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How darts legend Andy Fordham stole the public’s heart on Celebrity Fit Club

Andy Fordham was a Titan of the darts world, his natural ability and charming personality winning viewers over each championship.

Sadly, the sporting legend died aged 59 with his wife, Jenny, by his side, on July 15, inspiring tributes and memorials up and down the country.

While Andy is best known for his spectacular sporting ability, he reached a whole new audience with his 2004 appearance on Celebrity Fit Club.

Producers contacted him to take part in the programme, which saw Dr Adam Carey and personal trainer Harvey Walden guide him towards a healthier lifestyle.

When Andy appeared on the show, he weighed over 30 stone and would typically drink a crate of beer each day out of habit.

Throughout his time on the series, he won over the heart of the nation with his progress, managing to lose a total of three stone in a matter of weeks, through hard work and dedication.

Initially, he struggled to shift the weight, losing just half a pound in his first week as he came to grips with the lifestyle transformation.

Near the end of his time with the expert coaches, however, he had a completely different outlook on life, vowing to devote himself to fitness.

"I was a bit wary when the show first got in touch," he told People.

"It took a while to get my head round the idea that if I didn't sort my weight out I could die. But it did me a favour."

Even in his last weigh-in, which followed a stag-do in Tenerife, Andy impressed his co-stars by proving he hadn’t resorted to old habits.

Each hoping for a lifestyle change, he appeared on the show alongside fellow stars Julie Goodyear, of Corrie fame, soul singer Kim Mazelle, and Wife Swap star Lizzy Bardsley.

Prior to his stint on Celebrity Fit Club, Andy was open about his unhealthy lifestyle, which spiralled out of control when he opened his own pub.

Nicknamed the "whippet” due to his slim frame as a teen, he eventually made a habit of snacking on fast food and downing beers thanks to the busy hours of the pub.

When it came to darts tournaments, Andy believed he needed Dutch courage to make it through the matches, sinking pints and eating steak and kidney pies before taking aim at the dartboard.

In 2005, he told The Telegraph: "Before a match I like to relax with 25 bottles of Holsten Pils and six steak n' kidney pies."

Recalling his first match, he added: "I was really scared. So before my first game I drunk shed loads and the worst thing that could’ve happened, happened: it worked.

"And from then on, I felt I had to do it again. It helped the concentration, numbed everything, you weren't aware of what was going on behind you, you could just concentrate on what was in front of you, the board.”

A bout of ill health in 2004 made him realise he needed a reset, and soon the Celebrity Fit Club coaches came calling.

Though Andy regretted taking part in subsequent reality TV gigs, he felt positively about his time on the fitness-oriented show, crediting the series with turning his life around.

"In a way that did me good because I didn't realise how big I was,” he told The Guardian in 2007.

"I went to see the doctor before the show and the scale wouldn't go up to my weight.

"He estimated I was about 25 stone. But when I stood on this giant set of scales on the show and he said '30 stone' I couldn't believe it. Since then I've got tired of all the comments because people can be quite rude."

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