|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2013)|
|Birth name||Leigh Szaak Francis|
30 April 1973 |
Beeston, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
|Spouse||Jill Carter (2002—present)|
|Notable works and roles||Bo' Selecta! (2002–2006)
Keith Lemon's Very Brilliant World Tour (2008)
Celebrity Juice (2008—)
Sing If You Can (2011)
Keith Lemon's LemonAid (2012)
Lemon La Vida Loca (2012—)
Through the Keyhole (2013—)
Leigh Szaak Francis (born 30 April 1973) is an English stand-up comedian, actor, director, producer, writer, voice artist, and comedian, best known for creating Channel 4's Bo' Selecta! and portraying Keith Lemon in several ITV shows including Celebrity Juice, Keith Lemon's LemonAid and Keith Lemon's Through the Keyhole
Francis was born Leigh Szaak Francis in Beeston, Leeds, West Yorkshire on 30 April 1973 and brought up on a council estate in Old Farnley, Leeds. His grandparents were from the Burgenland area of Austria, hence his middle name, in honour of them. His father died aged 47 of cancer.
He attended Farnley Park High School (now The Farnley Academy). He later studied at the Leeds College of Art and received a qualification in graphic design. Before making his major television breakthrough, he was discovered and encouraged by television presenter Davina McCall, performing in-role stand up comedy in a Southern comedy club.
McCall landed Francis his first television role on Dom and Kirk's Nite O Plenty, where he portrayed Bobby Stark, a man who gives tips on how to win over the ladies. The series aired on Paramount Television from January to July 1996. Francis' second television role was as Barry Gibson, a music paparazzo, featured on the early series of Channel 4's Popworld. Francis also starred as various characters, including Gibson, Keith Lemon and Avid Merrion in the series Whatever I Want, which aired late night on ITV in 2000.
His major television breakthrough occurred when Channel 4 offered him a £250,000 deal to produce a series based around his portrayal of television characters, such as his previous roles as Bobby Stark and Barry Gibson, and in 2002, Bo' Selecta! was born. The series featured Francis portraying a series of celebrities by wearing face masks to impersonate them, as well as portraying the main, non-celebrity character, Avid Merrion. The programme lasted for 5 series, airing between 2002 and 2006, however, the last two series were only loosely based on the original three. Season 4 was subtitled A Bear's Tail, and was based around another of his characters, The Bear. Season 5 returned to Avid Merrion and was called Bo! in the USA.
Following the axing of Bo' Selecta!, Francis took one of the series characters, Keith Lemon, and created a brand new show, Keith Lemon's Very Brilliant World Tour, which aired on ITV2 in April 2008. The show was a success, and subsequently, Francis created another new show featuring Lemon, Celebrity Juice, which has aired nine series to date. Lemon also co-hosted Sing If You Can with Stacey Solomon, and since 7 April 2012 he has hosted his new show Keith Lemon's LemonAid on ITV. In November 2011, it was revealed that Lemon would make his feature film debut in Keith Lemon: The Film, with production starting later that month.
On 30 October 2002, at Allerton Castle, North Yorkshire, he married Jill Carter, a beauty therapist. Their daughter, Matilda, was born in February 2009. Francis currently lives in North London with his wife and daughter.
Francis is known to conduct almost every interview in one of his celebrity guises, being interviewed as Avid Merrion during Bo' Selecta's run between 2002 and 2006, and as Keith Lemon ever since. In an interview given in an episode of Comedy Map of Britain, Francis, for the first time out-of-character, claimed that Avid Merrion's accent and dialects were inspired by his former teacher at the Leeds College of Art, Laimonis Mierins (12 March 1929 [Slampe Parish of the Tukums District of Latvia] - 21 December 2011 [Shipley, UK]). He also pointed out that Merrion is a misspelling of Mierins and has nothing to do with the Merrion Centre in Leeds, which many people assume. Francis conducted further interviews as himself for The Frank Skinner Show, Loose Women, Big Brother's Little Brother and Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.
Francis stars in Lemon La Vida Loca, where he portrays Keith Lemon again.
- The Buzz (1998)
- Bo' Selecta! (2000–06)
- Frank Skinner (2004)
- Loose Women (2009)
As 'Keith Lemon'
- Whatever I Want (2000)
- Celebrity Juice (2008–present)
- Through the Keyhole (2013—)
- England and Wales Birth Index 1916-2005 volume 2c page 913
- Leigh Francis biography.
- We grin and he bears it. Telegraph.co.uk. (12 July 2005). Retrieved on 25 May 2012.
- "Keith Lemon coming to the big screen for Keith Lemon: The Film". Flickering Myth. 9 November 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- Marriages England and Wales 1984–2005. Findmypast.co.uk. Retrieved on 25 May 2012.
- Leigh Francis: 'I'm just not very good at being me'. Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk (26 April 2012). Retrieved 25 May 2012.