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“A lot of television stuff I just did for the money… I wish I hadn’t”: Life according to Christopher Biggins

Christopher Biggins
Christopher Biggins

We caught up with King of the Jungle Christopher Biggins as he heads to the Edinburgh Fringe.

What was the inspiration for your Fringe show?

I was up at the Fringe last year and saw Gyles Brandreth, Nicholas Parson and some other good things. I thought I wouldn’t mind doing it, talked to some people and that’s just how it came about.

What will people see?

I’ll have two people from the festival and one local figure each day. It’s a bit of a natter with some stuff given away and that suits me perfectly.

It’s your Fringe debut but do your Edinburgh connections go back a while?

Just a bit. I did two plays about 40 years ago and I’ve loved it since. I think it’s extraordinary that every single corner of a city like Edinburgh is taken over.

What else do you have on?

Loads. Lots of presenting, appearances, it’s really busy. The nice thing about being older is you can pick and choose and turn things down. When you’re younger you have to do things to pay the bills. But there’s a limit to how many toasters you need at home.

What have you done in the past you’d have turned down now?

Oh, lots of things. There was a lot of television stuff I just did for the money, I’m ashamed to say, and I wish I hadn’t.

What are your hobbies?

Travel and collecting art. I started collecting 50 years ago and I should do more but I forget to go to exhibitions. I’ve got paintings, sculptures, bronzes. I’ve got a wonderful painting I bought when I was performing up in Edinburgh. It’s big – about six foot tall and three foot wide – and one selling point was I knew I could get it sent back with the scenery from the show as I’d never get it on the train.

And what about travelling?

The past four years I’ve been to Sri Lanka and the terror attacks will devastate the tourism industry. But the country and the people are so lovely, it won’t keep me away.

What makes you mad?

Drivers. I’ve got an electric car because I don’t do long-distance driving any more. I wouldn’t care if I never saw the M1 again. I find it hideous. But in London people take advantage. They rush around ignoring the 20mph limits and it drives me mad.

What would be your number one career highlight?

Winning I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!. I was in for three weeks with no idea of how you’re being perceived. To come out and find out the nation has voted for you as King of the Jungle was extraordinary. I’m still living off of it now.

Late Lunch with Biggins is at the Pleasance Dome in Edinburgh from Wednesday.