You ask the questions: Chris Tarrant

(Such as: Chris Tarrant, just how important is money to you?)
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The Independent Online

Chris Tarrant, 53, was born in Reading. He was a schoolteacher until 1972, when he became a television presenter and reporter, making a name for himself on the anarchic children's show, Tiswas. Since 1984, he has been Capital Radio's breakfast show host, broadcasting to an audience of more than 2 million every week. He hosts the quiz show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, which attracts over 17 million viewers. A new series of Tarrant on TV begins in 2000. Tarrant lives in Esher, Surrey, with his wife, Ingrid, and four of his six children.

Chris Tarrant, 53, was born in Reading. He was a schoolteacher until 1972, when he became a television presenter and reporter, making a name for himself on the anarchic children's show, Tiswas. Since 1984, he has been Capital Radio's breakfast show host, broadcasting to an audience of more than 2 million every week. He hosts the quiz show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, which attracts over 17 million viewers. A new series of Tarrant on TV begins in 2000. Tarrant lives in Esher, Surrey, with his wife, Ingrid, and four of his six children.

How will you be celebrating New Year's Eve? Natalie Preston, Bedford

Certainly not in an aeroplane! I spend a lot of time being flown around for both business and pleasure every year and I have no problems with being up in a plane at all, but I have a real phobia about this Millennium Bug, and whether there's even a grain of truth in it or not, I certainly shan't be putting anything to the test at 39,000ft! So, instead, we are hiding down at a friend's very large house, deep in the Surrey countryside: Ingrid, my wife, and I and all the kids, and a lot of other old close friends and their families as well. After all sorts of exotic plans earlier in the year, we all slowly realised that this was what we all wanted - a chance to see in the new century amongst people you don't mind getting drunk with!

How important is money to you? Hannah Gill by e-mail

Obviously I can't say it's unimportant, because I work hard and do get paid a lot, but then I am currently fronting the most successful game show in the world and get up very early every morning to work for the most successful commercial station in Europe - so I'd expect to get a few quid out of them! Obviously if you play football for Arsenal, you're gonna get paid more than if you play for Port Vale.

But I'm not obsessed with the stuff at all - I do have a large family, six kids, who have all gone through private education and when I'm not working we do tend to take expensive holidays. I also live in a large house because, frankly, with my tribe I need one! The main thing that money does for me is buys a lot of privacy and a lot of freedom of choice in all sorts of ways.

On your unusual career path, what comes after 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire'? David Sandford, Ryde, Isle of Wight

That is actually a difficult one. It has been hugely successful - not just in Britain but all around the world - and does bring me enormous satisfaction. People are always telling me that I'm best at things that I'm obviously enjoying and I enjoy Who Wants to be a Millionaire? hugely. I enjoy the sheer drama of it, the highs, the lows, the tension and, above all, the tremendous variety of people. They come in as complete strangers in the afternoon and yet by the end of the day, we have spent perhaps half an hour sitting absolutely eyeball to eyeball with each other. It is almost the ultimate TV programme. It is perhaps the perfect TV game show. At the moment it's "must-see" television, and I would love to do it for as long as it stays at that kind of peak level. Once the national obsession with it begins to show signs of weakening, whether that's in two years or 20, I shall have had enough and I feel I may well not look too hard for any sort of replacement vehicle. It's gonna be very hard to follow and perhaps I won't even try.

Best (and worst) fan mail? Wendy Russell, Penzance

I'm not sure whether this counts as best or worst, but many years ago when I worked in the television newsroom at ATV as one of their young reporters I started to get my first few fan letters - and very strange they were, too. I do remember one very long and rambling letter from a clearly demented woman in the West Midlands who kept going on about my "hunky chest", "manly physique" and my "tight, trim, little buttocks", ending the whole absurd letter with the extraordinary statement: "I just want to put my head in your trousers."

Secretly I found it thoroughly embarrassing, but it became even more so when my then boss grabbed the letter and, unbeknown to me, sent her a pair of my trousers, which I used to leave hanging up in the wardrobe, with a note, saying: "Here are Chris Tarrant's trousers. Please feel free to put your head in them any time you like!"

What became of the gorgeous Sally James of 'Tiswas' fame? How did you get on with her? Nicholas E Gough, Swindon, Wiltshire

Sally and I were great mates on Tiswas but nothing more - in spite of all sorts of rumours at the time. I still see Sally quite often. She lives only a couple of miles up the road from me and I'm godfather to one of her kids. She's married to a very successful celebrity manager, is fiercely proud of her three sons, runs a very successful school uniform company and has no real interest in getting back into the business full time. She still does some commercials once in a while and last year did a stint with Talk Radio... and the great news for all those smutty little adolescent boys who grew up ogling her is that she is still exactly the same shape as she was back in the Seventies!

What is your greatest extravagance? Tracy Brown, by e-mail

I'm not particularly extravagant - I live well but I see no real point in being flash in an industry where I'm surrounded by flash! However, I did once get spectacularly drunk as a skunk at The Boat Show and bought a very large, expensive boat! The next morning, groaning with a hangover, I realised the enormity of what I had done, or at least thought I might have done but hoped it was all a bad dream. Then I had a nervous peep at the most recent stub in my cheque book, and the grim reality was there in black and white.

What are your feelings towards Kara Noble now? And what would you say to her if you ran into her at a party?

Daisy Daniels, London, SW3

My feelings towards Kara are completely unchanged from when I felt forced to make my press statement about the whole unpleasant saga in the middle of the summer. I was angry, but also saddened that someone who I had worked very closely with for a number of years, would sink so low as to sell an 11-year-old photo to the tabloids for money - particularly two weeks before a young couple's wedding. It came as a great shock at the time that I'd read someone so wrong and I still feel bitter about the whole business. Of course I forgive her, but don't particularly want to see her again.

I think it's unlikely that Kara and l would bump into each other at a party, as I can't imagine anybody who would invite her.

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