Life

Paddy Jenkins' panto season is fuelled by ready meals, pizzas, garlic bread and coke

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Belfast comedian and actor, Paddy Jenkins

Paddy Jenkins – I was Northern Ireland judo champion a few times and represented Northern Ireland, so all my early sporting memories are good ones

1. Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

I get up quite early, about seven o'clock, and have my wee Vitamin C drink, followed by a cup of coffee. I'm not one for 'proper' breakfasts this early in the day, so I'll usually just have the coffee which is all I need to fully waken me up. I will then drive my wife, Geraldine, to her work at the Royal Victoria Hospital and then come back and help get my 14 year-old son ready for school.

2. What might you eat in a typical working day for...

Breakfast? After the coffee has wakened me up, I might have a banana about 10 o'clock, if I'm rehearsing. I really can't even contemplate eating anything more than that until it's at least 10.30am. On rare occasions, I might have a McDonalds brekkie which, at the right time, really hits the spot.

Lunch? Lunch is just a sandwich – I'm not fussy about the filling – and is usually eaten when I'm learning lines.

Evening meal? There are four of us in the house now that two have flown the nest and, although I have a son who is a chef, he works really weird, long hours, so there are normally just three of us around the dinner table. Our main meal of the day might be a chicken dinner of some type, or sometimes I'll make a big pot of spaghetti Bolognese or chilli which always works for us.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

I had never thought nutrition was important until I spent some time staying in various hotels when on tour. After initially being really excited at the thought of a cooked breakfast every morning, I noticed that after, a couple of days, the appeal wore off. On the first morning, it was brilliant, the next it was OK and, on the third day, I was ordering plain toast and making my way to the tables with the pineapples and apples. Maybe my body was telling me that, yes, nutrition is important, and you can't function well on regular fry-ups.

4. Best meal ever?

Oh, I've had far too many great meals to pick one out – we are a big, extended family and spend weekends going round each other's houses, trying to out-do each other, so it wouldn't be wise to say which was the best. When it comes to eating out, though, I have never tasted such sensational food as that served up at Ox restaurant in Belfast. I especially love the taster menu and the way they serve a different wine with every course – all seven of them.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

A guilty pleasure is dashing across the road to M&S during panto season and bringing back ready meals for myself and John [Linehan], aka May McFettridge. Sometimes, I'll go to Bella in Great Victoria Street instead and we'll gorge on a huge pizza with garlic bread and coke.

6. Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

I've never been on a diet as I've never been overweight. I did get a small 'tummy' for the first time when I stopped smoking, but it didn't make me go on a diet, though.

7. Do you take health supplements?

Just my two Vitamin C tablets each morning.

8. How do you relax?

I put my feet up with a a good box set – something like House of Cards or Game of Thrones. It's a great way to unwind, as I don't play golf or anything like that. I'll go out with the boys now and then for a pint, or I'll watch my son play football. I relax quite easily doing simple things.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

I'll have a tipple, please – red wine while watching my box sets.

10. Stairs of lift?

If it's the Opera House in Belfast, I'll say the stairs, but for the Empire State Building, New York, I'll take the lift, please. I visited the Manhattan skyscraper when filming in New York for a re-run of the 'Big Shopping Centre in Ballymena' adverts and was blown away by it.

11. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

No, but during panto season, I'll walk the four miles from my home at Finaghy to the Grand Opera House in Great Victoria Street. I don't really like serious exercise – my wife bought me a bike for Christmas and I haven't sat on it yet. I don't like getting out of breath.

12. Best tip for everyday fitness?

Eat less and be more active – you don't have to walk up a mountain.

13. On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?

I'm somewhere in the middle, about a four or five, maybe. I have no desire to put my trainers on and aim for a 10.

14. Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

Yes, I wouldn't have a problem with that – try anything once is my philosophy.

15. Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

I loved sports and judo was my thing. I was Northern Ireland champion a few times and represented Northern Ireland, so all my early sporting memories are good ones. We trained hard and had to run up Black Mountain every Sunday morning – it helped me avoid the horrific hangovers my friends suffered from at weekends

16. Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

I stopped smoking eight years ago and haven't looked back. When I was 45, I really wanted to quit the habit, but was a bit apprehensive about my chances of success. My great friend, John Linehan, who had successfully given up smoking himself, told me to stop faffing about and "just grow another set". I did and it worked.

17. Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

Just grow another set and stop smoking.

18. Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?

My wife; she is a machine. She is up and in the gym for 5.45am and trains three times a week. She works full-time and looks after the house – although, I do my bit too.

19. What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?

I need to be asleep by 11.30pm – 12 o'clock at weekends.

20. Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

Yes, I look on the funny side – my life is an open book although it's not written very well and I die in the end...

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