Comic on a mission to fight flab on Celebrity Operation Transformation

Karl Spain is on a mission
Karl Spain is on a mission

Karl Spain found the love of his life Rachel O’Keeffe through a reality TV show.

Now the Limerick funnyman is this week set for a return to TV in a bid to shape up and shed some of his 19st 4.5lbs bulk.

Tonight, Karl will join radio presenter Brenda Donohue (13st 3.5lbs), comic Katherine Lynch (13st 5lbs), TV presenter Elaine Crowley (15st 11lbs) and solicitor Gerald Keane (19st 7lbs) in a new series of RTE’s Celebrity Transformation Operation.

As Karl says himself, getting fit and losing weight is no laughing matter – but it doesn’t stop the 44-year-old cracking the jokes. 

“I’m looking forward to wearing Al Porter’s suits,” he says, in reference to the skinny young Dublin comic with the trademark dapper outfits.

The conversation goes back to his last successful reality TV series, Karl Spain Wants a Woman, which followed his quest to find a girlfriend.

“TV sorted out my love life and now it’s going to sort out my health,” he smiles. 

“Eleven years down the line Rachel and myself are still going strong.

“She is doing the Operation Transformation plan with me as well. I’m cooking all this healthy food now and she’s getting the benefits. When she comes home in the evening the dinner is on the table, so she’s delighted.”

Karl has been warned several times by doctors about the risks to his health due to his weight and a lack of exercise.

“When I was 35 my doctor told me that if I didn’t look after myself I’d have diabetes by the time I was 40,” he tells me.

“At the time I didn’t know about diabetes. I went home and looked it up and there was an article that said they expected to have a cure for diabetes in the next three to five years.

“I thought, ‘right, the race is on, they’ll have a cure for it before I get it’. A year later I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I got really healthy for a while before gradually slipping back into my old ways.”

Karl reveals that he never had a problem growing up. 

“In the 1980s we were a malnourished nation and I was almost underweight,” he laughs. 

“I played lots of sport, football and tennis, and I walked everywhere, but as I got older the weight crept up on me.

“I was thinking about how I was going to sort myself out when I got the call about Operation Transformation. I had never watched the show, apart from little bits, but it’s a great opportunity to have experts working with you.

“I will be taking it seriously because it’s a serious business and you have people following you. I know a lot of the viewers will be people like me, with busy lives, many working nights or in unusual jobs and trying to stay healthy with those kinds of schedules.

“I think people will be able to relate to the difficulties that go with a life like mine. I’ve already started on the plan, so I’m feeling hugely optimistic about it.”

He jokes that it was his New Year’s resolution to lose weight and to get healthier… in 1994! 

“This is me finally catching up with myself. Thirteen years ago I was going to the gym five times a week. I was three or four stone lighter than I am now and I was loving it. 

“Then I took a break for a couple of weeks and it ended up being a couple of years.

“I’ve kept all my clothes from when I was skinny and I’ve a pair of white jeans I’m determined to get back into!”

Karl is also looking forward to playing the Vodafone Comedy Carnival, which runs in Galway from October 25-31. 

“It becomes a bit of a comedy roast where all the comedians slag each other,” he says.

“The lads always go for a fat joke on me. One of the great things about Operation Transformation is that it’s going to make it really hard for them this year, as they’ll have to think of something else to slag me about.”