Escapology for over 50s

TV duo: The Hairy Bikers, Simon King and Dave Myers, are shedding the pounds these days
TV duo: The Hairy Bikers, Simon King and Dave Myers, are shedding the pounds these days

Hairy Biker Dave Myers is a trimmer figure these days.

Thanks to a new attitude to healthy eating, the long-haired foodie has now lost three stone and seems to be enjoying a new-found energy.

He’s putting it to good use for his new ‘Larger Than Live’ tour, with Hairy Biker Two, Simon King, set to land in Preston on December 1.

Dave, speaking from a sunny Lowestoft in Suffolk, where the show is currently entertaining crowds, said: “We were worried that some people would come along expecting a cookery demonstration for two hours but it’s not that.

“We have got a proper show and it’s a proper night out.

“It’s a bit of everything, and there’s some food as well.

“The theatre thing is so much more fun and intimate and it’s like being part of a club. I love it.

“There’s a bit of singing and dancing and a bit of escapology.”

Escapology? Yes, that’s right.

Dave, originally from Barrow-in-Furness, explained: “Now I’ve lost the weight I might be too fat to kidnap, but I’m not too fat to escape.

“I get out of a padlock, five pairs of handcuffs and 60ft of chain every night.

“That’s just before we start the set on cookery.

“We just thought it would be laugh really. I’ve only been stuck once, which was really embarrassing.

“It was one of the nights on the tour, but it won’t happen again.”

He might joke about his size and subsequent weight loss, but with his humour comes a serious health message.

But what was the reason behind it?

“We were massively fat,” Dave candidly admits. “This is proper Northern, this is. We were both massively fat and ended up on the same tablets.

“When I’m running around Turin cooking chocolate cake and I run out of blood pressure tablets, and Si does too, you have to laugh.

“Our sugar levels were getting high like most middle aged men overweight.

“Si hit 19 stone and I hit 18 stone so it was time to do something about it really.

“We did, and the Hairy Dieters idea came up.

“We both realised we had to do something and there’s no better motivation than national humiliation when you have a public weigh-in to shed the timber.

“The first weigh in was really awful. You stand at 18 stone in your budgie smugglers and it’s all a bit medical. It’s a bit odd. It was like ‘oh crikey’. And then a machine tells you you’re 39 per cent fat.

“Si was 43 per cent. In three and a half months I changed that round to 23 per cent.

“So it was just getting normal tubby really.

“When you’re younger you tend to jump off things and bounce. That’s actually come back now. Moving around on stage you do feel so much more lighter and have more energy.

“Plus medically last week I had my six monthly blood test and without medication, my cholesterol, blood sugars and pressure were down better than they were with medication.

“So the message is quite clear really. For us, it’s worked and it’s encouraged us to keep it off. It took 30 years for my lard to pile on and it was a three month sabbatical really to get back in order.

“The truth of doing it was a lot easier than the dieting industry makes out. If you eat less, you consume less calories and the weight drops off.

“Actually within two weeks my clothes were feeling an awful lot better and your belly goes down quite radically.”

But the change in lifestyle doesn’t mean the foodie has to give up on all his guilty pleasures.

He said: “We are still big lads but we are in the right zone that we’re quite comfortable with.

“It was 250 nights we were away from home last year and I must have had 250 full Englishes in the morning.

“We’ve got the grips a bit really and it’s every now and again rather than every night. I’m eating more carefully.”

But with every diet comes a time when you have to fall off the wagon. And the bikers did that at Nigel Howarth’s Northcote Manor.

He said: “We did go stone cold sober for a month to kick the diet off and it was in Lancashire that we fell off.

“We were filming with Nigel Howarth over at Northcote Manor. We said ‘look Nig I know it’s daft but we’re on a diet’. He said ‘alright lads, I’ll do you something nice’. It was superb. Kingy had a glass of red and I had white and we said you might as well leave the bottle.

“I have never been so drunk in my life.

“We ended up on the whiskys.”

And Dave knows the area well, going to gigs at a teenager at Preston Guild Hall.

He said: “I grew up in Barrow so I used to go to the Guild Hall to watch bands like Beebop Delux.

“I also did a foundation course in art at Preston Polytecnnik, but the art school was based in Lancaster.

“The only other links I have to Preston are that my mother used to say every time I wanted something - ‘yes son, next Preston Guild.’

It was in his teenage years that Dave found his love of food that has taken him all over the world.

He said: “I must have been about seven and mum couldn’t get out of work.

“My dad was on shifts from 2pm to 10pm and the old cooker we had was a gas cooker, and there was a cook book in the house with a recipe for a cheese and potato pie. I cooked it for my dad for his tea so he could have something hot when he got in.

“Myself and my dad, from when I was bout 10 to 14, we must have lived on instant potato and peas.

“I started doing the shopping and then I started cooking. When I went to art school I cooked more than I painted and it’s something I’ve loved ever since.”

The passion was turned into a career when he met fellow foodie Simon King.

He said: “We both had a vague idea about telly and we had the ideas about the Hairy Bikers. No one said it was a terrible idea and laughed us out the building.

“At the back end of 2004 we went to Portugal and filmed a programme.

“We got great viewing figures. We started with one million and by the end it was 2.7m. We still had the day jobs by then, and we flew. We got the atlases out and decided where we wanted to go.

“It was a wonderful feeling chucking in the day jobs and going off.”

And the best thing about his fame?

“The best thing has been meeting my wife, which we did when we did Hairy Bikers go to Transylvania.

“She was managing one of the local hotels and everyone came back with a bottle of something, and I came back with a family. That was pretty good.

“This year we got nominated for a BAFTA for Meals on Wheels, we won the TV Choice Award and the Hairy Dieters has just been nominated for a National Book Award. We knocked 50 Shades of Grey off the charts.”

Will all these celebrations mean he slacks on his diet over Christmas?

“I’ll keep an eye on the diet over Christmas”, he said. “If I can maintain the way I am, then I’m fine.

“If I start to put a couple of pounds on then it’s easy to lose. I will keep an eye on it for health more than anything.

“It feels so much better on my knees and stuff.”

But with the weight loss come additional problems.

Dave said: “I lost my wedding ring the other day on stage in Hull which is unfortunate but your fingers get thin and my wedding ring just flew off.

“I was trying to get out of my bloody chain.

“Nobody found it.

“It will be down as cash for gold somewhere in Hull at the minute. It’s the future- escapology for the over 50s.”