50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy host Baz Ashmawy shows softer side on DIY SOS
The star has recently become a grandfather
AS the ostensibly sadistic (but secretly quite sweet) star of 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy, Baz Ashmawy famously put his long-suffering mum Nancy through hell. Sky-diving, whitewater rafting, crocodile wrestling — nothing was too terrifying for the presenter to sign his 79-year-old mother up for on the Emmy-winning series, which ran on Sky One from 2014-2016.
So it’s no wonder that Ireland’s bravest granny now dreads an invite for so much as a minibreak with her only child. “I’d be lucky to get her away for a weekend with me,” Baz says as he laughs off any possibility of roping the Wicklow woman into another season of the hit adventure show. “She doesn’t trust me anymore. I think she’s the only granny to get a crash helmet for Christmas!
“She’s living her best life. Sure she’s wandering around the Canaries in her flip-flops for the last seven months.
"It’s strange being away [from each other] for that long. It’s just not the same on the phone or whatever. But she’s better off there.
“She’s with all her pals; they’re having a good time. I think she’s going to come back soon enough so I’m really looking forward to seeing her. I miss her. And I know she misses the grandkids so I think she’s looking forward to getting back as well.”
The tight-knit pair now have even more in common after Baz became a grandad when step-daughter Charlotte and her partner Brian welcomed baby Lilly last March.
“Being a grandad is great. I suppose when you get to 46 you’re a pretty average looking dad, but I’m a pretty hot grandad as grandads go — so that’s the way I see it.
“It’s just nice having a baby around again, to be honest, and we’re just very proud of Charlotte and how well she’s doing as a mum. It’s a really, really sweet feeling. After a crappy two years, it’s been the best thing that’s happened.”
Family man Baz, who has a blended clan of six children aged from eight up to 25 with fiancée Tanja Evans, scored another television success with RTÉ’s DIY SOS: The Big Build Ireland during lockdown.
Now back for a second season, the big-hearted property show with a twist sees an army of volunteers, including some of the country’s top architects, builders and designers, transform the homes — and lives — of Ireland’s most deserving families.
Once again, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house for the season premiere when motivator-in-chief Baz and his team helped the Alyward family in Kilkenny make their dream home an accessible reality, after dad Johnny was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of Motor Neurone Disease.
“I talk to Johnny nearly every day,” tells the presenter. “I still talk to Amy [Mulcahy from Limerick] from the first series and I’d give [her mum] Sharon a call every now and then. I kind of touch base with all the guys at some stage or another.
“When people let you into their lives and they share their story with you, you can’t help but have a connection with them. It’s a very personal thing. They probably don’t tell the stories to anybody, really — what their worries are, what their hopes are, and then they’re telling me all these things, so you become very tight with them.
“I think it was just good seeing people doing good things,” he continues of the show’s perfectly timed, feelgood factor. “A lot of people were going, ‘Oh my God, I bawled!’ I think we all needed a cry. I think that was a big part of it as well.
“For whatever reason, it resonates hugely with people so we’ve never really had an awful problem [getting] volunteers. It feels nice to be part of something and to know that you’re going to walk away and that you’ve changed the family’s life. It gives people a bit of self-love.”
A third season of the popular show is already underway, but part-Egyptian Baz, who started out as a travel presenter on How Low Can You Go on RTÉ2 in 2005, and whose job has taken him everywhere from Cambodia to Canada and Costa Rica, admits he’s itching to rack up more air miles.
“I’ve loved travelling around Ireland and being dropped into these small communities and having a great time with them, but I also miss being on the road a lot,” he says. “I’m dying to do some travel shows so I think there’ll have to be something on the cards. I think I’d like to go out to the Middle East. I’d like to go out to Jordan or Syria or that side of the world.
“It’s not even just the travel, it’s the adventure. That’s the thing I enjoy most and that hasn’t changed as I’ve gotten older. It’s why I brought mum away — to have an adventure. It gives you a love for life and places and people.”
But the former 2FM presenter confesses it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to go to the Amazon,” tells Baz. “Then I ended up going to the Amazon with my mum and it was just the most awful experience.
“It was just us getting bitten day and night. The only thing that got me through it [was] my mother hated it more than I did, which I found quite funny.”
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