A relationship needs more good than laughter but it’s a start
She’s written gags for Podge & Rodge and Wagon’s Den – oh, and she’s married to Johnny Vegas. But, as funny girl Maia Dunphy reveals to Nikki Walsh, she shares a dark secret with many Irish women
hhome was her only second time on a plane aand she was so nervous, she left the rolleduup picture on her seat. That’s our family’s “we could have been millionaires” story!’ MMaia chose Seville for her wedding in 2011. ‘Spain is such a diverse place and people tend tto gravitate back to the parts they know, but eeveryone should do a tapas crawl in Seville bbefore they die,’ she says.
She wasn’t always set on a career in TV. MMaia studied English and French at Trinity CCollege before she went travelling, spending a year working with orangutans in Borneo. ‘People are always surprised at this,’ she tells mme, laughing. On her return to Ireland, she ffound her way into writing and producing, wworking full time with Double Z Enterprises, tthe boys behind Zig and Zag and Podge and RRodge. ‘I adore the lads and most of the time wwe have an enormous amount of ffun.’ More recently, she ghostwwrote the bestselling Tayto ‘autobiography’, The Man IInside The Jacket. So, hhow did she go from writing to presenting? ‘I had been asked to screen-test for things in the past but had no interest in presenting for the sake of it,’ she says. ‘ Waka Productions pitched a documentary fronted by me last year on the decision to start a family, which I had written about in the past, so I jumped at the chance. These sort of popdoc programmes are so interesting to do as they have to come from a personal perspective, so you put a huge amount of yourself into them. Some people will identify with them, others won’t, but that’s what it’s all about!’
It was through her work that she met her husband, the comedian Johnny Vegas. ‘He was coming over to do The Podge & Rodge Show and I had just started a column for State Magazine. I was trying to score brownie points with my new editor so said I could do a piece with Johnny and arranged to meet him the day before the show. I turned up in the Dylan Hotel, where he was staying, and thought he hadn’t turned up. Actually, he was sitting across from me but had lost so much weight since the last time I had met him that he was unrecognisable. We ended up on the town until 6am and the interview never got done; I kind of half made it up a week later!
‘Our first weekend away was a couple of months later. We went to Galway and sat up all night laughing until my eyes were red. A relationship needs more than laughter, but by God it is a good starting point!’
The couple were married in March 2011, in a 16th-century hacienda just outside Seville. Now Maia divides her time between the UK and Dublin. ‘It’s tough at the moment, as 18 months after getting married we are still living apart, but we do our best to see each other as much as possible and, if not, we speak about 10 times a day. He’s incredibly suppor tive of everything I do and there’s no one in the world I’d rather spend time with than him.’ When Maia is not working, she likes to catch up with family and friends over good food and wine. ‘I love food and I love cooking — even if it’s just for me, which it often is. Like most women, I watched my weight like a hawk in my teens, but it’s only when you stop thinking about it that you learn to embrace food and the shape you are supposed to be. My mum is an amazing cook but it’s taking me a while to catch up to her level. I spend a lot of time with my parents — I adore their company and have long, lazy