Thursday 5 December 2019

Interrogation: TV presenter and producer Baz Ashmawy

He's been around the world with his dear old mum Nancy and now Baz tells Doug Whelan that family life is far more important than the fame used to live for...

Baz Ashmawy
Baz Ashmawy

Profession: TV presenter and producer

What are you promoting today, and why?

It's our new show 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy. I'd been talking to Sky for ages about doing something but in the travel genre it's hard to come up with new ideas. Then one day my mum started talking about doing a skydive; the first thing I thought was she's off her medication!

I was a bit dismissive, which I think might have hurt her feelings. But she became obsessed with it, and kept telling me we could do it together. So I looked in to it for her and that's where the idea for the show came from, I thought if we're going to do it, let's really do it.

So I just started coming up with a list of crazy, dangerous and exciting things we can do around the world together. I wanted to do these amazing things and show how amazing my mum is, but for it to be the backdrop of a story about a mother and son, a real relationship. I wanted something that felt real. It's been a really surreal experience.

What is the most rewarding thing about your life?

I'd have to say at the moment, the privilege of what I'm doing right now. I'm sentimental and a bit soft and my mum is the opposite, but yeah doing this with her is such a privilege. God forbid when she's not around anymore, in 30 years I'll have all these stories and I'll be able to tell my kids and their kids. It'll be something special in my family.

Why do you do what you do for a living?

I believe you never feel as alive as when you think you're about to die. My mum has always brought me up to believe you can do anything. And I think she's incorrect to a certain extent but that belief that you can do anything is a very important trait.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I think I should think a bit more. I can be very impulsive and a bit stubborn so I'm always trying to change that.

What's the rumour about you that's bothered you the most?

Well it wasn't a rumour, more of an untruth, but I read before online that my name is derived from an old Celtic name! O'Smaodhigh or something! And I remember thinking who takes the time to make this stuff up. But yeah I'm proud of my Egyptian heritage so them taking that away from me was pretty hurtful.

It's Sunday night, you're curling up to watch TV. What's on your DVR?

50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy of course! Also Vikings, which is brilliant, and Penny Dreadful. They were both shot in Ireland too, which is great.

What's the most shamefully uncool album you own?

Oh, probably a Whitesnake album. I'm sure there are loads more embarrassing albums in there too.

Do you like being well known?

It's funny; I used to live for it when I was younger. Now as I get older I see it as a job, you know. I love the feeling of having made something that lots of people will see and be entertained by but the fame thing is only an offshoot of that. I'm more interested in my family now. Showbiz parties, guest list, that's all a bag of shite really. You get bored of that.

What drives you on a daily basis?

I worked in a recruitment job in London for years that I was very successful at but I hated it. I was good at it but it was just paying the bills. So now I get to get up every morning and work at something I love and I'm very fortunate to be able to say that.

Who is your hero?

My mum! I travelled the world looking for inspiration and places that will inspire me. But after doing this journey with her I realised my inspiration was right there cooking lasagne all along. She's amazing and people will see that in the show.

What makes you emotional?

Things like my family, my kids. As soon as you have children everything changes immediately. And it affected my own relationship with my mother because you appreciate everything your own parents did in a different way. You have a different slant on life. So my kids, definitely.

What's your favourite day of the week?

Probably Saturday, it has to be doesn't it? I mean a nice lie in is great but when you have two kids that becomes a thing of the past. There is no day or night!

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I hope that I'll be still living in Ireland but producing really good TV shows. I see myself staying behind the camera more as time goes by. That's what I hope to be doing so we'll see. I love the process of putting a show together, and as a presenter you can't just keep showing up and expecting everything to be put together for you. So that or presenting the Late Late Show!

How To Kill Your Mammy is on Sky One Mondays at 9pm

Baz's beginnings

Baz was born Ahmed Bacyl Ashmawy in Tripoli in 1975. He grew up in Cairo before his parents moved to Dublin in 1981.

Irish Independent

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