In an interview with TV Times magazine The Hairy Bikers tell all about their new show The Hairy Dieters (BBC2, Thursday)…

You’re The Hairy Bikers – you don’t count calories!
“Alas, that’s the problem. We love food and drink, but we’ve got the dreaded middle-age paunches to show for it.”
Si: “And they bring huge health implications. The UK has a got a big problem with middle-age obesity. We realised we needed a change in lifestyle, a mind-shift, else we really weren’t going to be very well.”

Has your job, by its very nature, taken a toll on your bodies?
“Without a doubt. We spent four months last year sampling the finest patisseries in Europe, had a thoroughly good Christmas and then went filming in the States. We were bigger than we’d ever been.”
Si: “We’ve always eaten a bit of what we fancy all of the time, instead of a bit of what we fancy some of the time. Food is our passion, our living, but we haven’t been sensible.”

Any personal reasons for wanting to slim down?
“Yeah, vanity. I saw myself on telly and thought, ‘Blimey, what a bloater!’ Then a journalist described me on a Ducati bike as, ‘like a pot-bellied pig trying to mount an antelope.'”
Si: “Weight comes with all sorts of emotional baggage and I’ve had to look at the reasons I eat.”

Okay, ’fess up – how bad had things got?
“I was 17st 12lb, with a 42in waist. I’d basically put on a stone a decade. I was 14st in my 20s, 15 in my 30s, 16 in my 40s and, aged 54, I was pushing 17-and-a-half stone. Like most blokes, I don’t own scales, so hadn’t noticed it creeping on.”
Si: “I was 19st 6lb with a 40in waist.”

So what did you decide?
“To lose two-and-half stone each. But it was never going to work if we had to nibble on salads or stop cooking because it’s our life. Somehow we had to make food that was big on taste and small on calories.”
Si: “There was no way I was prepared to suck on a carrot stick. If we were doing this, it had to be our way, so our mission was to create great recipes that don’t compromise on taste. We’ve developed a pie you can eat without guilt, and our Masala Chicken recipe is epic.”

What about exercise? Is it true you ditched your beloved motorbikes?
“Aye, we’ve been slaves to combustion engines for years and now we’re on pedal bikes! It’s actually been a good laugh. I never thought I’d say that.”
Dave: “Our weight was physically slowing us down; I’d started to shuffle and couldn’t bend over because my belly was in the way. Now I feel so much fitter, so different.”

What’s been the hardest thing to give up?
“Booze. I now drink once a week. And a good old cheese board!”
Si: “Same, I’m not one for opening a bottle of wine and just having a glass, I’d drink the lot. I miss bread and butter too. It was my guilty pleasure.”

Are you hoping to persuade Britain to lose weight too?
“Losing weight is a very personal journey and we’d never preach, but if our fans see how diet can stop the onset of heart attacks, strokes and type two diabetes – and follow suit – we’ll be happy men.”
Si: “I really hope the lads of Britain will be inspired by our journey. If we can do it, anyone can.”