The cooks, the thief taker, the Olympians & the survivor

‘Tis the season to look back, apparently, so I’ve been looking back on some of the interviews I’ve done this year for the Sunday Telegraph. They include the cooks Clarissa Dickson-Wright and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall neither of whom cooked me anything, unfortunately. A nice piece of cake was offered by Cormac Murphy O’Connor, former Archbishop of Westminster. The former head of the Metropolitan Police Lord Stevens handed me a piece of paper with some stunning statistics about low morale in the ranks. The Olympics and Paralympics were a source of closure after 7/7 for the Games Maker Dr Andrew Hartle. On the other hand, Rebecca Adlington seemed glad it was all over. The Olympic closing ceremony was organised by Es Devlin and Kim Gavin. It featured Ray Davies of the Kinks. The architect Zaha Hadid designed the Aquatics Centre but told me she hadn’t been offered a single ticket. Talking of generosity, Joan Bakewell said she would not be leaving any of her money to her children. But for me, the most stunning interview of the year so far was with Juliana Buhring who survived the Children of God and is now in the final stages of attempting to become the first woman to cycle solo around the world.

‘I’m a bit star-struck by The Doctor myself’ Matt Smith

Oh, I was hopelessly, fanboyishly excited about this one. The Doctor! It wasn’t about meeting Matt Smith, the latest and youngest actor to play the Time Lord … it was the potency of the character, a hero since childhood. Took me right back to meeting Tom Baker at a carnival as a boy, and giving him my cap gun. Smith knew exactly what I meant. “I’m a bit star-struck by The Doctor myself,” he said when we met at an office in Soho. “I mean, if only he was real …” Smith was wearing a woolly hat in the summer, a Pink Floyd t-shirt and a crumpled denim shirt. He was also eating an egg bagel, messily. But then he took a sip of tea, paused and said, “Ah. That’s better. Makes the morning more … plausible.” And I knew I was in the presence of The Doctor. So, obviously, we talked about sex … Read the rest here.

‘She thought I was another mindless, pretty idiot’ Professor Brian Cox

Scientists shouldn’t look like this. They should have wild hair like Einstein or wild eyes like Patrick Moore, not amble into the room looking as if they’ve just come off stage at Glastonbury. But this is Professor Brian Cox, known as the ‘rock-star scientist’ and described by People magazine as the World’s Sexiest Quantum Physicist, a title that makes him sigh. ‘They were doing an  A to Z of desirable people and needed to put someone in the Q category. Who else could it be?’  Continue reading “‘She thought I was another mindless, pretty idiot’ Professor Brian Cox”

‘If we go into a ditch, we won’t walk out alive’ Chris Evans

‘Shall we take out the Testarossa?’ The offer was hard to refuse. The world’s most expensive Ferrari was away, but Chris Evans did have a white-and-blue 1957 250 GTO to play with. It’s a replica, ‘only’ worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, but it still felt like sitting on a rocket. We eased out onto the Surrey roads, then Evans floored the accelerator with a happy cackle and the rocket took off, roaring past a family saloon, down a long straight and then into the next bend on a racing line.

‘If you go into a ditch on these roads you’re probably not going to walk away, to be honest,’ said Evans. ‘I did this with (a famous comedian who had better remain nameless) the other day and he was screaming, “Don’t kill me!”’ It wasn’t hard to see why …

Read the rest of this piece here.