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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
The weird world of Louis Theroux
Louis Theroux
Theroux examines the weirder side of society
TV presenter Louis Theroux has never been one to shy away from the weirder side of life - in fact, he has made his name interviewing eccentric characters.

Still to come in the present series are programmes on former shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe and ex-boxer Chris Eubank.

Previous subjects have notably included Sir Jimmy Savile and magician Paul Daniels.

In earlier series, he plumbed the depths of American society, rubbing shoulders with the Ku Klux Klan and alien hunters.

Louis Theroux, Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee
Theroux spent time with Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee

The son of travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux, he was born in Uganda before going to school in London.

After graduating from Oxford University, he decided to spend time in America with his older brother Marcel, who is also a writer.

Following in the family footsteps, Theroux become a journalist on the satirical magazine Spy in New York.


His television break came when he joined baseball cap-wearing Michael Moore on the TV Nation show, with the special role of interviewing the weird and wonderful.

Theroux joined the BBC in 1995 and embarked on a television journey which would see him travel to the corners of America in search of quirky characters.

The first series of Weird Weekends received critical acclaim as he found ever stranger folk to film.

Despite the controversial ideas of some of the people he tackles, more often than not they take him to their heart and open their homes to him.

Far-right extremists, swingers and female bodybuilders have also been put under the Theroux microscope.

Louis Theroux
The presenter met his match against a female bodybuilder

"Sometimes I do laugh," he has told BBC News Online. "My favourite characters are the ones who are who are weird but can laugh at themselves as well. They are fun to be around and you can have a chuckle.

"There are a few characters who are weird and if you laugh they can't handle it. A good example of this was a guy called Thor Templar who was first in the UFO show.

"He claimed to have killed 10 aliens. He described shooting them with a ray-gun and then using a sharp edged instrument to chop their heads off. At that point I started giggling and he didn't really like it."

But despite the fact that Thor couldn't see the funny side, Theroux still keeps in touch with him. "He's still really weird."

He allowed himself to be put through an intense training session while investigating the world of professional wrestling.

Training with a group of wannabe wrestlers he looked about fit to drop and genuinely scared.

Unfortunately for Theroux, the coach felt he had not been given his due respect and would not let the flagging presenter off the hook until he had vomited three times.

He also joined a swingers party - in a professional capacity - but found the experience embarrassing.

He said of the event: "I have a girlfriend as well and I felt very, very awkward. I thought by being there 'Am I advertising my availability? Am I going to be press-ganged into taking part in an orgy?'"

When Theroux moved on to celebrity documentaries, his first subject was the cigar-smoking Sir Jimmy Savile, whom he followed around for three days.

Although Sir Jimmy seemed to be the butt of many of Theroux's jokes, the pair have remained in contact, and apparently the fundraiser was pleased with the final programme.

Paul Daniels, Debbie McGee and Ann Widdecombe have gone on record as saying it was show with Sir Jimmy that persuaded them to appear with Theroux.

See also:

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