My Secret Life: Michael Winner, writer & film-maker, 75

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The Independent Online

My parents were ... My father was an angel. My mother was dangerous and mad, but adorable.

The house/flat I grew up in ... was in Lancaster Gate, next to Hyde Park. Outside my window there would be anti-aircraft guns, barrage balloons and searchlights as the Germans attacked.

If I could change one thing about myself ... I would control occasional flashes of temper that are close to total hysteria.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... I am immensely kind to people who have been good to me.

You may not know it but I'm no good at ... dinner parties – something has to be fascinating for me to want to leave the house. Most dinner parties are boring.

At night I dream that ... I am under threat and flying to get out of danger by pulling on a rope. But the danger never seems to recede.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... I used to see a big fat slob, but since I dieted I see someone approaching a human being.

My favourite item of clothing ... is my pyjamas. I wear them to posh restaurants. My adorable fiancée does not approve.

I drive/ride ... either a 1975 Bentley or a convertible 1992 Rolls-Royce Corniche. And I am driven in a 1966 Rolls-Royce Phantom, such as the Queen uses a lot.

My house is ... very grand. I am leaving it to the nation as a museum. The best thing in it is my fiancée Geraldine. I don't think she wants to be left to the nation.

My favourite building ... is my house: it has 46 rooms, a swimming pool, gym and a cinema. I don't need to leave it. I am an English version of Howard Hughes, really.

A book that changed me ... 'Walter the Farting Dog', the first book for years that I read from start to finish. It is marvellously written and totally unpretentious.

Movie heaven ... would be – in my own cinema – watching the best film in the entire history of the medium: 'The Third Man'.

The last album I bought ... was 'The Best of Johnnie Ray'. He is an incredible singer from the 1950s – a more orderly Elvis Presley.

My eternal crush ... is the lady who was in my first film in 1957, who I saw intermittently for decades and who, after many years, agreed to marry me: Geraldine Lynton-Davies. She is very beautiful and posh ... and I'm very common. It is a good mix.

My greatest regret ... is that I was so busy being a Jack the Lad film director and shafting all the girls that I didn't give enough time and consideration to my parents while they were alive. Now they've gone and nothing I do can make up for that.

My real-life villain ... I'm sorry to say – one should not speak ill of the dead – but it is [the actor and singer] Adam Faith. I think he was not the cheerful cockney. He was unscrupulous, disloyal, money-grabbing and worst of all, inept.

The person who really makes me laugh ... is Michael McIntyre. But I was friends with Tommy Cooper and Bob Hope, and am still with John Cleese. It's a wonderful thing to provide to the human spirit with laughter.

The last time I cried ... was not long ago. I am always moved by joy or suffering.

My five-year plan ... is to stay alive. If I can do that then I really will have won.

What's the point? It's to help others and give amusement. If you can put some fun into the world, you ain't done badly.

My life in six words ... chaotic would have to be one.

A life in brief

Michael Winner was born in London on 30 October 1935. As a film director and producer, he created numerous colourful titles including the 'Death Wish' series starring Charles Bronson. More recently he has reinvented himself as an outspoken television personality and globe-trotting restaurant critic. 'Michael Winner's Dining Stars' starts on Friday 26 February on ITV1 at 9pm