Iain Lee

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Iain Lee
Iain Lee Hosting The Rabbit Hole Show (cropped).jpg
Lee hosting The Rabbit Hole Show in 2017
Iain Lee Rougvie

(1973-06-09) 9 June 1973 (age 48)
OccupationBroadcaster, writer, comedian
Website iainlee.com

Iain Lee (born Iain Lee Rougvie; 9 June 1973) is an English broadcaster, writer, and former television presenter and stand-up comedian who hosts the phone-in talk show The Late Night Alternative on "pay to view" Patreon.


Lee's career began in the 1990s as a stand-up comedian before he gained nationwide fame as co-host of The 11 O'Clock Show from 1998 to 2000 and the breakfast show RI:SE in 2003. He then embarked on a full-time radio career in 2005, hosting mainly talk-based shows on LBC 97.3, Absolute Radio, BBC Three Counties Radio, BBC Radio WM, and talkRADIO, which earned him numerous radio awards. In July 2020, after his contract at talkRADIO was not renewed, Lee launched his Twitch show. [1] [2]

The "TLNA" programme has since moved from Twitch and relaunched on Patreon.

Early life

Iain Lee Rougvie was born on 9 June 1973 in Slough, then a part of Buckinghamshire. [3] He has Scottish roots. [4] Lee's father worked at the props department at the BBC and his mother was a secretary until she developed multiple sclerosis which put her into an early retirement. The couple divorced when Lee was a youngster. [4]

Lee was raised on a council estate and recalled being bullied by fellow pupils because they considered him posh. [5] By the late 1990s, Lee had dropped the "Rougvie" from his name. He officially changed his name to Iain Lee by deed poll in 2008, due to his troubled relationship with his father. [6] Lee is the nephew of Scottish former footballer Doug Rougvie. He attended Herschel Grammar School in Slough and studied performing arts at Middlesex University. [5]



Lee began a stand-up comedy career in the 1990s, developing his act initially in the London area before performing nationwide. He does not look back on his time as a stand-up fondly, partly due to the fact that he started abusing drugs and alcohol during this time. However, he did meet Mackenzie Crook, also a stand-up comic at the time, who became a longtime friend. [7]


Lee began his radio career in December 1997, presenting a four-hour show on Horizon 103.3, an independent station in Milton Keynes, on Christmas Day. At that point, he was 24 years old with only fifteen minutes experience in a studio and did not take any compliance or Ofcom regulation exam prior. [6] Lee went on to feature on the station's morning program The Morning Crew hosted by Trevor Marshall and Helen Legh, as Iain in Black Thunder and Iain McCartney. [6] From 1999 to 2001, Lee hosted a show on Xfm London.

Lee embarked on a full-time radio career in January 2005, starting with a stint on talk station LBC 97.3. He joined the station hosting weekend evenings before moving to afternoon drive, which he named The 3 Hour 4 'Till 7 Iain Lee Afternoon Wireless Show and later The 3-and-a-Half Hour 3 'Till 6.30 Iain Lee Afternoon Wireless Show. Lee was known for hosting a segment named Triple M (also known as Mental Mayhem or Mick's Mental Mayhem), where calls went straight to air without being pre-screened, which Nick Abbot, Tommy Boyd, and Clive Bull had also done. The segment received its own dedicated slot on Sunday nights in 2007. At the time, management favoured the unique format as they hoped that it would introduce exclusive listeners to the radio station. Lee then hosted the 7–10pm weekday slot which was named Iain Lee's Good Evening. In 2007, Global Radio purchased LBC which led to a change in management, who introduced a talk format of topical and news-driven conversation. Lee's presenting style fell out of favour and he left the station without prior announcement in November 2007. [8]

