Lord Micheal Dobbs of Wylye describes himself as never having had “a proper job” perhaps he’s spent too much of his life hanging around all the wrong places at interesting times. He was with Margaret Thatcher when she took her first steps into Downing Street as Prime Minister, and he was there again with John Major when he was kicked out. In between he got bombed in Brighton and banished from Chequers (after a row with Maggie), and helped win a few elections. In the quieter moments wrote a book called ‘House of Cards’. As former Prime Minister John Major once said, it had done for his job “what Dracula has done for baby sitting”.
In his restless search for a proper job, he’s also been Deputy Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, a TV presenter and newspaper columnist, and widely acclaimed speaker.
Yet it’s as an author that he has gained most plaudits. After creating the iconic figure of Francis Urquhart, played by Ian Richardson in the BBC TV Series in the early nineties. He went on to write a series of novels about Winston Churchill that had the critics falling over themselves in praise. Now he’s created the most dangerous character of his career, Harry Jones. As the Financial Times said, “think Die Hard with a stiff upper lip.”
He also has many years of experience in the United States, with a doctorate from Harvard and Tufts universities. He also worked on the Boston Globe throughout the Watergate scandal and the end of the Vietnam War, and put together the Globe’s front page on the night that President Nixon resigned. ‘The rest of the newsroom was drinking champagne while I was sweating over the American Constitution. I never got to find out whether they were celebrating or drowning their sorrows.‘
He has extensive speaking experience in the United States, and has undertaken two sponsored tours for the English-Speaking Union on the East Coast and through the Mid West. The E-SU described his tours as ‘a triumph’, while the Churchill Society sponsored him on a nationwide tour in 2008.
House of Cards is one of PBS’s all-time most requested TV series and his Churchill novels have been best-sellers there. He has undertaken many speaking tours, his most recent being described as ‘a coast-to-coast triumph’. He also shared a girlfriend with Bill Clinton when they were both students at Oxford. ‘For some reason she never introduced us,’ he says. ‘It took me many years and an entire presidential scandal to discover why.’
He is a highly skilled raconteur and is much in demand for corporate and literary events. He has also helped raise tens of thousands of pounds for charities in recent years. One newspaper described Dobbs as “Westminster’s baby-faced hit man.” Another said he was “a man who, in Latin America, would have been shot.” A third wrote that “he was clearly put on this earth to write thrillers of the most shameless page-turning quality.”
Well, they might say that. Michael Dobbs couldn’t possibly comment.
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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