The 5-Minute Interview: Richard O'Brien, Songwriter, actor, TV presenter

'I love it when pun and fun in writing and poetry come together'


Richard O'Brien, 64, is best known for writing the 'Rocky Horror Show' musical and presenting 'The Crystal Maze'. He hosts the new DVD game 'Carry on Quizzing'

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be...

Mulling over the musical we are planning for the spring - it's a cheap pulp detective fiction called The Stripper - at the same time as getting rid of junk. If you have children and they go off on their own you discover that you have a shed full of useless stuff. The Buddha says when you hit 50 you are supposed to start scaling your life down.

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

The success of Rocky Horror Show. The original run was three weeks. I was expecting to be looking for another job. It launched Tim Curry's career. It really was a crowd-pleaser and people are still interacting with it 33 years later.

A common misperception of me is...

That I am off the wall. I am slightly more attached to middle England than people give me credit for. We have thrown the baby out with the bath water with UK plc. Why Tate Britain? It smacks of Tony Blair and Terry Conran and those horrible men in suits and blue shirts.

A phrase I use far too often is...

The Irish phrase "Heavens to Murgatroyd".

I wish people would take more notice of...

The three major religions are all one and yet they all kill each other in His name. It's blasphemous.

I am not a politician but...

On certain issues I'm slightly to the right of Genghis Khan and on others I am a "commie pinko faggot", I think the general term is.

I'm good at ...

Writing lyrics. It's an internal rhyme. My favourite writers are people like Gershwin. All those stunning couplets. I love wit and intelligence - when pun and fun in writing and poetry come together.

I'm very bad at...

Numbers. I'm numerically dyslexic.

In moments of weakness I...

Revert to type. I go to bed. I run away from confrontation and emotional pressures, which is rather childish and shallow of me.

You know me as a playwright but in truer life...

I'd have had a proper job I guess. I never expected a free lunch. But I can't think of anything I would have been any good at.

The best age to be is...

40 is not bad and late thirties is pretty damn good. You're reaching for maturity and yet you're still young and viable and juicy.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:

I have painted around the top of my kitchen, "Love Kindness Gentleness Loyalty". Kindness is central. It ennobles us.

Sara Newman

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