Bradley Walsh — things you didn't know about the TV star

Bradley Walsh wearing a light suit and red tie at a film premier.
Bradley Walsh is one of the most familiar faces on mainstream British TV.

Bradley Walsh is the one of the country's most in-demand TV stars and something of a national treasure.

An actor, comedian, singer and television presenter, Bradley is best known to millions as the hilarious host of the hit ITV show The Chase, which has been a teatime institution since 2009.

He's also gaining a younger fanbase as the frontman of BBC's sporting show Gladiators, which he co-hosts with son Barney Walsh. The pair are no strangers to working together, having starred in five seasons of their comedy travelogue Bradley & Barney Walsh: Breaking Dad.

Bradley is famed for his roles on primetime shows such as Coronation Street, Law & Order: UK, Doctor Who and The Darling Buds of May spin-off The Larkins

But that's not all, he's also a popular theatre star and successful singer, having released two studio albums, one of which placed in the top 10 of the UK Album Charts.

Here are a few other things you may not know about Brad...

Bradley and Barney Walsh

Bradley & Barney Walsh in Breaking Dad. (Image credit: ITV)

Bradley Walsh was tipped for stardom at a young age

Bradley John Walsh was born on June 4, 1960 in Watford, to a Scottish mother, Margaret and English father, Daniel. He grew up in the are of Leavesden, and has one sister called Kerri. 

Bradley was educated at Francis Combe School in Garston and was clearly tipped for a career in front of the cameras from a young age. In fact, he was voted most likely to become a TV host by his fellow pupils.

After leaving school at 16, Bradley's first job was working as an apprentice jet engineer for Rolls-Royce helicopter engines. He joined the company's football team, and after impressing them with his ball skills, was snapped up by a talent scout for Brentford F.C.

He used to be a professional footballer

Back in 1978, when Bradley was 18, he was signed to Brentford. He stayed with the club for two years, despite never making the first team squad due to injuries, he was regularly a member of the reserves. 

He played for Barnet on loan and also played for Tring Town, Borehamwood and Chalfont St Peter before an ankle fracture brought his footballing career to an end.

Bradley's love of the great game has continued. He's a keen supporter of Arsenal and even commentated on the FA Cup Final in 2002, where his team triumphed against Chelsea.

He's done his bit for charity too - competing in the All Stars team against Liverpool Legends for the Hillsborough Memorial Match in May 2009, and representing Team England in the 2006 and 2010 Soccer Aid matches.

His Coronation Street character was named after his real-life father

It may come as a surprise to some of Bradley's fans that he's starred in not one, but two different soaps. 

In 2002, he joined the cast of the short-lived ITV soap Night and Day as Eddie 'Woody' Dexter, starring in 52 episodes. 

Soapland beckoned again in 2004, when Coronation Street cast him to play factory boss Danny Baldwin. Bradley was initially reluctant to take the role, but his wife, Donna encouraged him to go for it.

His character was originally supposed to be called Vic, but Bradley asked for his alter-ego to be named Danny after his late father. 

Danny had an eye for the ladies from the word go, and his most explosive storyline saw him have an affair with his son's girlfriend, Leanne Battersby. 

After two years on the cobbles, Bradley decided it was time to go, and Danny left Weatherfield on New Year's Eve 2006 with a beautiful woman on his arm. Naturally.

Bradley Walsh as Danny Baldwin in ‘Coronation Street‘

Bradley Walsh as Danny Baldwin in Coronation Street. (Image credit: Getty Images)

He's an experienced game show host

Following the collapse of his football career, Bradley worked a variety of jobs, including being a bluecoat at Pontins and doing stand-up at his local social club. 

His big break into the entertainment industry came in 1997, when ITV hired him as the new face of their popular game show Wheel of Fortune. 

Bradley went on to host Spin Star, Keep It in the Family, Cash Trapped, and then in 2009 came the call to present The Chase. 15 series on he is the undisputed king of the quiz shows, and Bradley's friendly charm and quick-witted banter — both with the contestants and Chasers — draw in millions of viewers each day.

He has also hosted numerous poll countdown shows and several episodes of Tonight at the London Palladium.

Beat The Chasers' Shaun Wallace, Paul Sinha, Issa Schultz, Bradley Walsh, Darragh Ennis, Jenny Ryan and Mark Labbett (L-R).

Bradley Walsh hosts the ITV hit quiz shows The Chase and Beat the Chasers. (Image credit: ITV)

He once appeared as a contestant on Gladiators

Bradley and son Barney have been entertaining audiences as the co-hosts of Gladiators. The iconic 90s Saturday night gameshow has been brought into the modern era and is attracting a whole new generation of fans.

