The 5-minute Interview: Quentin Willson, TV presenter and journalist

'I'd rather go to an art gallery than discuss Ferraris in the pub'
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The Independent Online

The motoring commentator Quentin Willson, 50, presented BBC TV's 'Top Gear' with Jeremy Clarkson for more than a decade before moving to Channel 5's 'Fifth Gear'. He is focusing on educating consumers about energy-efficient driving and advanced fuels

A phrase I use far too often is...

"Kind of" and "like". West-coast Californian nonsense has infected this country.

I wish people would take more notice of...

Integrity doesn't seem to matter, invading Iraq and lying about WMD. We have lost all ethical value. Blair should be known as the man who murdered truth and now Brown is pretending he was asleep during those meetings.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was...

Standing in Van Nuys airport in Los Angeles watching a Learjet land and then Bill Clinton got out. It was at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

A common misperception of me is...

That I'm respectable and boring, but I can go wild at times. People don't realise I did English literature at university. I would much rather go to an art gallery or pore over a T S Eliot poem than discuss Ferraris in the pub. I'm also quite green. Land Rovers have been construed as the environmental satan but there are 10,000 Polish lorries coming into the UK with no catalytic converters. Old cars get off scot-free.

I am not a politician but...

I would try and get people to understand that it's about truth, integrity and transparency. I'd start with education, law and order. I sound like my grandfather but I don't know if this behemoth of moral degeneration can be reversed. Maybe every generation says that.

I'm good at...

I'm quite creative and good with words. I can tell a story. I'm a good father.

I'm very bad at...

Dancing. I'm very proud to have the lowest recorded score on Strictly Come Dancing. Builders ran up to me to shake my hand because I failed so badly. I tried, but I was the dancing equivalent of a JCB.

The ideal night out is...

Drinking with close friends in London. It's the world in one place.

In moments of weakness...

I open a bottle of wine from our vineyard in France. Occasionally I buy an old car. At the moment, I'm thinking about a 1964 Mustang.

You know me as a presenter but in another life...

I'd be an English lecturer, like my mother hoped, or something in advertising.

The best age to be is...

A confident age. It's no good being 21 if you're racked with self-doubt.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:

To do your best as you go through life. Things like money and success will follow. To be as kind as you can and understand that people are the most interesting things in life, and to listen.

Claire Daly

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