Money: This is your life savings

My biggest mistake; A teaching aid that flopped cost Michael Aspel pounds 600,000

"I came seriously unstuck about 25 years ago, when I got invited to put some money into a business and was left 18-months later with all the company's debts.

I was invited to do some promotional commentary for a teaching aid system. At that time, I hadn't quite realised how stupid I was where money is concerned. I thought it might be sensible not just to take a fee, but to put some money into it. It looked to me like a promising, futuristic sort of business.

It was a maths programme, a new teaching aid system, where kids had responder units and screens and all that sort of thing. It's been superseded many times since, of course, but it seemed quite a good idea for its time. It was going to be bought by education authorities.

I had it independently assessed by somebody - so I wasn't that daft - and they said: `Yes, this looks like a clean, go-ahead business.' I borrowed some money from the bank, put my fee and all that back into it, but it just didn't take off.

There was no skulduggery involved as far as I know. But the timing was wrong, and various things were supposed to happen that didn't. Sales to the education authorities never quite came through. It was the old cash- flow problem. Nobody actually bought it when we needed to be selling the thing, and it all just fell by the wayside. Then we were going to be bought up.

I think the only time I was poorly treated in it was when the other guy who was left in it with me said we were going to be bought up, but it would require me signing a separate personal guarantee, which is what I did. I think I vaguely understood what signing the guarantee meant, but the information I was given was that we only had a few days before we were going to be taken over, and it would all be plain sailing from then on.

Of course, the sale never happened, the company collapsed and there was no one but me for our suppliers to go to when the crunch came.

I had a cottage in Hereford at that point, which I'd spent the last 18 months having done up, and that coincided - neatly, I suppose - with this drama. The house was finished, I sold it the next day, cleared the debts and never even spent a night in it. It cost me, I suppose, about pounds 620,000, and that was a lot of money 25 years ago. That was a hefty involvement and a very bruising experience.

One of the reasons I bought into this company was that I thought that would be a good idea to see that performing and presenting was not the only thing I relied on. Now I'm happy to say it is. I think it's much nicer to keep it clean, take your fees, pay your tax and don't worry.

As far as my general attitude to finance is concerned, I'm soundly advised, but I tend to forget about it the moment I've done it. I keep getting surprised by little bits of paper that tell me what's been done. Than I have to ask, and I'm told: `Yes, you did that PEP a year ago.'

It isn't because I have so much money that I don't know what to do with it. I wouldn't be surprised if somebody said to me: `Actually, you have none at all,' or that I have a great deal more than I'd ever thought. I don't keep track of it properly, I just make sure that everybody's provided for. If I can afford to take a holiday, I'm very relieved, and that's it.

It sounds like one's being a loveable duffer, who thinks it's attractive to be somebody who doesn't care about money, but that's not the case. I just have a lack of empathy where the stuff is concerned. Most people around me seem to understand money very well, and I admire them for it, but I cannot make my mind work in that way.

For me, it's all down to finding the right accountant, really, and finding people I feel I can have faith in. It took me a long time to do that, because I do need guidance and help and reassurance all the way. But it seems to be all right at the moment."

Michael Aspel was talking to Paul Slade.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
All the signs have been pointing up for buy-to-let, but there are clouds on the horizon

Buy-to-let: is it a boom or a bubble fit to burst?

People borrowing to be landlords could face the same restrictions as homebuyers, with MPs voicing fears that property speculation may be overheating the market

Moment of truth for payday lenders: Watchdog plans to curb cost of short-term loans

The chief of the City watchdog, Martin Wheatley, spoke exclusively to The Independent's Simon Read about its attempts to control the worst excesses of unscrupulous high-cost credit companies

Consumers given power to choose a green deal

How would you like to be able to choose how your electricity is made and even where it come from? It may sound futuristic and fanciful but the independent supplier Co-operative Energy has made it a reality this week.

'Scrap the trap': calls for change grow as banks are told to play fair with loyal savers

City regulator says existing customers suffer worst rates

Motor insurers divided on proposals for whiplash ban

MPs want medical evidence for claims. Will this bring higher premiums?

British Gas repays £1m for mis-sold deals

British Gas was yesterday forced to pay back £1m to its customers after mis-selling them energy deals.

Bare necessities of life cost a pensioner £10,000

Pensioners now have to spend £10,387 a year on basic necessities such as food and fuel. new figures published today reveal.

Six months since its introduction, Obamacare has set market's pulse racing

As America's health reforms take effect, some firms look well placed to benefit, says Simon Read

Holidaymakers warned over hidden charges when opting to pay in sterling abroad

Fresh warnings emerged this week that overseas retailers and hotels aren't playing fair.

Employees will be able to request flexible hours in drive to make workplaces family friendly

From next week employees will be able to request changes to working hours. Rob Griffin weighs up the options

E2Energy's wind-turbine scheme offers green investors 7.5 per cent a year

If you're fed up with paltry returns on your savings and are interested in green energy, a new loan-based crowdfund launched this week could be a better home for your cash.

Why miss the chance of tax-free returns as Isas raise their game?

The tax-free limit of £15,000 is a big jump and rates for savers are starting to edge up, writes Simon Read
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

    £850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

    Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Finance Manager - Bank - Leeds - £300/day

    £250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...

    Compliance Officer - CF10, CF11, Compliance Oversight, AML, FX

    £100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn