Hairy Biker Dave Myers on his love of Lancashire food
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 February 2019
The one half of the Hairy Bikers talks to Martin Pilkington about their national stage tour, cheese souffle and his dad’s false teeth
Hairy Biker Dave Myers is preparing for the duo’s upcoming national tour with his usual good humour, something that may be tested during the 37 shows that start in Hull on February 15th and end in Dunfermline on April 8th, with not too many nights off to relax.
Experience built up over 20 years means they’ve developed well-tested coping strategies. ‘What we do is get up for last breakfast wherever we are, get to the next venue, then I do the ironing, Kingy (Si King, the other Hairy Biker) makes the tea, we do our sound check, chill out, go on stage, do our act, then get to the pub,’ he says. ‘Not a bad lifestyle really.’
He describes the act for this tour as being like having the audience round to their house for a chat and – for a lucky few – to eat with the pair. ‘We’ve a little dining room set up in a corner of the stage, so a couple of people can come up and have beer and hors d’oeuvres, and in the second half some different people will have puds on stage with us – a little bit galloping gourmet.’
Dave is looking forward to the live interaction. ‘Telly is strange because you never really see your audience. It’s only doing this sort of touring that you get to meet people who’ve maybe grown up with the programme.
It’s a chance for the audience to get to know us and for us to get to know the audience. And it’s good fun.
‘We’ve embraced the digital age so people can tweet or email us questions, we’ve also got access to all the photos and files and everything that can be shown on the big screen, so no two nights will be the same. It’s like coming round to our house for some supper, and the whole audience will get involved with the craic.’
The show’s menus are still being decided, though he hopes to include some great Northern elements. ‘Goosnargh duck would be good, and maybe some black pudding… We’re the fount of plenty in Lancashire and Cumbria,’ says Barrow-born Dave. ‘Ormskirk new potatoes are a big treat, I’ve loved them since I was little; Lancashire cheese is lovely, we do a delicious double-baked Lancashire cheese souffle, the crumbliness really works in that, and Cumberland sausage for me is the best, the pepperiness is brilliant. And Lancashire hotpot – we do a belter in the book British Classics with kidneys and black pudding enriching it, a beautiful recipe and good to cook – hotpot’s a sensation, but we couldn’t do that on stage as things have to be ready within 15 minutes.’
Dave has great affection for the North and its food for two further reasons, the first being his upbringing in Barrow where he recalls with evident pleasure the scones, baps and Victoria sponge his mother baked every Monday; and with rather less delight his father’s penchant for tripe. ‘He used to get honeycomb tripe, put it in the fridge for an hour or two and eat it raw with Sarson’s malt vinegar. I can still hear it squeaking on his false teeth.’
The second reason is the debt the Hairy Bikers owe to the region. ‘The programme that made us was one we filmed for the BBC after we’d done three series abroad. It was called The Hairy Bikers Come Home: a Winter Special. We started in Bury market, did an arc from Bury to Barrow-in-Furness up through Cumbria, and over into Newcastle.
‘Our ratings doubled with that one show. In Bury market, which is wonderful for food, we cooked a fantastic little salad with pigeon breast and black pudding, and made a dressing with Roses Lime Marmalade, balsamic vinegar and orange juice, and cooked it in the middle of the market.’
They have three tour dates in the region, all holding memories or links for Dave. ‘We’re in Salford at the Lowry, and my daughter is working as a waitress nearby; then, the Liverpool Empire– we’ve filmed many times in Liverpool, I love Chinatown there; and Blackpool Opera House. Blackpool was where we spent our holidays when I was growing up, I can’t believe I’m going back to be on stage there.’
Dave loves his food, but life on the road and the strange hours it entails has a culinary downside for him. ‘It’s funny that if we’re doing a series or a show and preparing all this magnificent food we very rarely get to eat it – we usually end up going back late to a hotel and having to resort to the club sandwich. Or nothing at all. It’s a very odd world,’ he concludes. u
The Hairy Bikers are appearing on stage on February 23 at the Liverpool Empire; March 2 at Blackpool Opera House and March 10 at The Lowry, Salford.