The bestselling author talks about his mission to slim down, his hatred of snobbery and who is going to win Britain’s next election
Bestselling English novelist, life peer, convicted criminal, and former politician, Jeffrey Archer’s works have been translated into over 47 languages, with combined sales of more than 320 million copies.
What’s your earliest memory?
The death of King George VI.
When and where were you happiest?
Watching Somerset play cricket. When I was a young man, the only way I could see the matches at Clarence Park in Weston-super-Mare was to sell programmes around the grounds and that gave me my first love of cricket.
What’s your least, and your most, attractive trait?
Impatience. I always want something done immediately, I can never wait. Generosity. My hobby is charity auctioneering and I have over the last 40 years done over a thousand charity auctions and raised over £50m. That’s my hobby and I love it.
What trait do you deplore most in others?
Snobbery. I hate entitlement. I hate people who think because they went to a certain school or university and because their parents are either wealthy or what we used to call when I was a kid, aristocrats, they think they are automatically special. They are not.
What’s the first thing you’d do if you were prime minister?
Resign — I’m 82 years old.
Who will win the next election in Britain?
Labour. I think there comes a point in every cycle when people are fed up with the party in power. If we (Conservative party) complete two more years, we’ll have done 14 years and I think, understandably, the nation will say ‘let’s give the other side a chance’, and Sir Keir Starmer (leader of the UK Labour party) isn’t that bad.
Who would you most like to go for a pint with?
Barry Humphries. He’s an old friend and amongst the best company I know. He is a man with a superior brain. There is no subject on which he doesn’t know a lot more than I do and I learn from him all the time.
Which fictional character do you most identify with?
Secret agent Richard Hannay.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Chocolate. I’m not allowed it at the moment because I’m slimming. I’ve lost 18lbs in the last three months so the one thing I haven’t had is chocolate.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
When did you last cry, and why?
Facing a crowd of 7,500 in Jaipur. I went there in 2019 to speak at a festival. In India, I regularly draw a thousand people but I didn’t expect to see 7,500 people waiting for me. It was like being a pop star. In fact, I burst into tears and then got on with it but yes, it is a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Who would play you in a film of your life?
Anthony Hopkins. We are the same age. We’ve known each other for many years. I’m a huge admirer. I think he’s probably England’s greatest actor.
Do you believe in a god and is there life after death?
I worry about it. I think about it but I remain unconvinced.
What’s your favourite word?
What’s the last TV show you binge-watched?
The Newsreader. It’s wonderful. The acting is quite outstanding and I rationed myself to one a night. I was enjoying it so much.
Art. I have over 200 pictures.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?
Petrol pump attendant aged 17. I lived off the tips.
The book you wish you had written?
Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig.
The book you couldn’t finish?
War and Peace.
What figure from history would you like to have met?
Thomas Jefferson. Well he’s the ultimate polymath man, isn’t he? When dining with eight Nobel prize winners at the White House, President Kennedy said this is the greatest gathering of intellects since Jefferson dined alone. Jefferson’s a class animal and how the Americans have come down to Trump and Biden when they had the likes of Adams, Jefferson and Lincoln is beyond me.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
Sinatra’s One For My Baby. It’s a masterpiece.
Jeffrey Archer’s new novel ‘Next in Line’ is published by HarperCollins