Linford Christie on turning down Strictly, wanting a black version of Friends and why he hates reality shows (even though he was on one)
The former sprinter can't dance, loves Kirstie Alley and thinks the world has gone "too politically correct"...
In The TV That Made Me, you’ve chosen the 70s comedy Love Thy Neighbour as one of your family’s favourites, even though it’s now considered racist. Do you think that’ll surprise people?
It was a comedy, that’s what we saw it as; they were just having a laugh. I think the world has gone a bit crazy, we’ve become too politically correct. It stops people being honest about certain things. There are too many uptight people telling others how they should feel and react. If you kick me, it’s not for you to tell me how loud I have to scream.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners and Grimebusters – my kids joke that I have OCD and that’s why I enjoy them! I also can’t resist repeats of Friends, which hasn’t dated at all. I never went to university or had room-mates, perhaps that’s part of the appeal. Plus Jennifer Aniston is such a good comedian.
We hear you’re as houseproud as Friends’ Monica. Any favourite makeover or property show?
Homes under the Hammer and Grand Designs. I’m always looking for ideas. I’m still into gardening, though I don’t have much time these days, so I like watching Alan Titchmarsh and Monty Don.
Which shows would you revive?
Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Land of the Giants and Lost in Space. I enjoyed them all as a kid. Lost in Space’s grumpy guy, Dr Smith, was an old-school baddie.
Have you got a programme idea you’d like commissioned?
Just the other day I said to my daughter, “Wouldn’t it be nice if someone brought out a black version of Friends?” It could be called Spars, slang for friends and sparring partners.
What makes you turn off the TV? Reality shows.
There are far too many. I know I did I’m a Celebrity, but they’re part of that growing intrusive popular culture. People want their 15 minutes of fame, but they don’t realise it affects their lives for ever.
Who controls the remote?
My kids, always. Now it’s my son, who’s 11. There might be two or three TVs in the house, but they’ll still come to whichever I’m watching and take over.
Perfect TV snack? Grapes and plums.
If I had to be naughty, it might be gourmet crisps or popcorn, but nine times out of ten I’ll choose grapes. I love fruit.
First TV crush?
Kirstie Alley. I was addicted to Cheers.
What was the last show you turned down?
Strictly. I didn’t fancy it because I’m not a good dancer. I’m the only black guy you’ll meet with two left feet. I spent so much time training in my youth that I missed out on dancing. I’d love to be able to dance.
More like this
Who’d play you in a biopic?
Will Smith or Idris Elba if they want me to look smooth. Samuel L Jackson or Morgan Freeman if they’re going for an older version. What makes you shout at the TV? Sports commentators. Most of the time I feel they’re not talking about the same event I’m watching… I tend to watch sport with the sound turned off.
In 1992, at the Barcelona Olympics, you hated the fuss over “Linford’s Lunchbox”. Would you go back in time to do a David Beckham by launching your own underwear range?
Definitely, but I can laugh about it now. It was just the timing. I’d won a gold medal but the headlines were about my physique. And actually, I was later sponsored by [underwear brand] Sloggi, so I got the joke.
Christie guests in The TV That Made Me on Friday at 3:45 pm on 6th August on BBC1