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Why Paddy wants to be the Biggest Loser

THE only Irishman on the new series of ITV's The Biggest Loser is hoping he'll beat the battle of the bulge in 2011 -- and win a hefty €29,000 in the process.

The Herald can reveal how Paddy Cunningham (28) has been picked as one of the 14 contestants who will take part in the new series of the hit show.

Starting next Monday and presented by former Big Brother presenter Davina McCall, he said it will be "really emotional" to see his journey hit the small screen.

Originally from Sligo but now living in Reading, the Ikea radio presenter weighs 21st 1lbs -- but is hoping he'll shortly be a shadow of his former self thanks to the programme.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing the first episode. Myself and my housemate applied to go on the show last May and I was over the moon when I was picked for it," he explained.

"I had been looking back over pictures of myself and I said 'I don't want to look like this anymore'. When you're overweight, you do often feel excluded and thank God I got on this programme. It is literally a life changing thing for me."

However, he admits that the first episode was particularly difficult for the contestants to film, as it meant stripping off for the cameras.

"All my friends and work colleagues were like 'I could never go on that show'. But it got to a point for me when I just couldn't stay looking like this -- I didn't want to turn 30 and still be like this."

He has joined up with his friend Wil Graham (29), who weights 24st 7lbs, as the two pals embark on a gruelling journey to slim down. Paying tribute to new host Davina, he said: "She is fantastic, so supportive to us and she makes us feel so at ease. I was blown away by how lovely she is in real life."

Follow Paddy's progress from Monday January 10 at 9pm on TV3 and UTV