"God forbid I lose more weight so they can't say 'roly-poly DJ' any more"
Of all the words used to describe Chris Moyles, charming isn't usually one of them. Arrogant, yes, but not charming. And certainly not sweet.
Yet we're sat in the bar of a central London Holiday Inn (his choice) and the 28-year-old DJ, famous for his bug ego and even bigger waistline, is being very charming and very sweet. It could be due to the fact that his life is pretty good at the moment, giving him every reason to be cheerful. There's his Radio 1 show with more than six million daily listeners; a new show on Channel 5 produced by Chris Evans; a thinner physique thanks to his fitness regime; and a new romance with TV researcher Sophie Waite.
Then again, it could just be that we're getting to meet the real Chris Moyles. Friends of his have previously described him to heat as being "really nice" and - wait for it - "a bit shy". So is the arrogant "I'm great, me" routine we hear every day on the radio just a big act? Or is he just being sweet so heat will write nice things about him? There's only one way to find out ...
Tell us about this TV show.
It's really hard to describe. Even my mum is saying "What is it?" and I'm like "I don't know."
Well, we know it's set in a pub...
Yes. And it's going to be me talking and, um, being funny with no celebrity guests and no bands and there's just going to be some very funny features and items that will involve me and ... [pauses] Did I say it's in a pub?
Er, yes. So why no celebs or bands?
If you set yourself up to have a guest every day, there comes a day when you have a piss-poor guest to fill that seat next to you and I don't want that to happen. But if Tom Cruise comes into town and wants to dress up as a chicken and come on the show, far be it from us to say no.
Are you scared about doing live TV?
I don't know. It's only like live radio but with cameras, isn't it? We sit in a tiny studio at Radio 1 and talk to 6.5 million people. Standing in a pub with a few lights should be fine.
So you're not at all nervous?
I will be nervous for the first few shows. I mean, I'm going to be absolutely bricking it before the first one. I'll have to apologise now - the first few minutes will probably be awful.
Your radio show finishes just before 6pm, then you're on TV at seven. How will you find the time to prepare?
Finish at quarter to six, taxi or bike it to the pub, quick run-through, change my shirt, then I'm on. We'll roughly work out what we're going to do and then I'll take it and just sail with it.
Are you ready for the inevitable comparisons to TFI Friday?
If there's ever a show that's going to be compared to TFI, it's going to be a show that has some of the same production staff, produced by the guy who used to present TFI, so it's hardly worth getting upset about. I'm prepared for all the critics to slate it.
It does sound a bit blokey though. What's in it for the ladies?
I'm on it. [Laughs] I think it's fair to say that I look a lot better than I did a year-and-a-half ago. I'm a bit of eye-candy now, a hunk of burnin' love. Actually, they've got some stylists in to make me look good. They said, "What do you normally wear?" So I said, "Jeans, shirt, that kind of stuff," and they're like, "OK, we can do that," and I'm like, "Do what? I can do that myself."
But then you'll be missing out on free clothes.
Apparently so, but I haven't seen anything yet. But yes, I'm quite happy to wear expensive hand-me-downs. I've never really had a style before, because when you're that heavy you wear stuff that covers you up - my wardrobe consisted of extra-large shirts from Gap.
Have you replaced them all now?
I've chucked some. I've still got my favourite big blue Gap shirt, which looks like a marquee on me. I could probably get two of me in it now.
How much weight have you lost then?
Three stone. It's taken a year and a half. I've done it really gradually.
No faddy celebrity diet then?
[Rolls eyes] That's the thing, I'm not on a diet. I am sick of having to tell people I'm not on a diet. I still drink. Last night I had a curry for my tea and then went to the pub and had a couple of pints. The difference is, I don't do that every night.
How much did you weigh when you started losing it?
At my worst I was four stone heavier than I am now. Four stone heavier with long hair and a big, fat, eight-chinned face. It makes me laugh when the papers use pictures of me from then - I don't look like that now. God forbid I lose more weight so the term "roly-poly DJ" can't be used any more.
Are you trying to lose more? What's your ideal weight?
I want to lose another half-stone before the TV show, which I'm halfway to doing.
Is that because TV puts 10lbs on people?
[Scoffs] I don't give a toss about that, because everyone thinks I am fatter than I am anyway. I'm not the fattest bloke I know any more, which is great. I'm not even the fattest member of my family - my cousin Gerard has taken that mantle and is proud of it.
How does the BBC feel about you doing Channel 5's new flagship show?
