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

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - COVER STORY -

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

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