From fighting cancer to Come Dine with Me

Kirkhill resident Glen MacDonald will appear on todays episode of Channel 4s Come Dine with Me. Picture by Jane Coltman.
Kirkhill resident Glen MacDonald will appear on todays episode of Channel 4s Come Dine with Me. Picture by Jane Coltman.

After fighting against cancer twice in a year and going on a training programme that saw him shed half his body weight, a Morpeth resident was not fazed at the prospect of preparing a three-course meal as a contestant on a popular television show.

Glen MacDonald will appear on today’s episode of Channel 4’s Come Dine with Me. The light-hearted programme sees four people take it in turns to host a dinner party for the other contestants.

Each competitor then rates the host’s performance and the person with the highest score at the end receives a £1,000 cash prize.

Also appearing on this episode is Charity, a nurse who was born in Nigeria and described in the episode guide as ‘larger-than-life’, Craig, a voice-over artist who moved to the North East from Doncaster, and Sanila, an actor, public speaker and presenter on Tyneside radio station Spice FM.

Glen initially applied when he saw a Facebook post asking for people in the region to get in touch and after being short-listed, the dad-of-three said he impressed the producers of the show with his straight-talking and being comfortable in front of a camera.

The episode, which was filmed last summer, starts at 5pm.

The Network Rail team leader for an overhead line department, based in Morpeth, said: “I’ve watched Come Dine with Me quite a few times and thought ‘I could do that so why not apply for the show?’

“I’m glad I did because it felt great to be selected and the experience was excellent.

“They wanted my dinner party to be something I would do for a lads’ night and I dubbed it ‘canny scran from a man’. My main course was slow cooked beef with home-made gravy and fresh bread to make your own sandwiches.

“I mention that I’m born and bred in Morpeth and I’m proud to help put the town on the map. I described my brownie dessert as muckle bari and I served a beer from the Great North Eastern Brewing Co Ltd – Dave’s The Gentleman’s Barber’s owner David Harrison is one of the company’s investors.

“I got on really well with Charity and enjoyed some banter with Craig as our dress senses are very different.”

The picture was much bleaker for Glen in early 2015 when he felt strong pain in his testicles.

He was given antibiotics after an initial assessment, but the pain still remained and after undergoing tests at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, he was told that he had a two centimetre tumour and would need an operation to remove a testicle.

It seemed his nightmare was over when he later got the all-clear. However, he returned to hospital in September of the same year suffering from bad heartburn.

A CT scan revealed the cancer had spread to his stomach.

Glen said: “I was told I had four tumours and I needed to have 20 sessions of what is known as dog-leg radiotherapy.

“I had to put a brave face on for the sake of my kids and when my youngest daughter asked me why I was going to hospital so much, I told her I was a superhero who needed laser therapy to help fight crime with Batman.

“It was extremely tough, but somehow I got through it and it was amazing when I was told in March that not only I had been given the all-clear, the radiotherapy had totally cleared my stomach out of anything cancerous.

“I still need to go to hospital every few months as I’m on a 10-year surveillance programme.

“I had fantastic support from family and friends. You really know who your friends are during such difficult times and Ryan Henderson and Peter Farrier, in particular, helped to pull me through.”

Glen offered to donate a kidney to his ill father five years ago, but at 24 stone he was too heavy to have the operation.

He started a wight loss regime, but when he got down to the required 18 stone, his father was not well enough to have the transplant and he died soon after from a heart attack.

The Kirkhill resident decided to continue with his strict diet, which included no alcohol, and training and he reduced his weight to 12 stone.

You will also be able to see Glen on the Channel 4 programme The Question Jury in April.

He was the only person chosen out of 100 who auditioned in Newcastle.

The show consists of seven ‘jurors’ and they take it in turns to answer questions unanimously – each contestant is the foreman for one of the questions. Each correct answer adds money to the prize fund.

The person who is chosen to be foreman for the final question in the vote among the jurors will win the cash prize if the group answers it correctly.