Inside ITV The 1% Club host Lee Mack's life - from being sacked from Pontins to giving up alcohol

Lee Mack, the presenter of The 1% Club, has certainly come a long way from his modest beginnings in Southport.

The 55-year-old Lancashire comedian and presenter has been a familiar face on our televisions for the past two decades, featuring in shows like Would I Lie To You?, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

Through his stand-up routines and TV interviews, he's offered fans glimpses into his life away from the spotlight, reports the Mirror.

As he hosts the popular ITV gameshow, we delve into his off-screen life - from being fired by Pontins to quitting alcohol and including his son in one of his gigs.

Lee's early career was far from glamorous, starting as a stable boy and working in a bingo hall after leaving school, even riding Grand National-winning horse Red Rum.

However, his journey into comedy began when he became one of the renowned Blue Coat entertainers at a Pontins Holiday resort in Hemsby, Norfolk.

The resort was seen as one of the premier venues among the Blue Coats, but Lee lost his job there in dramatic style.

Lee Mack spoke about his 'sacking' on The Graham Norton Show ( Image: PA) -Credit:PA
Lee Mack spoke about his 'sacking' on The Graham Norton Show ( Image: PA) -Credit:PA

He had always harboured ambitions to try stand-up comedy but lacked the courage until a friend persuaded him - and a bit of liquid courage gave him the confidence he needed.

The comedian reminisced about his early days during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show in 2020, saying: "I got very drunk, I had a go at doing it as Blue Coat. My mate said to me to just copy all the other comedians at Pontins and steal their jokes and basically talk to the front row."

He recalled one particular joke that was a guaranteed hit, where the Blue Coat would ask audience members where they were from, which always used to "take the roof" off.

However, after indulging in a few drinks, Lee found himself struggling to remember the punchlines, leading to a disastrous first attempt at stand-up comedy. "I tried it, but I was very drunk," he admitted.

His performance was so poor that he ended up getting "sacked" from the resort and was relegated to working at Morecambe Pontins as a form of punishment.

Despite this rocky start, Lee's career eventually took off.

He recounted how after performing his first open mic night while at Brunel University in 1994, he became a professional comedian within just 18 months.

His breakthrough came when he won So You Think You're Funny at the 1995 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, followed by embarking on live tours.

Lee didn't quit drinking immediately after being fired; it was much later that he decided to become teetotal, influenced by a book.

"Probably the number one reason I gave up drinking was a book recommendation. I read a book (by famous author Allen Carr) that changed my whole attitude to alcohol," he shared on his I Can't Believe It's Not Buddha podcast in 2021.

Lee Mack, the ambassador for Alcohol Concern and a familiar face as a team captain on Would I Lie To You?, nearly pulled the plug on his hit BBC sitcom Not Going Out.

The show, which debuted on BBC One in 2006, faced an issue when its reruns on UKTV's Dave were being linked with alcohol advertisements.

"We make it on the BBC, but then it ends up on commercial channels, and is heavily sponsored by beer," he expressed to Radio Times.

Lee and his wife Tara were university sweethearts and share three kids ( Image: Getty Images for BAFTA) -Credit:Getty Images for BAFTA
Lee and his wife Tara were university sweethearts and share three kids ( Image: Getty Images for BAFTA) -Credit:Getty Images for BAFTA

"This is my life. I spend 10 months a year doing this, and suddenly I feel like I'm in a brewer's marketing department, and my work is being used to sell booze."

The comedian was ready to halt production over the sponsorship clash, but contractual complexities arose.

Ingeniously, Lee found a potential workaround by considering the creation of a new programme under a different name.

He revealed that he would have gone through with it, "but then Dave relented".

Lee has been happily married to his university sweetheart Tara since 2005, and they reside in Surrey with their three children, Millie, Arlo, and Louie.

His family life isn't just personal joy but also a wellspring of inspiration for his comedy.

In fact, he shared with Radio Times how his offspring have influenced his work, with Arlo even featuring in the 2013 Christmas special of Not Going Out.

"They're really not bothered whether it's on or not," he said of his popular comedy show.

"My wife doesn't really watch it and although my eldest has just started to, it's not his favourite show by a long way and why would it be?"

He continued: "The only feedback I get from him is the occasional slightly arched eyebrow if he likes one of my character's jokes. That's high praise in my house."

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