With a lot of TV double acts there’s a suspicion that, when the cameras stop rolling, so does the ‘friendship’.
That was never the case with the Hairy Bikers, perhaps our most unlikely TV foodies, who were mates for 20 years before fame beckoned and have long described themselves as more like brothers than friends.
Can you get greater proof of their bond, though, than the one emerging now, when Si King – the younger, taller one – is talking about the recent brain aneurysm that nearly killed him?
Rushed to hospital after suffering a headache he likens to being attacked with rusty nails and a hammer, he was prepared for emergency surgery. His family gathered at his bedside.
One of the first calls his wife Janey made from the hospital was to Dave Myers, his TV sidekick, who dropped everything to dash to his side.
‘Dave’s was the first hand I held after my wife’s when I came round from the op,’ says Si, 46. ‘I think I held your hand before the op too,’ says Dave, 57, as they reflect on the most dramatic chapter in their long friendship.
True to form, it isn’t long before some jokiness makes its way into the life-and-death conversation. ‘Actually there was a lot of hand-holding going on at one point,’ says Dave, reaching for Si. ‘Gerroff!’ he says.
Still, there’s no doubting how serious this was. The risk was that Si would have a stroke which, he says, ‘could have meant curtains’. ‘I’m an incredibly lucky man to even be here today to talk about it,’ he says. ‘I can’t thank the doctors and nurses enough.’
The drama unfolded in March this year, when the pair were in the middle of a book tour and preparing for their next TV jaunt – a trip to the Baltic regions. Si says he hadn’t been feeling well for some time, but had no idea of how serious things were going to get. ‘I’d been having these headaches, and just not feeling myself, but we were doing a busy tour and I didn’t think a lot of it.’
On the Friday before it happened, he and Dave had finished work and gone to the pub for a meal (‘Steak and chips,’ says Dave, who has an uncanny recall of every meal they’ve ever eaten). ‘We were both knackered,’ he says. ‘It had been a busy week.’
The surgery was a success. ‘The doctors said they were pleased with how it had gone,’ says Si. ‘There was a point at which they worried they might have to do a second procedure, which would have been more serious, but they decided no. I was incredibly lucky.’