In March 2014, Hairy Biker Si King was “hit with a side swipe” when he was admitted to hospital with severe headaches and discovered he had a life-threatening brain aneurysm.
The TV chef had emergency treatment and is recovering well – “You know what I’m like, I just crack on and keep truckin’” – but the experience has made him appreciate life all the more.
“I nearly died,” the father-of-three says. “I wake up every morning and smile, why wouldn’t you? It’s a salient blessing.”
Today, King is back to business alongside close pal and fellow Hairy Biker Dave Myers, with public appearances, cookery demos and their third diet book, The Hairy Dieters: Good Eating.
The once roly-poly pair, who have been friends for more than 20 years and on our screens for almost a decade, slimmed down in 2012 after embarking on a healthy eating kick.
They are still committed to keeping the calories down – without sacrificing flavour.
“It’s about changing peoples’ perceptions – you can eat very well and eat good food without having lots of fat,” says King, who admits that some weight did creep back on after his health scare.
“For middle-aged men who tend to put on weight and never used to when they were younger, you’ve just got to keep an eye on it.
“I’ve learnt an awful lot about food, and I think we’re better cooks for doing the diet projects.”
Life is returning to normal for County Durham-born King after a difficult year, but he doesn’t take anything for granted.
“It changes your perception to the life you lead, certainly,” the star adds. “But it’s gone from a huge negative into a positive, really. I’m incredibly lucky.”