How Sue Lawley made a splash in literature before moving on to TV

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The Independent Culture

When asked for a defining childhood memory most celebrities would probably choose something to show them in a charming light. Not, however, the intrepid Sue Lawley.

When asked for a defining childhood memory most celebrities would probably choose something to show them in a charming light. Not, however, the intrepid Sue Lawley.

While Tony Blair recalled Christmas in Australia and Carol Smillie hinted she was always destined for television makeover programmes by screaming at nasty wallpaper while only a baby, Ms Lawley showed no fear of ridicule. The woman who has interviewed some of the most famous names in the world recalled, with admirable candour, the time she simply had to go.

At the tender age of six in the local public library, Ms Lawley remembered: "I sat on an orange-varnished wooden chair alongside the books-for-boys shelf and just let go. I remember the enormously pleasurable feeling as my bladder emptied, the warmth that enveloped my bottom half, followed by a splattering noise. I looked down and there beneath the chair, slowly covering a larger and larger area, was a glistening pool of liquid."

Ms Lawley and Ms Smillie are among more than 100 celebrities featured in a new book to raise money for Children in Need. Henry Buckton, the author, said: "There are some very funny stories in there and some very sad ones too. But many of them give lots of clues as to what these children were to become."

Jonathan Dimbleby recalled an incident that showed his brother had a lot to learn before he would become the presenter of Question Time. He said that when he was 10, the Australian entertainer Anona Winn had visited the family for dinner.

"I thought I should say something or it would seem rude so I said 'Isn't Australia where all the convicts went? Are you from a convict family?' Anona Winn turned on me, flushed with anger, and said 'You stupid little boy. You should think before you talk such nonsense.' I turned away and my father looked embarrassed, but my brother David, who was 16, shouted: 'You're the silly one. How dare you talk to my brother like that? And he's right, anyway'."

Celebrity Snapshots, which also includes anecdotes from the late Sir John Gielgud, Tony Benn and Sir Alex Ferguson, costs £4, £2 of which goes to Children in Need. It can be ordered from any Ottakers book store.

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