THE DEFINITE ARTICLE
We ask former Saint Ian Ogilvy a set of devilishly probing questions – and only accept THE definitive answer
The prized possession you value
above all others… My Honda Valkyrie motorbike. I’m 73 now and my wife Kitty says I’m a bit old for it, but I love it to death. We live in LA and I enjoy riding it up to the Hollywood sign.
The biggest regret you wish you
could amend… Spending too freely when I was younger. I got into terrible debt.
The book that holds an everlasting
resonance… Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake. I read it aged 19 and I was mesmerised by its language. It sowed the seed in me to want to write and I’ve published several books, from novels to children’s stories.
The priority activity if you were the Invisible Man for a day… I’d go to the American National Rifle Association headquarters in Virginia and wreck all their guns and computers.
The unending quest that
drives you on… To prove that all psychics are frauds and ghosts don’t exist.
The pet hate that makes your
hackles rise... Religious fundamentalism – it makes me very angry. The temptation you wish you could resist… Playing video games. The treasured item you lost and wish you could have again… My waistline. I was very slim when I Above: Gene Kelly in Singin’ In The Rain. Top right: Ian in Return Of The Saint. Right: the Great Barrier Reef was young; probably a 28in waist. Now I’m 38in.
The person who has influenced you
most… My aunt Betty, who forged documents for British agents during the war. She taught me if something’s beyond your control, don’t waste time worrying about it.
The film that you can watch time and
time again… Singin’ In The Rain. I’m musically illiterate so it’s an odd choice, but it’s so charming you simply can’t watch it and feel miserable. The piece of wisdom you would pass on to a child… Don’t believe your adoring grandmother’s compliments. They’re all lies! The figure from history for whom you’d most like to buy a pint… Oscar Wilde. He was so funny, intelligent and a great storyteller. The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it… I’d empty the bank accounts of all the vile TV evangelists across America and return the money to their gullible donors.
The unlikely interest that engages
your curiosity… Knives. I’ll happily watch shows about them on US TV. My wife thinks I’m crazy. The poem that touches your soul… The Life That I Have by Leo Marks. It’s just a lovely, simple poem which we had read at our wedding in 1992.
The misapprehension about yourself you wish you could erase... I was mistaken for Christopher Biggins in London a few years back. I signed an autograph but the man looked at it and said: ‘Oh. I thought you were Christopher Biggins.’
The event that altered the course of
your life and character… Moving to America in 1989. I was 46 and at the time I was very famous through The Saint, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. Going to the US gave me a fresh start – and I met my wife over here. The song that means most to you… It may sound odd, but I don’t have one because music means nothing to me. The way you would spend your fantasy 24 hours, with no travel restrictions... The day would begin with Kitty at lunchtime with a sunny walk in the Oxfordshire countryside. My son Titus, 47, lives there with my grandchildren Barnaby, 17, and Matilda, 14. We’ll also be joined by my stepdaughter Emma, 53, and her daughter Lulabelle, two. We’d have a long, lazy lunch at The Five Horseshoes pub in Henley. I’d have a pint or two of a great local ale. In the evening, Kitty and I would see a brilliantly funny play in the West End with all my friends in it, then we’d all celebrate at Joe Allen restaurant in Covent Garden. I’d have a steak with more beer. The next morning would begin with coffee in St Mark’s Square, Venice, continue with a few scuba dives over the Great Barrier Reef and end recovering in Paris. The happiest moment you will cherish forever… The day the crew started calling me ‘Guvnor’ while I was shooting Return Of The Saint in 1978. It meant that they’d accepted me after Roger Moore.
The saddest time that shook your
world… The death of my older sister Kerry from a brain tumour when she was 49. The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you… To do a freefall parachute jump.
The philosophy that underpins your
life… I like Voltaire’s line from Candide about ‘tending one’s own garden’. If everyone looks after their little part of the world, everything will be OK. The order of service at your funeral… There’ll be no funeral – I find them vile. Just flush my ashes down the loo. The way you want to be remembered… As surprising. I don’t think I have been, so it’d be nice if others thought I had.
The Plug… Ian’s new film We Still Steal The Old Way is released on digital download on April 10 and on DVD and Blu-ray on April 17. His memoir Once A Saint is out now. As told to Rob McGibbon
‘I was slim when I was young, a 28in waist, now I’m 38in. I was mistaken for Christopher Biggins a few years back’