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eating for a living Comedian Josh Jones pays tribute to Northern Ireland for giving him his big break

The 28-year-old has been gigging around comedy clubs for years, and although all his live work dried up last year in the pandemic.

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Gemma Bradley and Kristian Nairn watch Josh Jones on the big screen

Gemma Bradley and Kristian Nairn watch Josh Jones on the big screen

Gemma Bradley and Kristian Nairn watch Josh Jones on the big screen

Comic Josh Jones has said thanks to Northern Ireland for giving him his big TV break.

And the Manchester comedian fulfilled another dream on new show Fast Food Face Off when he hung out with Game of Thrones star Kristian Nairn.

Josh was recruited by Belfast TV company Stellify Media, makers of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, to front a pilot for the new BBC One format, a battle of the takeaways.

He enlisted local Radio 1 star Gemma Bradley and Kristian, the Lisburn actor and DJ who played Hodor in the TV epic, for the battle of the burgers, and says he had the time of his life.

"Who doesn't want to eat for work?" says Josh.

"It's the sort of food you try not to have very often, and I've just got out of a relationship when you're trying to keep your body in check, so having nice, proper food was amazing.

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Actor Kristian Nairn

Actor Kristian Nairn

Actor Kristian Nairn

"Then Kristian was telling me all about Game of Thrones, and I've watched all of it, and we were filming next to where it was made, so I'm sitting next to Hodor, right next to Game of Thrones."

The 28-year-old has been gigging around comedy clubs for years, and although all his live work dried up last year in the pandemic, he started getting TV work like 8 Out of 10 Cats, before landing his first presenting role with the BBC.

"I was a bit nervous because I've never done anything like this before and it's very different from doing stand-up," he says.

"But everyone was so much fun to work with, and they let me do it how I wanted to, which was a lot of messing about.

"I loved that it was a Northern Ireland company I was working with because I'm northern."

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He pitted radio presenter Gemma's choice Tribal Burger against Kristian's favourite take away, The Hatch, and then judged them after two days of eating.

The comedian says Tribal's bacon fries with cheese were unforgettable and the mac 'n' cheese burger from The Hatch, an Irish award-winner, was one of the best he's ever tasted.

Josh also got a crash course on local delicacies which included an Ulster fry, a Belfast bap and anything with potatoes.

"I was a bit shocked at how good they were, and I had to judge it, and then we had dinner breaks in between," says Josh.

"It was a pilot, but I'd love it to become a series.

"For TV you just have to write different material because you're not in the clubs any more and you can't do that stuff because it's too rude to say it on TV."

The comic has built a reputation as a baby-faced assassin, with an innocent face which allows him to get away with murder.

He's previously played at The Empire in Belfast and says the only way to learn was to push himself.

"I've gigged to people who look like my dad, proper blokey men and then I walk on as this flamboyant gay guy.

"You have to learn how to get good quick or they will be brutal, but it's a good experience when you're cutting your teeth.

"I've done village halls, a function for 300 farmers in the back of a barn. They were expecting someone like Roy Chubby Brown, and I walked on stage, but I'm not fazed by a little bit of homophobia.

"I have an innocent face and I'm quite good at putting an audience down because I can get away with it.

"Sometimes if you're heckled a switch goes off and you must destroy them."

Josh has also built a huge online following with his podcast Dead Drama, dishing the dirt on historical figures from William Shakespeare to Amelia Earhart.

"In school it was really boring, but I wanted to know who was sleeping with who, the soap opera side of history," says Josh.

Fast Food Face Off is on BBC iPlayer from tomorrow and screens on BBC1 on Monday July 19 at 10.35pm.

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