In January 2008, Lee began to host The Sunday Night Show on Absolute Radio from 10pm to 1am that featured music and talk. [9] In April 2009, Lee wrestled a listener which was broadcast the following month. [10] From 12 October 2009, Lee took over the Monday to Thursday evening slot. In October 2011, the station announced that Lee's contract would be terminated with immediate effect by mutual agreement. His departure occurred during a court case in which a listener was accused of harassing Lee, his wife, and the show's producer. [11]

Lee in 2015 Next Radio 2015 (21274340969).jpg
Lee in 2015

From 2012 to 2015, Lee presented the weekday breakfast show on BBC Three Counties Radio, a local service that served Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, and Buckinghamshire. He later said that he accepted the job as he was unable to find work elsewhere, and felt "crushed" and a little humiliated about taking it at first. [12] From December 2013, Lee also presented a Saturday morning show on BBC Radio WM, the BBC's West Midlands service, which was followed by a Friday afternoon slot on the station from September 2014. He left the station in the following August, citing that management considered Lee hosting both slots as "odd" and wanted him to just present on Saturdays, which he rejected. [13] In May 2014, Lee's Three Counties show won a Radio Academy Award for Breakfast Show of the Year (Under 10 Million). [14] On 12 August 2014, Lee was accused of saying a racist comment to a Three Counties producer following an on-air argument, in which Lee stated: "Go on, go and do the black and Asian show. Bye bye." [15] The argument was described as banter and the BBC apologised for the comments. [15] In November 2015, Lee was fired from Three Counties. His departure followed complaints received about his interview with a lawyer from Christian Concern earlier in the month, in which Lee accused her of being "bigoted" and "homophobic" after she defended a minister quoting verses from the Bible condemning homosexuality as sinful. [16]

In February 2016, Lee announced that had joined the first line-up of presenters for the launch of a new talk radio station, talkRADIO. The station began to air on 21 March 2016, with Lee hosting The Late Night Alternative from 10pm to 1 am on weekdays. [1] [12] In 2017, he won a Gold Award at the Audio and Radio Industry Awards in the Best Speech Presenter – Non-Breakfast category. [17] He won a second in 2020, this time for Moment of the Year for directing emergency services to a caller who had taken an overdose. [18] [19] Despite the success, Lee announced on 2 June 2020 that his contract was not renewed. [20]

On 10 July 2020, Lee announced that he had been signed by Twitch to continue hosting The Late Night Alternative on its streaming platform. The first launched on 20 July and is recorded from Lee's home in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. [2] [21] The show allows video calls from viewers worldwide. [12]


From 1998 to 2000, Lee was a correspondent and co-host of the satirical comedy show The 11 O'Clock Show on Channel 4. The show became a springboard for comedians Ali G and Ricky Gervais. In one incident, Lee received death threats and had a stalker after he joked about Danniella Westbrook and her drug use. The police advised him to move out of his flat; he lived with Mackenzie Crook and in a hotel before the matter was resolved. [4] In January 2000, Lee and Donovan were criticised by Ofcom for making "death jokes" on the recently murdered Jill Dando. [22] After four series, Lee walked out five days before filming of the fifth was due to start. He later said that it was an unfair move, but felt the quality of the show's humour had declined and Channel 4 had cut its budget. Lee said he would have earned £90,000 if he had stayed. [4]

In 2002, Lee accepted to co-host a relaunch of the Channel 4 live breakfast show RI:SE with reality television star Kate Lawler, from January 2003. The show failed to make an impact in viewing figures, however, and it ended in December 2003. [7] By this time, Lee described himself as a "full blown cocaine addict" and would often smoke cannabis before filming RI:SE and take cocaine afterwards. [7] Lee described the year 2004 as "absolutely terrible" in regard to his career and started to drink to cope with the stress, [4] and spending around £2,000 on cocaine each week. [7] Lee went on to present the video game show Thumb Bandits on Channel 4. Later he made regular appearances on Sky News and This Morning , and hosted the Big Brother companion series Bit on the Psych for Channel 5.

