'My mum doesn't watch me on TV - she prefers Holby!' TV's Dr Christian Jessen, 40, on having the campest dog ever, struggling to be happy with his own body, and why he takes his work home with him.
Waiting to be called in to talk to Dr Christian is a bit like being in a GP's waiting room. Except we're at a swish hotel and so, instead of toddlers with toothache and piles of well-thumbed mags, we're surrounded by smart waiters and plush furnishings. And when we do get called in, it's definitely our chirpiest doctor's appointment to date.
For here's a man who's made his career - and his fortune - from being approachable. So much so that patients suffering from even the most cringesome of ailments opened their hearts to him on C4's Embarrassing Bodies. Now he's back with a second series of the slightly more grown-up Dr Christian Will See You Now, and the stream of patients willing to share their most intimate details on TV doesn't appear to be letting up.
'It's a mystery as to why people are too embarrassed to go to their own GP, but will happily discuss their problem in front of millions of people,' eople,' ked ' he says, answering the question we've all asked ourselves, and dipping his head low over a cup of steaming coffee. 'There's a familiarity to it, I suppose - like when you watch a soap opera a lot and you feel like you know the people in it. Often, people have seen me more than they've seen their own GPs.' ra n ve ng 's nd rm ' But there's also something uniquely soothing about Christian's bedside manner. Today, he's ditched his stethoscope in favour of jeans and a navy jumper. He's as casual and undoctorly as they come, and, just as he is on TV, he's warm and interested. 'I disagree with the whole attitude not to get emotionally involved with patients,' he says thoughtfully, wrapping his long, thin fingers around his coffee cup. 'A lot of doctors have a wall where they don't get involved, probably for seletails protection reasons. But if you don't empathise with a patient's distress, I don't think you can fully treat them. Doctors can end up dividing everything up into specialities and body parts, and not see the bigger picture. Yes, I do take my work home with me, and yes I do lie awake at night wondering if I did the right thing, if there is more we can do, and if they're going to be alright. But if you aren't moved by the stories you hear, good or bad, I don't think you're human.' It's a decade since Christian first appeared on our screens in Embarrassing Bodies. He went on to also present Supersize vs Superskinny, and casually win celeb editions of Ready, Steady, Cook, and Antiques Master. Think TV doc, and he will probably be the first face that springs to mind. But being the very public face of the medical profession comes with its own set of concerns. 'It's terrifying, and it's something I worry about a lot,' he says. 'When I first started out it felt like I was doing my university exams again, only this time in front of the whole nation. But my dad didn't think it was a proper job for ages, and my mum watches Holby City instead of my shows!' ' There's also the question of being spotted. At 6ft 2 and with his distinctive blond hair, keeping a low'Rogerio me my were - you honesty relationship' profile isn't always easy - though he's developed what he calls 'the walk'. 'It's a head down, hurried look, and it works a bit like an invisibility cloak,' he laughs. 'It doesn't work when you're trapped in a taxi, though: cabbies always want a diagnosis! As soon they say, "You're that doc off the telly, ain't ya?" I think, "Oh heck, here we go."' As he talks, Dr Christian fidgets endlessly, crossing and uncrossing his long limbs, grinding the cushions down with his elbows and sinking deep into the sofa, before springing up a little manically whenever a topic of conversation takes his fancy. We cover a lot of ground - his 'personal hero' Prince Harry, behind the scenes bets with other doctors on what various ailments will turn out to be, his friendship circle of glamorous West End stars - but there's one subject we've been instructed not to ask about today: his partner Rogerio.
Together, Brazilian-born Rogerio and half-Danish Christian are an absurdly handsome couple. They live together in London with their Chihuahua Max ('I'm obsessed with him. Could I have a camper dog?'), and Christian is obviously such a smitten kitten that the conversation keeps turning back to him, offering us tantalising glimpses into their lives together.
