Phil Tufnell: 'I've definitely cut down on alcohol'

(Image credit: BBC/Maverick TV/Rachel Joseph)

Phil Tufnell joins Julia Bradbury and Doctor Phil Hammond to host the country’s biggest ever mass health screening Long Live Britain (BBC1, Monday). Here he talks about the show and his own health…

So what’s your role in this one-off BBC health special, Long Live Britain?

"We filmed a mass health screening event at Manchester’s Etihad Rugby Stadium earlier in the year. It was a lovely sunny day, there were lots of people around watching the rugby, so I was going around the crowd having a chat with people and telling them where to go to get the tests done."

What were you screening for?

"The three silent killer diseases – Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease – which kill around 200,000 people in Britain every year. But what most people don’t realise is that these diseases are preventable."

How did people react when you asked them to get tested?

"People were generally up for taking part, especially a lot of the fellas who admitted they don’t look after themselves as much as they should. We showed them how easy it is to get checked out and that if they follow some simple advice on diet and lifestyle, they can save their life."

Did you know this already or did you also learn a lot?

"It was a fascinating day for me -  a big eye opener and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I came away with some useful tips – just little lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference in the long run."

Anything that particularly struck you, that you personally could do?

"I found out that the liver is an amazing organ as it can repair itself. So just by keeping two or three days a week completely free of alcohol, you can improve your health. I’ve definitely put that into practice.

"I’m also trying to cut down on smoking. I have tried to give up, but it’s an on-going process. I think I’m getting there!"

What about the safe amount alcohol consumption?

"It is very confusing. You sit there and think, ‘Oh that’s all right, I’ve only had seven units. But a large glass of wine is actually three units whereas people will think it’s only one unit. So little things like that were very helpful."

You’ve done lots of TV work since retiring from cricket – presenting sport, The One Show and taking part in Strictly Come Dancing. Are you enjoying it all?

"I’ve found it all very interesting. I like meeting people and having a chat with them so this kind of work suits me. People usually seem quite happy to see me, which is always good!"

Did you chat to any of the celebrities who took part in the screening – Chrissy Rock, EastEnders’ Ricky Grover and Jodie Prenger?

"I had a brief chat with them, but it was quite a busy day. We had 400 odd people all to be processed. There’s a section of the show where we go through all the results and although I can’t give anything away, there were some surprising results, put it that way!"

What are you up to at the moment?

"I’ve got a summer of cricket ahead with the Ashes and if the weather carries on like this, it’ll be great."

Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.