'There's always a door that's locked'
Keith Lemon tells Jeananne Craig about series two of Through The Keyhole
If you've got a dusty room or broom cupboard packed full of items you don't use but can't bear to throw out, it turns out you're not alone. Celebrities are just the same, as Keith Lemon discovered when he signed up to host ITV's Through The Keyhole reboot.
In each episode, the madcap, moustachioed presenter snoops around three mystery homes belonging to the rich and famous, leaving it up to an all-star panel to guess who it belongs to — but not everyone's keen to bare all.
“There's always a door that's locked. Normally it's not because it's a sex den — it's usually a junk room,” Lemon (41) reveals, ahead of the second series.
“And with a couple of the houses, the homeowners were still there. That was weird. Our booker would say, ‘Let's go for a pub lunch', and keep them there all day while we were filming in the house, because otherwise it's too difficult.”
The original Through The Keyhole launched in 1987, fronted by the late Sir David Frost and with Loyd Grossman (and his trademark phrase, ‘Who lives in a house like this?') doing the prying.
The show was cancelled in 2008 before Lemon — the character brought to life by Leeds-born comedian Leigh Francis — took the helm for the revamped version last year.
The strawberry blonde star still can't get over his luck at fronting one of his favourite childhood shows.
“I got a video camera when I was a kid and the first thing I did was spoof Through The Keyhole. I said to my mates, ‘Isn't it weird that now I actually do it?”'
Grossman has also given the show his seal of approval, and attended filming of the pilot episode.
“I said a few choice words in the first half of the recording — just specifically for the audience, because some of them expect a bit of naughty,” says Lemon.
“I was a little bit concerned but I thought, ‘You know what, I've got to do Through The Keyhole how I would do it'. I came off stage, and he [Grossman] said he was crying with laughter.”
Celebrities who opened their doors to the cameras in series one included The Great British Bake Off's Mary Berry, The X Factor judge Louis Walsh and Splash actress Daryl Hannah.
As for series two, Lemon says: “I'm blowing my own trumpet, but I think this series is better than the last. We went to Los Angeles to do a few houses — they were really Hollywood-style houses,” he adds. “We've got a varied mix and a fantastic panel as well — Alan Carr, Jonathan Ross, Jimmy Carr, Fearne Cotton, all sorts of people.”
Does he have a dream celeb home he'd like to rummage through?
“Simon Cowell's would be amazing. We come on straight after The X Factor, so it would be great to do an X Factor Through The Keyhole special.”
While Lemon has met Cowell “loads of times”, he isn't holding out much hope of the music mogul handing over the keys to his pad. “Every time I meet him he goes, ‘Nice to meet you', or he'll pass me and go, ‘Hello, trouble'.”
Fake tan-loving Lemon came to prominence on the Channel 4 series Bo' Selecta!, which featured his neck brace-wearing, celebrity obsessed character Avid Merrion.
After the show finished, he landed ITV2 spin-off series Keith Lemon's Very Brilliant World Tour, followed by Celebrity Juice in 2008.
The panel show's success led to a cameo-filled feature-length movie, Keith Lemon: The Film. Despite the film being critically panned, the star says he is currently working on a second movie.
Like the participants on Through The Keyhole, Lemon allowed cameras into his own home, for the 2012 ‘fly-on-the-wall' reality show, Lemon La Vida Loca. “I've got no secrets,” says the presenter, who describes his home as “minimalist, clinical, stylish and swish; a little bit like a hairdresser's house”.
Fame has also brought Lemon his fair share of famous friends, invites to showbiz parties and Twitter followers (2.58 million at the last count).
“I get wedding invites every single day on Twitter. It goes from, ‘I wish you were my dad', ‘Will you come to my wedding?', ‘My mum fancies you', to, ‘When did you wake up and realise you were a p****?',” he says.
With the second film and a sketch show in the pipeline, plus two new books out — one for grown-ups, Little Keith Lemon: Memoirs Of Me Childhood, and one for children, The Beaver And The Elephant — Lemon is a busy man.
So what would he do if Hollywood came knocking?
“If I got offered a job in America, I'd do it. But I've got no dying need to go there because everything's going well here,” he says.
“I keep it real. Once you evaporate up yourself, that's when you lose it.”
- Through The Keyhole, ITV, Saturday, 9.15pm