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Me and my health: Actor Dan Gordon on his lifestyle


By Helen Carson

The 54-year-old actor and writer lives in Belfast with wife, Cathy, a teacher. They have three daughters Sarah (28), Hannah (25) and Martha (19).

Q: Do you take regular exercise - and if so what?

A: I took up cycling last year and now I will ride 70-100 miles at least once a week. A TV producer friend of mine is a keen cyclist and he bought me the bike last year and told me that I needed to get fit. My favourite route is usually from Carrickfergus across the city ending up in Killyleagh. I adore it, it's glorious to be outside and see rabbits running about in fields. I have lost weight since I started riding the bike as I would have been about 20 stone before. I prefer riding by myself rather than in a group because I am terrified of traffic so I get up about 5.30am. By the time I get into all my Lycra and get my contact lenses in and the bike ready it's time to get on the road about 6.30am and I will be back home about 8am.

Q: What is the worst illness you've had?

A: I've been very fortunate with my health, touch wood it stays that way. I get flu and things like that - man flu of course. I'm terrible at suffering ... I don't suffer in silence.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: A lot better since I started cycling. I never liked porridge before but now I take it for breakfast with yoghurt, banana and honey but I'd rather be having a fry. Lunch at times has been a sandwich from a garage which is not usually very healthy, but it depends on where I am and how I'm working, especially if I'm rehearsing. Nowadays I will try to take lunch with me - soup and fruit - but I'm dreadful in that I'd eat anything that is put down in front of me ... preferably a fried egg soda with two eggs. For dinner it's nearly always a home-cooked meal and I will make things like spaghetti bolognese, chilli or a curry.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: Chocolate, I love to have something sweet to eat after dinner. I love cherry scones and am waging a campaign to get bakers to put cherries back into scones, not the pieces of cherries which are stuck on the outside.

Q: Do you drink and/or smoke - if so, how much?

A: I don't smoke and have rarely drank alcohol over the last year because I prefer to be compos mentis. I also drive a lot. If I do, my tipple is Irish whiskey like Bushmills or Tullamore Dew.

Q: Do you take health supplements?

A: I was a PE teacher when I was younger and played a lot of sport so I have a bit of an arthritic knee so I take glucosamine, Opti Turmeric and omega 3, 6 and 9 for my joints. I started this regime a year ago and have been committed to it ever since. I have started to look after myself because my big fear is to develop diabetes.

Dan Gordon as Frank Carson in his new play

Q: How do you take time out?

A: Cycling. Because I go out early in the morning there is very little traffic about. I scare myself all the time by watching bicycle crashes on YouTube. It is great to get out on the bike but I didn't take to it straight away as you have to wear special shoes and I couldn't get my feet into the pedals and thought I was going to fall off. After a few months, though, I just love it so much. I keep my bicycle in the house because I am so afraid of someone stealing it and it not being there for me. I have a garage and it is like Fort Knox but I still keep the bike in the house.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: Pretty well but my knee gives me some trouble. My kids got me a FitBit two years ago and it's like wearing an electronic tag because it tells you when you haven't walked 10,000 steps every day. At one stage I was putting in everything that I ate and drank but once I got the bike I stopped. Now I have an app on my phone which knows where I am when I'm out cycling and can tell my wife if I have come off the bike.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: I don't feel old anymore, I feel mortal. A good friend of mine, journalist Seamus Kelters died last week aged 54 and he was such a lovely and very intelligent man. I recall Gerry Anderson saying to Sean Rafferty once when a friend our age passed away 'they're starting to take people from our pen'. That's when you feel mortal. I don't think growing old is the worry as whatever age you are feels the same unless you are infirm. But it's when you are reminded about you're own mortality.

Q: What is your go-to product or habit that keeps you feeling healthy?

A: Again, it's riding the bike because it has transformed my existence. I used to do a lot of running until my knee became arthritic. I wanted to get fit for my job too, especially for my one-man show Frank Carson - A Rebel Without A Pause. When I was performing it at the Edinburgh Fringe recently I walked to and from the theatre as I didn't have the bike. I need to stay in shape for that role on stage and have the stamina for it. I do a bit of jumping around and a bit of Irish dancing so I need to be healthy.

  • Frank Carson - A Rebel Without A Pause, written and performed by Dan Gordon is at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, from November 1-5. Tickets cost £20 from

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