March 28, 2014 7:45 pm

The Inventory: Charlie Higson

‘Writing is my job. It’s not about sitting around waiting for the muse to strike,’ says the actor/writer
Charlie Higson©Charlie Hopkinson

Charlie Higson, 55, is an author, actor, comedian and writer for television and radio. His work includes the TV comedy The Fast Show and the Young Bond series of books for teenagers.

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What was your earliest ambition?

To be James Bond. I’ve had to accept that’s not going to happen.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

Sevenoaks School in Kent, a very progressive public school. I got in on a scholarship. I studied English and American literature and film at the University of East Anglia.

Who was or still is your mentor?

A brilliant art teacher called Bob White. Later, the producer Geoffrey Perkins, a good script editor and a great person to talk about ideas to. I miss having him to go to.

Sean Connery as James Bond©Alamy

Earliest ambition: to be James Bond

How physically fit are you?

We have a very tall, thin house with lots of stairs. I’ve got quite a lot of stamina and a good pair of legs. A couple of years ago I took up running. Everybody says it’s great – after a while it becomes like a drug – but I’m still looking for any excuse not to run.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Talent.

How politically committed are you?

I would describe myself as a committed liberal. I know some people find liberals infuriating but I can’t help it.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

I don’t obsess over it. I do what I can but change has to come from the top, not the bottom.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

I’ve probably done one out of a book.

Do you have more than one home?

Yes. A house in London and a house in Italy.

If you had a coat of arms, what would be on it?

Charlie Higson's imaginary coat of arms

Things I like. Beer. Barbecues. Bond. Biros. The four Bs of life.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

The house in Italy. Owning one house is a huge extravagance: two is ludicrous.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

A larger waste bin in my office. The one I’ve got is really not sufficient.

In what place are you happiest?

My house abroad, which is probably why I’m happy to spend the money on it.

What ambitions do you still have?

To direct a film. There is still something big, glamorous and exciting about cinema.

What drives you on?

Deadlines. I’m a professional writer, it’s my job. It’s not about sitting around waiting for the muse to strike. The desire to make a mark on the world, I suppose. And you always think the next book has to be better than the last one.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

Making The Fast Show in the 1990s was incredibly rewarding. Since then, I’ve had a new career as a children’s author. In any field you usually have one big success and then you move on. It was great to be able to do it again in a different field.

Director's chair©Dreamstime

Future ambition: to direct a film

What has been your greatest disappointment?

I did a TV series, Bellamy’s People, and felt at the time it was some of the best stuff I’d done for TV but the BBC decided not to make any more.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

“Well done.” I’ve had a life doing what I’ve wanted to do. He’d think I’d got way too fat, though.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

You hope you would be as strong as Jeffrey Archer: pick yourself up, sit down and write a bestseller.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

Yes.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

 

No.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

Nine.

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‘The Fallen’ is the fifth book in Charlie Higson’s series ‘The Enemy’. It is published in paperback by Penguin Books, £7.99

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