In November 2017, Lee took part in the seventeenth series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! . Lee entered the show on Day 5. During the show, Lee was elected Prime Minister of 10 Downing Creek. Lee made it to the final and finished in third place. He spoke openly about mental health whilst participating in the show. [23]

From the start of 2018, Lee was on the breakfast TV show Good Morning Britain , filling in for Richard Arnold who was taking a 3-week break. [24] [25]

Other work

Lee formerly wrote a gaming column for MSN.co.uk, as well as recording monthly podcasts. [26] He has also appeared on XLeague.tv discussing video games. [27]

Lee has appeared on BBC Radio 4's Loose Ends , and presented the official Big Brother radio show with co-host Gemma Cairney, entitled Big Brother's Big Ears. Lee has also been heard as a continuity announcer on the TV channel Dave. [28]

In August 2007, Lee launched a podcast entitled Iain Lee Presents... Shindiggery. It ended in November 2008. [29]

In 2009, Lee took part in an experimental comedy performance by artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard in Sheffield called Performer. Audience. Fuck Off, [30] a spin-off to the Performer/Audience/Mirror originally conceived in 1975 by American artist Dan Graham, whereby the performer does their act behind a mirror reflecting the audience.

In February 2012, Lee launched The Iain Lee Pocket Radio Show, a podcast similar in style to his radio shows but utilised various social media platforms for content. Most of it featured conversations with listeners via phone calls or Skype chats. Listeners were also invited to interact with the show by sending AudioBoos to be included in the recording. The podcast also included Lee interviewing guests and celebrity news with Elisa Roche.

In 2015, Lee and Glenn Gretlund had formed 7a Records, an independent record label specialising in obscure recordings by The Monkees and the group's members. [31] [32] Lee also had a cameo role in a music video for their self-titled single, released in 2012. [33] In 2020, Lee sold his share of the company. In December 2020 he announced that he has started another record label called Boom Tunes focusing on reissues of 90s dance bands in concert including The Shamen. Lee announced he is working with Mr C from the band on the first release due Feb 2021.

Personal life

In 2001, Lee bought a flat in Muswell Hill, north London. [5]

In March 2018, Lee announced that he and his wife, broadcaster Helena Wilkinson, were getting divorced. The couple have two sons. [34] At the time of the announcement, Lee confessed he had relapsed in drug use after being sober for 13 years, [35] in a three-month period following his stint on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, to which he credited Katherine Boyle in taking him to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. [12] In September 2020, Lee said he had broken a two-and-a-half year period of sobriety when he relapsed on cocaine. [36]

In July 2019, Lee came out as bisexual on his radio show, something that he had felt ashamed and embarrassed about and tried to handle it with drugs and being unfaithful. He credited sessions with a therapist to deal with his longtime suffering of depression, which began when he started having sex with older men at fourteen. He realised that "Now I can see that it was abuse." [34]

In September 2020, Lee started a college course to become a counsellor. [21]