'Rogerio endures having a famous partner,' he says, before clamming up. Then later, 'I went through a stage of trying to make cakes until Rog had to tell me politely that they were inedible. You need truth in your life. Relationships are based on honesty.' Christian's family have always been supportive, but in his younger years he struggled to come to terms with his sexuality. 'I grew up as a gay boy and had to deal with all that it entails: deciding how you fit into the world, thinking that you are letting your parents down, and all the things you think of in your head. When I got to medical school and realised other people were openly gay, I was like, "Oh my God.
There are other people like me,"' he says. 'It was exciting because "my type" was around. But I was in a profession where it was very traditional, stuffy, old-fashioned, regressive, quite racist, quite homophobic. You name it, it was there. When the TV show started, I felt like there were lots of ways I could stick two fingers up at the profession. Change the way young doctors approach medicine, knock 'em off their pedestals (but in a nice way!) and make them a bit more human.' told cakes inedible ' Christian is exceptionally candid about the struggles he's faced in the past. He's written a series of books for young people, tackling everything from puberty to sexual health. And he's also spoken out about his battle with muscle dysmorphia, a form of dysmorphia that caused him to work out obsessively. Despite weighing a hefty 14 stone and being as muscular as the hunk from the Diet Coke ad, in his head, Christian saw himself as a 7-stone weakling.
need in a Thankfully, Christian has now eased off the gym. He might not be as bulky as in his weight-lifting days, but he's still tall and well built - and most importantly, he's happier. 'I used to go to the gym a lot, but I've purposefully tried to ease off it. It can be addictive, and with the sort of issues I had, it can get out of hand. People were telling me I was getting ridiculously big I cut back to prove to myself that I could. The bottom line is, I'm more relaxed up here now,' he says, tapping the side of his head. 'I stay off Instagram, because I don't think it's healthy - all that comparison, comparison, comparison with an ideal that doesn't actually exist.' Keen to round off our chat on a high note, Christian reaches across the table and picks up his phone, scrolling for pictures of Max. 'I look like every stereotype of a gay man ever!' he laughs. 'It's like Legally Blonde. I tuck him into my coat and walk along with his little head bobbing. If Rog is watching me on TV, Max gets very focused - he cocks his head to one side and gazes at the screen.' Next time, bring the pooch along, please, Dr C! | | HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR SUNDAY? | Weekend away or Sunday brunch at home? I'm very happy at home because it's so rare. As I've got older I like being at home more - it's very much my kingdom.
| Lazy lie-in or up with the lark? I'm not a morning person at all - I don't even know my own name before 9am - I'm grumpy and disorientated like a teenage boy. Even if I go to bed early I can't sleep until late, it's very frustrating.
| Hungover or fresh as a daisy? I haven't had a hangover since New Year's Day. When I was a medical student it was different - they're notorious for drinking like fish. A hangover for me is all about junk food, Netflix and moaning.
| Sunday lunch at home or pub roast? I'm a terrible cook, but I still do the cooking.
| Running errands or pampering? I hate massages because I'm very British about personal space. I once had a salt scrub at a spa, and I was lying naked in a room with a stranger and I freaked out. But I also don't want to be running errands all weekend So, neither.
| How did you spend last Sunday? Filming this show! We've been filming intensively.
| Cooked breakfast or porridge? A club sandwich. I'm not a super health nut at home, because I don't think that's healthy. B*llocks to clean eating. Ask a clean eater if they're genuinely happy, they may say yes, but I wouldn't believe the answer. We make life much harder than it needs to be - being healthy doesn't mean restricting yourself and being miserable.
DR CHRISTIAN WILL SEE YOU NOW, 9.15PM, 31 OCTOBER ON W CHANNEL.
'Rogerio told me my cakes were inedible - you need honesty in a relationship'
From left: with Dr Dawn and Dr Pixie on Embarrassing Bodies; presenting Supersize vs Superskinny; on Undercover Doctor: Cure me, I'm Gay; and back in the days when he suffered from muscle dysmorphia and worked out obsessively at the gym
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|Publication:||The People (London, England)|
|Date:||Oct 29, 2017|
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