How We Met: Jamie Theakston & Jonathan Yeo

'He was there when I met my wife; he had to look after Madonna while I chatted up Sophie'

Jonathan Yeo, 40, is a British artist best known for his portraits of the rich and famous, from Tony Blair to Dennis Hopper. More recently, he branched out into collages, generating headlines in 2008 with his depiction of George Bush, fashioned from pornographic magazine cuttings. He lives in west London with his wife and two children.

I remember meeting Jamie at the wedding of a friend of ours, [the author] Imogen Edwards-Jones, in around 1998 or 1999. Imogen invited everyone to Italy for a long weekend, and it was a nice excuse for a four-day booze up. Jamie and I met on the first day and were inseparable. Coming from the art world, I had a view that people in TV were prima donnas – and while he can be a bit of a prima donna, he also struck me as very normal and really quite funny too.

After that, we'd meet a lot in Soho. I had a studio there above a Marco Pierre White restaurant, where Marco would allow me to eat for free. Jamie was often in the area working, so he and one or two others would regularly visit and we'd go for lunches that would run into dinner.

Then, for our 30th birthdays, we had a joint party. It was a bit of a riot: Jamie had some brilliant party-organiser friends who managed to get sponsorship for it, so we didn't have to pay for however many hundreds bottles of vodka we got through – just the damage to the restaurant!

We've been through so much together – I was with him when he met his wife, and we were each other's best man. He was brilliant at mine, and did a perfect Wogan-esque speech which made everyone laugh.

We used to see each other once a week, but it's a bit less than that now: Jamie's children are very young, and he's also constrained by his job hours. But we still find excuses to go skiing or wine-tasting.

Jamie has a fantastically dry sense of humour. I try not to listen to him on the radio: he sounds so professional and oddly restrained, and it's strange hearing him being polite and not telling filthy jokes.

He is also much more creative than people might expect, and has a real eye for interior design. He spends far too many hours searching eBay for obscure Danish furniture from the 1960s. I don't think he'll go so far as to become an interior designer, but he certainly dresses like one.

I admire the fact that Jamie's always worn his [fame] lightly; I've dealt with a lot of people who have a public profile, and you'd be surprised how many feel the need to remind themselves and everyone else how interesting or celebrated their job is, but there's no ego with Jamie. He's just completely comfortable in his own skin.

Jamie Theakston, 40, is a TV and radio presenter. For the past six years, he has co-presented the breakfast show on London's Heart FM. He lives in west London with his wife and two children.

Jonny and I met when our mutual friends got married, in Tuscany, about 12 years ago. I got there the evening before, and it wasn't long before we discovered a shared passion for ropey old bars and it was in one called Route 66 in Cortona [in Arezzo, Italy] that our friendship was forged. We had the same sense of humour and became close very quickly.

Jonny and I are pretty similar, though he's a bit more vain than me – far more, in fact. We see each other every fortnight and we're men of simple pleasures – we go out to eat and drink and we also go away skiing a lot. He's an elegant and fearless skier and has the same approach to it which he did when he was 16, which is to try to look stylish for all the girls, whereas I'm far more terrified and my arms and legs fly all over the place.

Holidays aside, our paths often meet abroad: for several years we spent Oscars week in LA together, because I used to go and present the live coverage for TV, and Jonny would be there painting actors and other LA people. He was out there with me on the first night I met Sophie, my wife: it was at a party, and it was me, her, Jonny and Madonna around the dinner table. He had to look after Madonna while I spent the evening chatting up Sophie.

I'm in awe of him as an artist. I paint like an eight-year-old, so I find it fascinating to visit his studio; what he does is like alchemy. I own quite a few of his pictures and he also painted me a while back – I think I probably encouraged him to do it, because he's essentially quite lazy, so the idea of him doing any more work than he needs to fills him with absolute terror.

Considering he paints world leaders and royalty, it was a real honour, though I'm still not sure where to hang it – there's something a bit embarrassing and egocentric about having a picture of yourself on public display in your house.

Between the ages of 25 and 40 is when most of your important life experiences happen, and I've shared most of them with Jonny – marriages, births and what have you. But he hasn't changed at all: he hasn't aged physically – he will always look about 14 – and he hasn't really matured mentally or emotionally either. I think he's in some sort of arrested development, which is good, as he's the same person I became friends with: brilliant fun and one of those people I've never had a bad time with.

Jonathan Yeo will showing at London's Lazarides Gallery (lazinc.com) and National Portrait Gallery (npg.org.uk) this spring. For more: jonathanyeo.com

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice