BAZ ASH­MAWY

Baz Ash­mawy (41) is a TV pre­sen­ter and pro­ducer. Born in Tripoli, Libya, he lives in Rath­mines with his part­ner, Tanya, and six chil­dren Char­lotte (19), Harry (18), Jake (14), Amelia (12), Hanna (6) and Mahy (3)

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - WAKING HOURS - In con­ver­sa­tion with Ciara Dwyer

We have a very busy house. My youngest wakes about 6.30am, and she pretty much starts the day. She’ ll come into my­self and Tanya and she is very hard to ne­go­ti­ate with, so one of us will get up im­me­di­ately. The other one will fol­low 10 min­utes later. Then the house just ex­plodes. We have six kids.

Mak­ing break­fast is a cir­cus act. It’s like a ver­sion of those cock­tail bars in New York where they throw bot­tles at each other, ex­cept you’re flip­ping Weetabix over your shoul­der. You’re try­ing to feed ev­ery­body. It’s a tight reg­i­ment. We force the mid­dle two to make lunches for the lit­tle ones and the oth­ers empty the dish­washer. It’s like an army bar­racks. Ev­ery­one has their lit­tle thing to do. As soon as I get them all out the door, there is this beau­ti­ful mo­ment of calm­ness. It’s like a sado­masochis­tic thing the pain is worth it for how nice it feels once they are gone.

Tanya and I take it in turns to drop them to school. She is the ring­mas­ter of the cir­cus and I’m just her side­kick. When you have so many kids, you re­alise that they are all so dif­fer­ent. That’s the only hard thing about it. They all need in­di­vid­ual time. Some­times they’ll say to me, ‘Can we have a Baz day?’ Be­cause usu­ally they know they can milk me for shop­ping, or cin­ema trips. I take them out two at a time, rather than as a big group, so that they feel a lit­tle bit spe­cial.

Did fa­ther­hood make me grow up? I hate the term ‘grow up’ be­cause it’s as if be­ing child­ish is seen as a neg­a­tive. I’m a big fan of keep­ing them kids for as long as they can. If one of my kids says to me that they want to dye their hair blue, I’ll say, ‘Go right ahead’, be­cause as soon as you leave school, you won’t be dy­ing your hair blue. You’ll have a job. When you’re young, it’s the time to be child­ish and make mis­takes and be silly. I’m still a bit like that now, and my mis­sus is the com­plete op­po­site. She’s very se­ri­ous and strict, and there are rules, but we find a bal­ance be­tween the two of us.

Af­ter the kids have gone to school, I usu­ally hit the gym. A cou­ple of years ago, I had dou­ble lung surgery and I strug­gled af­ter­wards to get my fit­ness back. I started feel­ing a lot bet­ter when I was train­ing, and now it has be­come part of my day. Also, with young kids, it’s like look­ing af­ter a wild dog at times. They are an­i­mals, and if you can’t keep up with them . . . You want to kick a ball and do all the usual horse­play. You’d want to be Usain Bolt with my lit­tle one be­cause she’d be on the road in sec­onds. So, I need to have max­i­mum fit­ness. Also, for the shows that I do, it helps to be fit and in good shape. I’m not in good shape, but I tip away at it for 45 min­utes.

I have a small of­fice in Por­to­bello and I go in there. It’s like a lit­tle liv­ing room; a place where I can switch off and do any main­te­nance that my com­pany, Brown Bread, needs. It’s my base where I get the time to think about the stuff I want to do cre­atively. It’s hard to ex­plain, but when I was at home, my mis­sus used to say to me, ‘What are you do­ing?’ I’d be sit­ting in the chair, and I’d say, ‘I’m think­ing’. And she’d say, ‘It’s well for you that you have the time to think’. But that’s the thing. You need that. You need to sit in a cre­ative zone. My show,

came out of des­per­a­tion. Af­ter a drink-driv­ing in­ci­dent, I was seen in a less favourable light for pre­sent­ing work. Overnight, ev­ery­thing went quiet. That was the con­se­quence of do­ing some­thing stupid. Then you have to

Mammy, 50 Ways To Kill Your

pull your­self aside and have a lit­tle con­ver­sa­tion with your­self. Ev­ery­one else is telling me that I’m done; am I done? I made a con­scious de­ci­sion that if some­thing was go­ing to hap­pen, it was only go­ing to hap­pen through me.

In­stead of be­ing bit­ter, I was hun­gry to make some­thing. I started to sur­round my­self with cre­ative peo­ple. I’d sit at home watch­ing with my fam­ily. Even though I hated it, it was the one show that we watched to­gether. It was our mo­ment. I de­cided that I wanted to make an en­ter­tain­ing fam­ily show. One day, my mother, Nancy, asked me if I would do a sky­dive with her. She was 70, and I laughed at her. She was too old. Then I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to bring her around the world do­ing ex­treme things?’ I ap­proached Sky 1 and we did two se­ries. We went on to win an Emmy award. Peo­ple think it hap­pened overnight, but it took two years of sit­ting on my arse, writ­ing show ideas ev­ery sin­gle day.

It would only work if it was real. Nancy doesn’t stop be­ing my mum the whole time that’s great and that’s aw­ful. Now we have a new se­ries, which is about four ladies from dif­fer­ent back­grounds, all mam­mies and some are great-grannies. I found it very hard not to fall in love with them all a lit­tle bit, be­cause they were do­ing ex­treme things. I didn’t want them to think that they were young, but I just wanted them to for­get what it was like to be treated as if they were old. I bungee jumped and parachuted with them. They made me feel bet­ter about get­ting old.

Some days I might be in amaz­ing places for work and then, other times, my job is to pick up the kids and spend the rest of the day with them. That’s a lux­ury. I work very hard, so when I get home at 7pm, my phone goes in a bin un­til the next day. I used to lose my­self in calls and texts, but then I re­alised that some guy call­ing me is not more im­por­tant than my fam­ily. We sit around the ta­ble and feed the brats. Tanya does the baths and then I do the bed­time sto­ries. Af­ter they are asleep, I hang with the older guys. When you’ve got that many peo­ple to take care of, it’s not easy. I’m an only child, so it was al­ways about me. I’m quite a self­ish per­son, while Tanya is not. We try to find a bit of time for each other. She needs to be in bed by 10pm, but I go at mid­night. When my head hits the pil­low, I pass out.

Like a sado­masochis­tic thing — the pain is worth it. You get that nice, calm feel­ing once they are all gone to school

X Fac­tor ‘50 Ways To Kill Your Mam­mies’ will air on Sky 1 from to­mor­row, Septem­ber 26 at 9pm

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