What would you describe as your career highlight to date?
The highlight of my career undoubtedly has come from my 'second' career. I started, extremely nervously, to play my one-man show on the stage in September 2001. Perhaps it went a little bit better than I thought because in 2009 when I was seventy, I was asked to do a celebratory show at the Royal Albert Hall. What an incredible honour that was. We had a good crowd and friends like Sir Tom Courtney, Stephen Fry, John Bly and several others came along and said nice things about me in the second half in front of a good crowd. I did the first half of the show on my own and got about four and a half or maybe five (just!) out of ten. The Albert Hall itself was awe-inspiring and to step out onto a stage where all those great conductors have strutted their stuff was unbelievable and rather frightening. There was a great postscript to it all. I had just met Valeria, my third wife, before the show which was held on 30th May, six months before my actual birthday. The day we met I was able to use one of the great lines of all time. I said to her, "You must come and see me at the Albert Hall". She left that first meeting thinking I must be a conductor, but she still came!
who would your ideal dinner guests be?
The legacy of the great Brian Johnston still lingers. Legs are pulled, bloomers are made, especially by me, Vic Marks Noel Coward, whom I was lucky enough to meet, David Niven, Ingrid Bergmann, whose films used to fire me up all those years ago, Arthur Mailey, the famous Australian leg spinner in the twenties who was such a brilliant caricaturist, and my wife, Valeria, the most wonderful woman I have ever met. Bud Flanagan, from the immortal Crazy Gang would also be there with his Cockney humour. My final choice would be Dame Maggie Smith who I am sure would keep us all in stitches - if Noel let any of us get a word in edgeways.
your own books are unfailingly entertaining, do you have a favourite author?
P.G. Wodehouse by a country mile. The Blandings Saga leads my list with Psmith coming second just fractionally ahead of Jeeves and Wooster.
what advice would you go back and give yourself at the age of 25?
Learn by heart the years which produced the best vintage wines in the leading wine countries of the world and invest in a good corkscrew. And, don't be afraid of taking a risk for fortune seldom favours the feint-hearted. Oh yes, and always be yourself.
You are known for sporting a natty bow tie at every possible opportunity, how many do you own in total?
Sixty-three at the last count. They wear out quicker than ordinary ties and so I am always having to replenish my stock even though nowadays I wear a tie much less often than I once did.
in the course of a long career as a commentator, do you have a favourite on-air blunder?
There was a bad/hysterical moment in a Test Match against India at Lord's in 1990. Graham Gooch was out in England's first innings for a small matter of 333. I was on the air when he was out and said, in my most Churchillian voice, as he walked back to the Pavilion, " Never before, in the history of this great ground of ours, has a cloud crapped like this one".
What is your top cricketing moment from the last twenty years?
When I returned to the TMS Commentary box for the first Test against New Zealand at Edgbaston in July 1999. In April, a week after returning from New Zealand, I had had a heart bypass operation which, for whatever reason, didn't quite work out as it should have done and I think My Maker must have had a good look at me before he decided to throw me back into the pool of life. It was a damned close run thing. My joy at just being at Edgbaston was colossal and I shall never forget it.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
I spent most of the first seventeen years of my life wanting to do nothing but play cricket. Then, after bicycling into a moving
bus in June 1957 and spending quite a while unconscious, I only knew what I didn't want to do which was to work in the world of finance in the City of London. I did just that from 1959 to 1962. It was a bad and boring time before in 1962, thanks to Johnnyxc Woodcock, the famous Times Cricket Correspondent, I began to write about cricket for no less an organ than The Times. Then I knew what I wanted to do and the world I wanted to be in.