A Place in the Sun newcomer Lee Juggurnauth hosts his debut show today (May 10), but he has exclusively told Entertainment Daily that his new role was almost ruined by racist trolls.
Lee said that when Channel 4 made its announcement about his appointment back in March, the reaction was “quite insightful”.
He revealed that 80% of the comments were lovely, but the rest almost “took away from the celebration”.
However, he said advice from a super-famous friend made him want to “look forward” and “focus on the positives”.
What did A Place in the Sun host Lee say about trolls?
Lee revealed: “It’s been quite insightful. I will be honest, when A Place in the Sun made its announcement… Look, I’ve always been active on social media, speaking up for what I believe in.
“Speaking up about racism and diversity, it’s something that’s affected me all my life being a person of colour.
“A good 80% of the people are really nice and positive but you do, I’m not going to lie and say it’s a bed of roses, but since the announcement by Channel 4, I can’t say everything’s been positive.
Read more: Who is Lee Juggurnauth and what did he do before A Place in the Sun?
“There have been a lot of people who have been negative and done the whole trolling thing.
“I don’t like to focus on the negative but it’s important to realise there are keyboard warriors out there and it’s not a nice thing.”
“I technically haven’t even opened my mouth yet, people haven’t seen my show.”
Lee added: “A lot of people were criticising the way that I look, the colour of my skin.
“There’s a big thing about presenters of colour coming up at the moment and getting jobs but there’s a lot of negativity about that and I don’t want it to take away from the importance of the show – it’s escapism which we all need but these negative comments, they do exist.”
He continued: “I’m not going to lie and say it was fine and that I brushed it under the carpet because at one point during the day it did bug me and took away from the celebration.
“But the next day I was just like okay, I’m going to get this, it is what it is.”
Advice from his famous friend
He also revealed advice from pop superstar Lulu – who he has worked with previously – helped get him focused back on the positives.
“I was speaking to Lulu about it, who I used to work with, she’s a great friend.
“She said: ‘You will get this, you cannot read the comments.’
“I’m just trying now to move forward, I just don’t want to focus on the negative,” he said.
Support from A Place in the Sun ‘OG’ Jasmine Harman
A Place in the Sun veteran Jasmine Harman has also been on hand with advice for new boy Lee.
The presenters all met in real life for the first time at the visa office recently.
Lee added: “Jasmine sent me a message when she heard I’d got the job. It was really really nice to hear from Jasmine as this is her baby.
Read more: Jasmine Harman admits she ‘let herself down’ as she gained ‘flab’ in lockdown
“She’s the first presenter on the show, I call her the OG, the original gangster, because she has set the way for all of us.
“Everyone else has been really encouraging. We have a WhatsApp group and they’re all giving me tips, they told me to enjoy it, have fun and not put too much pressure on yourself.”
Lee said his first house hunters on the show were “perfect” – although he admitted that he worried if they would be nice people ahead of meeting them.
“When I first went out there I didn’t know what to expect – it was like my first day at school. You prepare so much but when you’re in that situation it’s completely different,” he said.
“I’m a people person so I was like please God let them be nice and like me.
“There’s also that level of disappointment for them because I’m the new presenter so they don’t know who I am and they’re probably waiting for Jasmine and they’re going to get Lee,” he laughed.
“But it was really nice to spend that time with them, this was a huge deal from them. I hope viewers can see that it’s not just about me being the new presenter.”
Lee takes a liking to A Place in the Sun co-star Danni Menzies
So is the show’s newcomer ready for the attention his debut will doubtless receive? After all, one look on Instagram shows you he isn’t shy about flashing the flesh…
“I don’t know about heart-throb,” he laughed when ED! asked if he’s ready to become a pin-up.
“Do you know what, Instagram isn’t the same as reality. I have modelled in the past but let me tell you confidence wise I’m not the most confident person out there at all.
“It’s only in the last two or three years that I’ve embraced myself a bit more. I grew up not very attractive, overweight, unhealthy.
“Up to two years ago I was that guy by the pool who could not take his top off. I just couldn’t because I was very insecure with my body and who I am.”
It’s one of those things you know where I think your biggest hype man should be your circle or your friends so when I see someone doing something I’m like yeah, go on man.
Lee’s Instagram activity has already hit the headlines in the tabloids, after he liked a picture of fellow A Place in the Sun host Danni Menzies posing in her bikini.
“I did not even realise things like that would get picked up,” he laughed.
“It’s one of those things you know where I think your biggest hype man should be your circle or your friends so when I see someone doing something I’m like yeah, go on man. I’d do it for anyone,” he insisted.
So it was nothing to do with the picture being more than a little, shall we say, cheeky?
“I mean that probably played a big part in it,” he laughed.
So is Lee single or attached?
Asked if he’s seeing anyone, Lee admits: “I am, yes.
“I’ve been seeing this lovely lady for a few months now. It is what it is. I try not to put so much focus on dating but it is what it is.”
His relationship status would explain why he’s a little coy when we ask if he fancies Danni.
“Is this being recorded?!” he giggled nervously.
So is Lee ready for all these probing questions and interest in his relationship from fans?
“I am quite a private person in terms of relationship stuff,” he admitted.
“I think for me I’ve struggled with relationships in the past and it’s something I’ve tried to work on in myself with my mental health.
“I’m 34 years old now and we kind of lost a year in the pandemic and that’s when you figure out if relationships work and what you do and don’t want in life.
“So I am just excited to move forward and this is a big opportunity for me, so my main focus is work at the moment,” he admitted.
How long will he stay on A Place in the Sun?
So, with his first episode airing today, how long does Lee want to stay on the Channel 4 travel show?
“As long as they’ll have me,” he admitted.
“I just want to do a good job for them. I’m in a line-up of some great presenters. I just hope that I can be as good as them.
“Luckily they were very happy with what I’ve done so far so I have been given a contract for the next series.”
However, if a career in TV presenting does go south, Lee admitted: “I’ve got my fingers in a few different pies.
“I’m doing a couple of other TV projects at the moment but this show is my main one – I’m going to give this my all.”
However, he added: “But I am launching a gender neural fashion line at the end of May and we’re going to donate a percentage of the proceeds to Unicef, which is a charity close to my heart.”
Catch Lee’s first A Place in the Sun episode today (May 10) on Channel 4 at 3pm. The series continues weekdays on Channel 4 at 3pm.
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