National Treasures Si King and Dave Myers, aka The Hairy Bikers bring their nationwide tour for 2019 to Lighthouse on 21 February. With their irresistible enthusiasm, An Evening With The Hairy Bikers will be an epic night of cooking and conversation. Si and Dave fill us in on life on the road and why they're encouraging you to use your phone during their show ...
What do you have planned for your 2019 live tour?
Dave Myers: "We’ve done two nation-wide tours before with some degree of success. The last one I think must have been around 2014. It’s about time we did another really. We did the autobiography, which did really well. The Hairy Bikers started in 2004 so we’ve got quite a lot of water under the bridge now. We do a radio show on Planet Rock, which is doing really well. We love the idea of doing ‘An evening with’. The other two tours were a bit vaudeville and daft.”
Si King: "They were our nod to vaudeville. There was cross-dressing, escapology. We’re not doing that this time.”
Dave: “We had an idea to do ‘An evening with’ but have it really interactive with the audience.”
Si: “We’re going to use technology so it’s a symbiotic relationship between Dave and I on stage and the audience.”
Dave: “You get fed up of people having their phones out in the theatre. This time we’ll encourage them. What we’re hoping will happen is - we’re still figuring out how - we’ve got a stage man regulating stuff on stage, and there’ll be a screen. We have some clips to show if they’re relevant. He’ll be able to take any kind of Facebook or Twitter messages coming in and put them on the screen so we’ll be interactive with the audience. No night can be the same. Of course it wouldn’t be us if we didn’t do some cooking so one thing we did for the first two tours is we picked some people, maybe this time we’ll do it almost as a raffle. Pick people from the audience, take them up and we’ll feed them. What we’ve always done in the programmes is do a lot of recipes, so the programme is good value as it’s a recipe book as well. They can pick what they want us to cook. Maybe we’ll have a drop box at the interval and people can leave stuff. There’ll be two people we’ll pick and cook and feed them for the second half. Last time it was very successful. We had a little restaurant but this time it’s like coming round to our house. There’s a kitchen table in the corner. There’ll be a few daft songs. It’s round to our house for a really cosy night but no evening is the same.”
Is that scary or exciting?
Si: “It’s really exciting. It’s lovely because the whole evening is not only motivated by Dave and I but motivated by the audience and the fans that come to see us. What Dave and I love most of all is that interaction, breaking that boundary between the stage and the audience. We do that really quite successfully when we’re on stage at the NEC for instance doing cookery demos.”
Dave: “When we’re at the NEC we’ll have a theatre of 3,000 people and we do four sessions a day. So, yes, you’ve got to get the food over with but then we go: ‘Has anybody got any questions?’ It pops around from the theatre and before you know it, everybody is included. We tend to get dragged off stage because we’ve over-ran our time. Hopefully we can generate that kind of energy and sense of belonging in the theatre. It’s like the radio as well. We seem to banter for hours and it seems to do alright.”
Si: “It’s very special that. What we’ve found with the fan base that we have is they know us really well. What you see on the telly is fundamentally what you get at home. There’s no difference. That’s not always the case but it’s important to Dave and I all that and always has been since the very beginning. The tour was a great opportunity to get out and meet as many of our fans and people who have supported us throughout our careers. That’s really what the night is about.”
Dave: “Our book signings take hours because people seem to want to talk to us about food. The BBC has allowed us to grow. 2004 was the first Bikers and we’ve done everything from campaigns for Meals on Wheels and the dieters always comes up. We can be honest about that. We’re still big lads but we’re not morbidly obese anymore.”
Si: “This woman said to me yesterday - one of my neighbours - as I’m carrying a box in: ‘Ooh, you’ve put some on’. I go: ‘I’ve put a bit back on but I’m nowhere near what I was’. She went: ‘But you’ve put a bit on. How long have you lived up the road?’. I said: ‘About four months. What a great way to start a relationship with your neighbours’. It’s hilarious.”
Dave: “I’m on my own this week at home. We did the Boat Show then went down to Sainsbury's to do my shopping. I normally do the cooking for the family but thought: ‘I’m not going to be cooking’. Sat down Saturday night - Strictly night - got my pizza, six pack of beer and I’m there at the tills and got: ‘Not cooking then’.”
Si: “I was in the world food isle, which in St Albans is very small. I’m rummaging through and saw these two people looking into me shopping trolley. I said: ‘Can I help you?’. They said: ‘Oh, we just want to see what you’re buying’.”
Dave: “In the theatre if we can have that level of intimacy as with people at home…. We’re playing the London Palladium, which is amazing. We could be the first people to do a fry up on the London Palladium stage. The Hairy Bikers journey, to use that much over-used phrase, has been quite remarkable. The last time we were at the Boat Show was the day before our first programme ever was aired in 2005. We said: ‘We’ll be back and buy one of these’. The people said: ‘Have you got enough money saved up yet?’.”
Si: “We’re still skint and can’t afford it.”
Did you ever expect the Hairy Bikers to go on so long?
Si: “To be perfectly honest we’ve never thought about it. We just keep doing what we do. I’m doing it with my best mate.”
Dave: "When the pair of us are away together and they put us behind a table and we’re cooking, it’s not like work. Saturday Kitchen - we’re hosting it this Saturday - that’s not like work. I’m nervous but at the end of the day I look at him in the dressing room and think: ‘This is great’. It’s a buzz. Business side is like anything. It’s a pain the cojones. Tour side is not work. Every night is a buzz. Every night is a night out. We haven’t done too much. I think if you do it every year it saturates it and spoils it. You also have to wait to have an idea to do something that you want.”
Si: “It’s really quite special going on tour and we look forward to it very much.”
Dave: “You get a lie-in every morning as well. It’s brilliant.”
Si: “You’re not available to do anything else: ‘Oh, I’m on tour’.”