Chris Tarrant’s ex-wife isn’t in his memoir because it’s ‘about funny stuff’


Chris Tarrant has discussed his career in the new book It’s Not a Proper Job, though the memoir doesn’t even mention his ex-wife Ingrid Tarrant because, as he said, it’s “about fun stuff”.

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Chris Tarrant opens up about life after his stroke in 2019

The first line of Chris Tarrant’s book about his life reads: “This is not my autobiography.”

Tearing up the usual celebrity memoir style, readers revel in the “laughs and ridiculous situations” of its 75 years, liberally doused with anecdotes involving famous names like Terry Wogan, David Bowie, Billy Connolly and Paul McCartney are.

It also means Chris is addressing parts of his personal life, like his acrimonious split from his second wife Ingrid Tarrant, who discovered his seven-year affair with a teacher in 2006.

Ingrid – the mother of Chris’ youngest two children, Sammy Tarrant, 33, and Radio X DJ Toby Tarrant, 30 – is not even named in the book.

“Well, I wanted to write a book that was mostly funny,” he says. “She just doesn’t appear in any of the funny stuff.”

So on to funnier things: Tiswas. Whenever Chris hosts Q&A, the first question is always about the crazy show that launched his television career, the new format of children’s Saturday morning television, and thousands of pudding cakes.

Two years later, in 1976, the BBC’s Multi-Coloured Swap Shop competed with frontman Noel Edmonds.

Chris Tarrant’s ex-wife Ingrid Tarrant is not mentioned in his new memoir It’s Not a Proper Job



“At the time nothing else was hot, then there was Noel. I get along really well with Noel, but I have to say to him, ‘God, that was so boring and boring on the other side’. It was so worthy.

“Tiswas was live and very chaotic. I remember rolling in pudding with Sheena Easton, Annie Lennox and Chrissie Hynde and thinking, ‘I’m getting paid for this – what a great gig’.”

Chris thinks the censors would throw cold water at Tiswas today. “We threw water at people in a cage, smoke bombs went off, children slipped everywhere. We can’t do that anymore.

“But at the time we had a blank slate. I used to say, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, but I hate Blue Peter’. It was so cute.”

For teenager Lenny Henry, Tiswas was a career-defining moment. “Lenny had won a talent show called New Faces, but they didn’t really promote him. He just sort of disappeared.

“I wanted someone to make an impression of Muhammad Ali on Tiswas and I’m told Lenny made a good Ali.

“I visited him in his dressing room [on Great Yarmouth pier] and we just sat there and laughed. There was a point in his number where his fly popped open and I asked how he did it.”

Chris said he wanted to write a book that was “mostly funny.”



It contains anecdotes from his decades-long career



Chris continued, “He said, ‘It wasn’t supposed to be in the friggin’ storyline. I just put on the wrong pants.’

“We used it from time to time. I’ll be honest, we weren’t so sure about him. He was very young and very nervous. And then he created routines for David Bellamy and Trevor McDonald in the second series.

“And he grew and grew – he was fantastic. An incredible talent, Len. So I didn’t discover him, but I revitalized his career.”

Building on the success of Tiswas, which peaked at 4.7 million viewers, OTT was a late-night adult show produced and presented by Chris and the polar opposite of Wake TV.

“OTT was live, very experimental television. Some of it was brilliant. Some things were really terrible. The classic was the rat man. He came on the show with a box full of rats, which he stuffed into his see-through tights.

“People were screaming, standing in their seats and freaking out. The place was in turmoil. It was fantastic, a sensation. But then we had all these complaints about rat cruelty.”

Born in Reading and raised in the Midlands, Chris has barely escaped the prime-time limelight since those heady days.

But even he nearly turned down the chance to host Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, the world’s most popular quiz show, after his good pal Kenny Everett did.

Chris, pictured with partner Jane Bird, has hosted shows such as Tiswas and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire



“I think it would have been very fun with Kenny – and a very different show. I said, ‘I’m going to do a pilot, but I’m really too busy to do the actual show when it takes off.’ I could.” I turned down Millionaire, which would have been really stupid. Like the man who turned down the Beatles.

Chris openly admits that he didn’t like some of the contestants. “The task was not to show it. But there was one man, Richard Deeley from Nottingham: Dick by name, D**k by nature.

“I gave him a check for £32,000 which I think is a lot of money. He screwed it up and threw it across the studio floor and said, ‘We won’t need that’.

“I found it so offensive to the show, to me but especially to a dear old granny who would think £4,000 is a lot of money. And there was this ass throwing away a check for £32,000.

“When he got his £64,000 question wrong, the audience could be heard saying, ‘Yes! W***er!’ He had to crawl around on the floor for his check afterwards.

The most notorious contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire was Major Charles Ingram (centre)


Stellify Media/ITV)

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Of course, Chris’ most famous contestant was Major Charles Ingram, who would have snuck the jackpot in 2001 but for the keen ears of a young editor alerting bosses to the audience’s timely coughing.

As for Chris’ own fate, in 2014 he suffered a stroke on an airplane. He credits his full recovery to the quick intervention of paramedics, intensive speech therapy and a physical therapist who “beat me up.”

His 15-year-old partner, Jane Bird, keeps him healthy.

“The stroke was the scariest thing in my life,” says Chris. “I thought I was going to die on air. I was in good hands, but I was also damn lucky. And I take care of myself.

“I don’t drink whiskey at all. I just thought decent whiskey probably wasn’t a good idea. Jane has been good at sorting my diet and I don’t eat pies and chips. I’ve lost a bit of weight and I feel pretty good. Actually, I’m annoyingly happy now. “

Chris’ book It’s Not a Proper Job is available now.

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