Interviewing A-List stars is part of Capital Breakfast Show host Johnny Vaughan’s daily routine. He embraces his gusts, rarely has a fall out and loves getting to know them – he even plays golf with Will Smith and Samuel L Jackson.
But his run in with John Travolta was particularly special. Johnny’s in hysterics describing meeting the Grease star. He loves the fact John’s embracing his baldness, like Johnny is, by shaving his head lately. He sniggers: “John Travolta has come out with a shaved head recently too – I mean, not come out. He’s facing up to his baldness now. He’s gone for the shave. I actually asked him for a dance once. We shared four steps together just so I could say I’d danced with him – I was his Diana.
“I interviewed him and he looked at my shirt and told me it was a great shirt as it matched the colour of my eyes. Ha ha. He had these things I like to call ‘gay eyes’ when they widen when you talk. It’s like a waiter in LA who asks if you would like: “Pasta with Gnocchi.” The big gay eye. He had me laughing.”
But not everyone gets on with Johnny, who co-hosts his Capital show with Denise Van Outen. He says: “This interview is going to be very cathartic for me.
“Firstly I want to apologise to the Beckhams – I just hope they read this.” Fortunately they do.
Johnny managed to anger the power couple recently talking about Victoria Beckham being at the scene at the Ritz Hotel in Paris when the jury for the Diana inquest were visiting.
After suffering a car crash himself and without a witness to help his case for insurance, Johnny, 41, said Posh would be sorted for witnesses with a jury, a court judge, barristers and a ton of paparazzi if she had a crash of some sort. This was misinterpreted as the star saying he wished for Victoria to some sort of crash ala Princess Diana.
David Beckham ended up making an angry 3am phone call to Johnny. He explains: “I’ve fallen out with Posh I’m afraid. It was one of those jokes that went wrong. I feel terrible about it because her husband called up livid at about three in the morning. I hope they read Closer and hear this apology.
“The truth is we all make mistakes and we all hope for forgiveness. I said on the air that the Diana jury was in Paris with the judge etc and Posh was there doing a shoot. So I had just had a car crash the day before and didn’t have a witness and said if Posh was to have a car crash then there would be a jury, a judge, a barrister and a tonne of paparazzi capturing it so she would be fine.
“But it came out like I wanted her to be involved in a fatal accident and of course I wouldn’t want that. She’s a mother and somebody I’ve really got on with over the years. I like him, I like her and it was one that came out wrongly. Print this. I never wished any harm on them and it’s quite sad.”
He adds that he supported Beckham when he was sent off for lashing out and kicking another footballer in the game against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup. “Also, when he got sent off in that game I stood up for him throughout and got death threats from angry fans for a year! I had 24-hour protection for a while over it! So they have to forgive me,” he says.
It’s clear from talking to Johnny that Denise makes his 4.30am starts every day all the more bearable. The pair, who shot to fame on the Big Breakfast, were reunited last year as hosts of the Capital show – their first project together since their run on the Big Breakfast and the ill fated BBC show Passport to Paradise. One thing’s for sure – he thinks the pair will remain a twosome into their older years. “It’s fantastic this time around because I face Denise now in the morning,” he chuckles away. “Now I can catch her eye and make her laugh. On the telly we were next to each other. I hope we end up being OAPs and still together. That way we can follow the growth market of old people. You have Strictly Come Dancing and the X-Factor for Choirs nowadays catering for old people. Everything nowadays is geared towards the grey army. The blue rinse brigade is on the march. I hope me and Denise will continue with the growing audience.”
But one thing Johnny isn’t worried about is growing old. Talking about his receding hairline and shaved bonce he laughs: “I don’t worry about hair loss. I shaved it all off after realising I was a ‘crafty comber’ – trying to hide my receding hairline. My one big showbiz regret is that I didn’t just shave off my hair years ago so I wasn’t stuck with what happens nowadays. When people see me they yelp and go: “Where’s your hair gone?” Men need to be upfront about hair loss. As soon as it starts receding shave it off.” He glances up at my blonde locks and says: “I’m jealous of yours though – it looks so thick and long it must crackle when you brush it.”
In real life Johnny is full of energy, thinner than he looks on telly and you can see he loves laughing at his own jokes secretly. There’s a lot ticking in the comedic head he has.
I mention his biggest rival on the airwaves, Radio One’s Chris Moyles, who has slated Johnny on air – dubbing him ‘Johnny Yawn” Johnny pokes fun at his rivals’ tubby physique – saying: “Ronald McMoyles?”
He continues: “I’m sure he probably loathes me. I’ve never met him and I’m sure he is a real nice chap. You have to be very careful who you pretend to be. So my advice to him I if you pretend to be Mr Nasty then you need to be careful. I obviously never listen to his show and we tend to take holidays at the same time. He keeps avoiding me at events – I always see him hiding. He seems to vanish as soon as I appear. If it works for him to bad mouth me then fine. But a pro should never badmouth a pro.”
One person that Johnny can always rely on is his wife Antonia – who he met at the age of 19. The pair have two children Tabitha, eight and Rafferty, five. You can tell his heart melts slightly when he talks about her. He says: “Me and Antonia are solid. We are so solid there’s not a word to describe us. We are one.”
He admits though that having children puts a strain on any relationship – no matter how long standing. “When you get kids they start to become the focus of your relationship and sometimes you can get sucked into that and you forget about your own relationship,” he says. “It would be nice to have more kids. We always planned to have a break and then have a second batch. Like a litter. In fact, like the Corrs. They must have come from a litter. Three of the girls pop out and then they discover there was one more stuck. Somebody delivering them says: “There’s one more – it’s a boy.””
One other point that Johnny is keen to discuss is Amy Winehouse and her drug abuse. After being jailed in 1988 for two years after being found guilty of trying to sell £15,000 worth of cocaine to an undercover police officer, Johnny has first hand experience with the issue of substance abuse and thinks he knows how the issue of drug use in youth can be combated. “I just feel really sad for Amy,” he admits.
“I think when it comes to the drugs you look at Amy and that’s drugs that have got totally out of control. It’s not drug use. It’s complete abuse. Completely different things. When we are educating kids people go so heavy on drugs straight to junkie. I think children need to be taught about the varying levels of use to abuse. It needs to be talked about. You have to accept drugs are a big part of young people’s lives. Amy’s the end game – where it leads. You need to spot when use in drink or drugs is being used. Kid’s need to be taught you don’t end up like Amy Winehouse straight away – but down the line you do.”
Tune into Capital Breakfast with Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen, weekdays, 6-10am on Capital 95.8.