It was the very first Red Nose Day and I'd put the posters up all around the school," he told the Daily Mail.
"When I was called to the headmaster's office, I thought I was going to get told off because I'd plastered the entire school with them.
"Then I got to his office and one of my dad's business colleagues was there. That's when I knew something was terribly wrong. I remember thinking, 'I need to get home. Where's everybody else?' At the time you don't realise you're going through shock."
Kielty, who was a pallbearer at his dad's funeral, spoke candidly about his feelings that terrible day.
"When you go through something like that, you spend your life making up for other people's discomfort because they don't know what to say. But growing up in Northern Ireland you had less of those chats because a lot of people knew what you were going through. There was never anger. It was a case of looking after mum and the family pulling together. The minute you're angry then someone else has won."
Three men were sentenced to life for the murder but were freed in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Asked how he felt about their early release, he said: "For me it was absolutely part of the process. People talk about making peace and then they draw their line in the sand and say, 'I'll make peace here' but peace is about going beyond where you want to go. The reason there haven't been many places where peace has broken out is because people cannot go beyond the place they need to."
Three years ago, while doing a show in Belfast, Patrick was approached by a woman who threw new light on his father's death.
Investigative journalist Roger Cook had exposed a local protection racket being run by James Craig, a UDA commander, in his show The Cook Report, but Craig then tried to sue the programme.
"This woman told me that her husband and my dad had been going to give evidence in the trial against James Craig, and I didn't know that. Apparently they gave evidence behind a screen but then the trial collapsed and both men were then identifiable."
Kielty added: "My dad was a brave man but it was my mum who wanted to protect us. She's the one who raised the family and kept us together."
Kielty appears at the Edinburgh Festival next week and will then take his show, Help, on a nationwide tour.