1994The Danny Baker ShowDrummer1 episode
1998–2000 The 11 O'Clock Show Presenter111 episodes
1998, 2000 They Think It's All Over Panellist2 episodes
1999, 2000The Channel 4 Political AwardsReporter2 episodes
1999Faking ItNarrator
1999Comedy CaféGuest2 episodes
1999, 2000 Comedy Lab Presenter2 episodes
2000Thumb Candy: The History of Computer GamesPresenter
2001E For EdgeNarrator
2001 Edinburgh Comedy Awards Presenter
2001 I Love the '80s Guest7 episodes
2001 Liquid News Presenter20 episodes
2001Mental!Presenter16 episodes
2001–2002 Thumb Bandits Presenter13 episodes
2002My Worst WeekPresenter5 episodes
2002, 2008, 2018 The Wright Stuff Guest4 episodes
2002–2003 RI:SE Presenter205 episodes
2003–2004 Flipside TV Presenter
2003Stupid PuntsPanellist1 episode
2003–2009 Big Brother's Little Brother Guest29 episodes
2003 Q Awards Presenter
2004Top BuzzerBooze Delivery Guy1 episode
2004Game StarsPresenter
2004The Simpsons Quiz ShowContestant
2004 The Weakest Link Contestant1 episode
2005 Monkey Trousers Various characters1 episode
2005 FAQ U Panellist2 episodes
2005 8 Out of 10 Cats Panellist2 episodes
2005 Banned in the UK Guest4 episodes
2005 Citizen TV Guest1 episode
2005 How to Start Your Own Country Guest1 episode
2005–2006 Celebrity Soup Presenter33 episodes
2006 Morning Glory Newspaper Reviewer1 episode
2006 Law of the Playground Guest7 episodes
2006TV Now and ThenPanellist1 episode
2006PopcornGuest1 episode
2006 The Race Interviewer7 episodes
2006Frank Sidebottom's Proper Telly ShowGuest1 episode
2006 Celebrity Mastermind Contestant1 episode
2007 How Do They Do It? Narrator20 episodes
2007The Beckhams Go To HollywoodPresenter
2007Wills and Harry Go To VegasPresenter
2007 Tittybangbang Various characters6 episodes
2008The Comedy Map of BritainGuest1 episode
2008 Ready, Steady, Cook Contestant1 episode
2008–2009, 2018 The One Show Reporter10 episodes
2009 Celebrity Juice Panellist1 episode
2009 Big Brother Guest1 episode
2009, 2010, 2014 The Alan Titchmarsh Show Guest3 episodes
2009The All Star Impressions ShowVarious Characters
2010 The Persuasionists Billy Hitchens6 episodes
2010 The Real Hustle Guest1 episode
2010 Come Dine with Me Contestant1 episode
2010–2012 This Morning Newspaper Reviewer42 episodes
2010100 Greatest ToysGuest
2011, 2012 Let's Sing and Dance Performer/Judge2 episodes
2011–2013Sky News: Press PreviewNewspaper Reviewer10 episodes
2011 I'm a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here! NOW! Guest4 episodes
2011–2017 Sky News: Sunrise Newspaper Reviewer67 episodes
2012–2014 Big Brother's Bit on the Side Guest19 episodes
2012 BBC Breakfast Guest1 episode
2013–2014 BBC Inside Out: London Reporter5 episodes
2013–2014 Big Brother's Bit on the Psych Presenter28 episodes
2015–2018...Make You Laugh Out LoudVoiceover32 episodes
2015Celebrity Big Brother: Heroes and VillainsGuest
2015Iain Lee: My MixtapePresenter
2015–2017 Sam Delaney's News Thing Panellist20 episodes
2016 The Saturday Show Guest presenter2 episodes
2016 Pointless Celebrities Contestant1 episode
2016BlinkContestant1 episode
2017The Vintage TV SessionsPresenter1 episode
2017 I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! Contestant20 episodes
2017 I'm a Celebrity: Extra Camp Contestant18 episodes
2017– Lorraine Competition Presenter7 episodes
2017–2018 Loose Women Competition Presenter37 episodes
2017– Good Morning Britain Guest Showbiz Reporter38 episodes
2018 Sunday Brunch Guest1 episode
2018Me and My Mental HealthGuest
2018 Saturday Morning with James Martin Guest1 episode
2018 Celebrity Chase Contestant1 episode
2019Celebrity Game NightPanellist1 episode


