The Spectator

‘I was very naughty when young’: Michael Winner dies aged 77

Journalist and film director Michael Winner passed away today aged 77. He was a popular diarist in the pages of The Spectator, with his most recent offering appearing in January 2010. In that column, he described the filming of his TV series ‘Michael Winner’s Dining Stars’, and mused about what might happen if it flopped:

There’s a nasty Hollywood crew saying about artistes: ‘Bring on da puppets.’ That was largely the attitude of the production team. I’d have fired most of them. I know I’m not Leonardo di Caprio, Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep or anyone near the top of the star tree. But courtesy would have been appreciated. It was a great experience regardless. I loved the warmth, consideration, and sometimes confrontation, from people who hosted me for dinner. I adored meeting people on the streets, not as a professional smiler, but as me. Mr Walton may not be a genius at organisation but he’s a particularly nice person with a great sense of humour. At an early meeting he asked one of the most intelligent questions put to me in 60 years in the entertainment industry. He said, ‘What do you want to get out of this, Mr Winner?’ I answered ‘Fun. Fun for me, fun for the audience, fun for everyone involved.’ It was fun. I hope you find it so when it reaches your TV in February. Think: if it’s a success I can be a monster. If it fails I’ll go back to being a bum. No problem there. I’m used to it.

In 2008 he told readers about his least successful book signing:

Being not so much an A-list celebrity, more a Z-list celebrity, turning up for book signings is a hit-and-miss affair.

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