Wednesday 18 January 2017

Maia Dunphy on her husband Johnny Vegas: 'When I first met Johnny, I didn't think very much of him'

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 28/02/2016 | 02:30

Johnny Vegas and wife Maia Dunphy only moved in together for the first time this year, after nearly four years of marriage.
Johnny Vegas and wife Maia Dunphy only moved in together for the first time this year, after nearly four years of marriage.
New era: Maia Dunphy. Photo: Mark Nixon.
Maia Dunphy with husband Johnny Vegas and their son Tom.

Maia Dunphy (39) is a TV presenter, writer and producer. After many years working behind the camera on shows such as Podge & Rodge, she made her on-screen debut hosting the documentary From Boom to Maternity in 2012. She has since written and hosted a number of successful TV documentaries including the critically acclaimed Merlot & Me and the four-part What Women Want series.

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She married comedian Johnny Vegas in 2011, and she remained living in Dublin while he was based in England for nearly four years. They now live together in London with their seven-month-old son Tom and Michael (11), Johnny's son from a previous relationship.

Johnny Vegas and wife Maia Dunphy only moved in together for the first time this year, after nearly four years of marriage.
Johnny Vegas and wife Maia Dunphy only moved in together for the first time this year, after nearly four years of marriage.

When I first met Johnny, I didn't think very much of him. He was on Podge & Rodge, and everybody wanted to go on the piss with him. I was thinking: "God, that guy's a liability." Two years later, he came back, and I asked him for an interview for a newspaper. The interview never got done - our tea was swapped for drinks, and we went on the tear for about 12 hours. We had so much fun.

He texted me asking if he could take me for a meal. When I got home, there was a handwritten card with a wax seal with my initials on the back, in this beautiful calligraphy. He said how nice it was to meet me and how much he was looking forward to dinner. I couldn't turn down dinner with a man who does that!

He gave me this bag of individually wrapped presents. Things that I'd mentioned - my lip liner that had cracked, some movie I'd never seen. I had even forgotten I'd mentioned them! It was really, really sweet.

I never looked back. No one ever believes it, they say, "That Johnny Vegas? The drunk lad?" But he still does things like that, he is a die-hard romantic!

Johnny and I never lived together until a year ago. That was the norm, it wasn't remotely odd. Now living together is odd. It's like: "Jesus, is that what you're like?" Most people iron that stuff out before they get married, but we didn't. The first few months were not domestic bliss - oh my God, there were rows over everything, from toilet seats to stacking dishwashers.

Long distance suited us because we were both really busy. Our end goal was always to live together, but we couldn't work out where - London was really the result of a process of elimination.

Moving to London, getting pregnant so quickly and being pregnant in a new city was tough. I stepped in to a full-time step-mum role as well, which I hadn't done before, so it was a baptism of fire.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was terrified. People kept saying to me, "You're 38, what the hell is wrong with you?" I've never actively not wanted children, but when you're a freelancer and you're traveling a lot, other things just take priority. When the subject of kids came up, I'd always say, "Not now."

Maia Dunphy and her husband Johnny Vegas at the launch of the Dogs Trust Fur Ball. Photo: Fran Veale
Maia Dunphy and her husband Johnny Vegas at the launch of the Dogs Trust Fur Ball. Photo: Fran Veale

I've liked being a mum much more than I thought I would. At first I thought, I'm not sure if this is what I want. That sounds very self-indulgent, but you can't apologise for how you feel. I just thought, if I'm not sure about pregnancy, then I'm going to be a dreadful mum. I was pretty anxious for the whole nine months, but then he arrived, and I'm very, very happy now.

I'm finding it very hard raising the baby away from home. I love travel, I love change, I've never liked things staying the same, but at the same time, I'm very close to my mum, and when you have a new baby and you're in a big new city,

I had no idea what a big deal babies are for the rest of your family. My brother's become an uncle for the first time and my sister's an auntie, my parents are grandparents for the first time, and there's so much joy there that I hadn't even thought of. There's a whole different element to motherhood, because it changes the whole dynamic of a family and brings us closer together.

I don't particularly like living in London. I like finally being with my husband, but I'd much rather be in Dublin. I'm trying not to let it get me down because at the moment, that's where my life is a lot of the time, and I'm lucky it's not Australia.

I like my own company. I spend a lot of time working on my own, but being on your own by choice is different to being on your own because there's no one to go and see. London is brilliant if you've already found your tribe. I moved there before I found anybody.

My dad's been telling me since I was a kid not to sweat the small stuff. I still find it very hard not to, but I try my best.

I don't do gyms. I don't do exercise, I don't do crazy diets. I don't do extremes, I think they are doomed to fail.

I always walk everywhere. It's about clearing my head and talking to myself, but without moving my lips because that looks a bit weird.

I don't suddenly want to just be defined as a mum. But when Nurofen asked me to work on their campaign, it really resonated with me. Tom is seven months old, and every day has a different new 'first' and a different new worry. I think it's good to talk about those things.

Maia Dunphy has teamed up with Nurofen for Children on its #FeverFighters campaign. She's helped to create a series of parenting videos which will be available on the Nurofen for Children app and Nurofen Ireland YouTube Channel from March

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