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  1. 1 2 "talkRADIO announces presenter line-up and launch date". talkSPORT.
  2. 1 2 Lee, Iain [@iainlee] (10 July 2020). "Here's the exciting press release for #TLNA with me AND @FlippinKath launches July 20th at 9pm" (Tweet). Retrieved 10 July 2020 via Twitter.
  3. "Radio star Iain winning people's hearts". Slough Observer.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Duerden, Nick (29 January 2005). "Iain Lee: Almost famous". The Independent. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  5. 1 2 3 Williams-Akoto, Tessa (5 March 2008). "DJ Iain Lee: A home for everything". The Independent. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  6. 1 2 3 Lee, Iain (22 January 2015). "6 – Chapter 1 : Something On The Horizon". IainLee.com. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  7. 1 2 3 4 "Iain Lee – In Conversation". Beyond the Title. July 2020. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  8. Plunkett, John (6 November 2007). "Lee leaves LBC evening slot". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  9. "mediauk.com/radio/news/125/lbc-97.3". Archived from the original on 6 May 2009.
  10. The Malloys (19 April 2009). "Iain "GENERAL" Lee v Matt "THE PAIN" Early - 28th April 2009" via YouTube.
  11. Plunkett, John (18 October 2011). "Absolute Radio's Iain Lee leaves station" via www.theguardian.com.
  12. 1 2 3 4 Sherwin, Adam (17 July 2020). "Iain Lee talks breakdowns, bust-ups and why he's taking his award-winning radio show to Twitch". iNews. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  13. "Iain Lee departs BBC WM 95.6 after mix-up". RadioToday.co.uk . August 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  14. Rabbit Hole TV (14 May 2014). Iain Lee 3 Counties Radio Breakfast Show wins Gold at the Radio Academy Awards 2014 (Television production). Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  15. 1 2 "BBC apologises for Iain Lee's 'go and do the black and Asian show' comment". The Guardian. 12 August 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
  16. "Iain Lee departs BBC Three Counties Radio". RadioToday.co.uk . 14 November 2015.
  17. "Audio Radio Industry Awards 2017 – winners". RadioToday.co.uk . Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  18. "Iain Lee intervenes to help Plymouth overdose man". BBC News. 20 December 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  19. "Greg James and Dotty win big at 'radio Oscars'". BBC News. 5 March 2020. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  20. "Iain Lee announces departure from talkRADIO after 4 years". RadioToday. 2 June 2020.
  21. 1 2 Smith, Gwendolyn (14 July 2020). "Iain Lee and Katherine Boyle: 'Women are normally sidekicks on the radio'". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  22. "Channel 4 rapped over Dando". BBC. 27 January 2000. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
  23. Fitzpatrick, Katie (28 November 2017). "I'm A Celebrity stars open up about depression and suicidal thoughts". men.
  24. Agius, Nicola (22 December 2017). "Richard Arnold taking a break from Good Morning Britain: "I'm disappearing for a while"". DigitalSpy. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  25. Moir, Sophia (22 December 2017). "I'm A Celebrity's Iain Lee lands a job as showbiz reporter on GMB". Metro . Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  26. Lee, Iain. "Console Wars: Iain Lee takes sides". MSN Tech and Gadgets UK . Archived from the original on 27 March 2008. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  27. Stuart, Keith (18 March 2008). "Games don't make good TV, says ex-videogame TV show presenter". The Guardian . London. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  28. Butler, Robert (27 October 2009). Behind the scenes at Dave with Iain Lee (Documentary). Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  29. "Iain Lee Presents...Shindiggery". Archived from the original on 20 December 2008.
  30. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 May 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. Joe Marchese. "I'm A Believer: Micky Dolenz's Rare MGM Singles Arriving on Deluxe Reissue - The Second Disc". The Second Disc.
  32. "I'm a Believer: 7a Brings Micky Dolenz Concert with Orchestra to CD and Vinyl". theseconddisc.com.
  33. the British IBM (17 July 2012). the British IBM - the British IBM (Music video). Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  34. 1 2 Speare-Cole, Rebecca (4 July 2019). "TalkRadio presenter Iain Lee reveals he is 'bisexual' and says he had sex with older men from the age of 14". Evening Standard. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  35. Baillie, Katie (4 March 2018). "Iain Lee reveals he's divorcing his wife as he battles against 'obsessing about drugs'". Metro. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  36. Smith, Ellen (5 October 2020). "I'm a Celebrity star Iain Lee reveals drug relapse". FM 104. Retrieved 12 October 2020.