But what many of them won't know is Brad actually took part in the celebrity version of Gladiators, back in 1997 - and his contestant name was Crumpet! But by his own admission, his performance was pretty poor.

"They (the Gladiators) were a lot fitter, faster, higher, stronger than I could ever be and consequently I was useless," he told The BBC.

Bradley's wife, Donna was also an associate producer of the original series and Barney would often spend time backstage at the show when he was a baby - making it a real family affair!

He based the character of Pop Larkin on one of his mates

Bradley's most recent acting role is playing Pa Larkin in ITV series The Larkins. The iconic character was originally made famous by Sir David Jason in The Darling Buds of May in the 1990s and based on the stories by HE Bates. 

Bradley grew out his sideburns for the nostalgic family show, and in chat with Radio Times he revealed the inspiration for the role came from quite close to home.

He said: "I love Pop Larkin and I love playing him. He is a combination of a couple of friends of mine. Funnily enough, I had a bit of dinner with one of my pals who Pop’s sort of based on and I told him and he was thrilled. As were his wife and kids. So that’s nice!

But there's one downside to playing Pop, as Bradley explained: "I keep a lot of my stuff about my person, and I’ve got pockets in my trousers, waistcoats and jackets. I’ve got about a dozen pockets, so if I put my glasses or pen away, I spend most of the day trying to find where everything is!"

He's a golf fanatic

Footy isn't the only sport that Bradley is passionate about — he's also crazy for golf!

The actor started playing when he was 20, and in 2007 he took part in Northern Rock’s All-Star Golf Tournament on ITV, with his team winning the trophy.

In his spare time, Bradley loves to get his clubs out and has played on golf courses around the world, with the likes of former Chelsea captain John Terry and Dragon's Den investor Peter Jones.

Bradley played in The Northern Rock All Star Cup at the Celtic Manor Hotel in 2006.

Bradley played in The Northern Rock All Star Cup at the Celtic Manor Hotel in 2006. (Image credit: Getty Images)

He's a proud dad and grandad

Bradley has been married to wife Donna Derby since 1997, and they've been together for over thirty years. 

Donna is a former dancer and renowned choreographer and rose to fame starring in Robert Palmer's 1980s hit record Simply Irresistible. 

Smitten Bradley told Saga magazine: "My wife is an amazing person. She provides love and stability in my life."

The couple are parents to a son, Barney, 26. Bradley and Barney are currently co-hosting the BBC reboot of the iconic fitness show, Gladiators.

Bradley is also dad to a 41-year-old daughter, Hayley, from a previous relationship. The star became a grandad in 2021 when Hayley and her husband Tom welcomed a baby boy. 

Cheeky Bradley joked to The Mirror: "I'm going to be a brilliant grandfather because I've got this trick. When the baby grows into a toddler, make sure you spend plenty of time with them, feeding them ice cream and Coca-Cola, and then give them back at just the right time and say to your children, 'There you are, that's what you were like."

Bradley Walsh and son Barney at the Virgin Media Television Awards

Bradley co-hosts Gladiators with son Barney. (Image credit: Getty Images)

He's released an album of classic croons

Chatterbox Bradley always has plenty to say, and he's got a decent singing voice too!

In 2016, Bradley the crooner released his debut album, Chasing Dreams, which got to number 10 in the UK album charts. The album features jazz hits like That's Life and Mr Bojangles, but the title track was a song written by Bradley himself. Impressive!

His second easy listening album, which was released a year later, was When You're Smiling and reached number 11 in the album charts.

Bradley Walsh's fact file

Frequently asked questions about the TV star...

How old is Bradley Walsh?

Bradley Walsh is 63, he was born on June 4, 1960.

Is Bradley Walsh married?

Bradley Walsh has been married to former dancer Donna Derby since 1997.

Does Bradley Walsh have any children?

Bradley Walsh has two grown up children. His daughter, Hayley was born in 1982, and he and wife Donna are parents to son, Barney.

Does Bradley Walsh have any grandchildren?

Bradley has one grandson, who was born in 2021.

Where was Bradley Walsh born?

Bradley Walsh was born in Watford, Hertfordshire.

How tall is Bradley Walsh?

Bradley Walsh is five foot seven.

Instagram: @bradderswalsh

The Chase continues on ITV. Catch up with the latest series of Bradley & Barney Walsh: Breaking Dad on ITVX. 

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.