They were a little bit hesitant at first. I went to Andy Parfitt and said I really really wanted to do this TV show, but equally I want to stay at Radio 1, so I'll sign my two-year deal to stay, and then do both.
Is that to stay where you are, in the afternoon slot?
Are you still hankering after the breakfast show?
[Pauses] I don't know. I mean, we're not a million miles behind the breakfast show's listening figures and we seem to be slowly bridging the gap between the two. To be honest, getting up at 4.30 every morning for a little bit more money and more hassle and half a million more listeners ... Is it worth it?
You've changed your tune. You always said you could do a better job than Sara Cox.
I still do think that I could do a better job, don't get me wrong. I could absolutely kick anybody's arse on breakfast, ever. Though to be honest, if I hear any of Sara in the morning it's at nine o'clock for ten minutes. If I get up before nine o'clock I like to watch RI:SE to amuse myself.
You're not a fan then?
[Laughs] Is anybody?
You once famously described yourself as the saviour of Radio 1. Are you now the saviour of Channel 5?
Absolutely. Have you seen that channel? Although I must admit I, love watching Matthew Wright in the morning.
I think you're in a minority there.
I don't think that I am. I genuinely think it's a brilliant show. But I though Chris Evans had an idea for a morning show with Terry Wogan that would replace The Wright Stuff. I don't know.
He's got his fingers in a lot of pies then?
Listen, there's only one project Chris is going to be happy with, and that's mine. I'm saving this guys career for God's sake. [Grins slyly] When I bumped into him in LA he was nobody. After one conversation over a couple of bottles of beer, he's back in the UK.
So his comeback is all down to you?
Hmm. Can you understand why people think you're arrogant when you say things like that?
[With a coy smile.] Yeah, because they're lazy and just look at the superficial side as opposed to the inner me.
So you don't think you're arrogant?
No. And I don't think I'm that arrogant, big headed or egotistical on the radio.
Oh come on. What about when kids ring up and you slam the phone down on them?
Is that really nasty though, putting the phone down on a 12-year-old kid who wants a request when we don't do them?
It's probably a big deal for them. You're their hero and you've just hung up on them.
But would you rather have your hero put the phone down on you, or talk for a minute and be dead boring? I don't think I'm being nasty. [Pauses] Do you think I'm arrogant?
Actually, I don't. I can see that you're taking the piss most of the time.
Make sure that you print that and say what a lovely, nice man I am.
Don't get too carried away. So, what's a typical meeting between you and Chris Evans like?
In all the meetings we've had, he's been extremely generous, courteous, polite and business-like. We've also only had one afternoon in the pub.
The first time was when we met up during an Ireland game in the World Cup. We had the meeting then went to the pub to watch the second half. He had water and I had orange because we were both working.
Crikey, Marriage to Billie really has mellowed him.
He's a lot more chilled out these days. And Bill's great as well. She's great fun to be around. I knew her before Chris got his grubby ginger hands all over her. [Laughs] But once you see those two together you can absolutely understand it. They really do get on and feed off each other. It's really sweet, actually.
Bless. So moving on, are you going to do Celebrity Big Brother?
No, I can't, I'm too busy.
But you were keen?
I'd have liked to see what people thought of me, and what my reactions would be with new people. I'm quite shy with new people unless I bond with them straight away.
Have you been on your date yet with Kate Lawler?
Yes. We went to a pub. Me and Kate. [Pauses] And her friend. And Spencer. And somebody else. And their friend. And my mate turned up. And a friend of mine from Leeds. There were about ten of us. It wasn't a date date.
Is she still wearing the ring you gave her after she won?
I don't know actually. I believe she's still got it. There have been photos of her wearing it, which is very surreal.
What does your girlfriend Sophie think of your celebrity crushes?
[Pauses] She's not my girlfriend. She's my very good friend. [Pauses again] She's somebody that I'm seeing and I'm very happy about it.
So how come she's not your girlfriend?
Things are about to get really busy for me, and at the risk of sounding selfish, I can't really deal with any hassle. But Sophie's really chilled out and relaxed. She makes me very happy.
Doesn't she mind you telling everyone she's not your girlfriend?
No. She knows me very well.
You've been friend for years; how did it evolve from friendship to a relationship?
[Starts fidgeting] Oh, it's a very dull story.
Go on, humour me.
No, I'm not going to tell you how romantic and lovely I am. I've got a reputation to keep up. Find 'em, * 'em and flee, that's what I say.
I don't believe that for one minute.