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A Tory’s Story

Michael Portilo

Entertainment and politics rarely overlapped in the past, increasingly they do. Even current politicians get in on the act, as anyone who has seen Barack Obama’s early voting video will know. But it’s former politicians who are particularly keen to show their lighter side, with a steady stream of participants on the likes of Have I Got News For You and Strictly Come Dancing. More distinctive is the niche carved out by Michael Portillo, who is coming to Lowther Pavilion on 7 November.

It is perhaps difficult to know what Michael Denzil Xavier Portillo is best known for these days, as his political career finished over a decade ago. For those who aren’t old enough to remember that, or remember it that well, he was at one point seen as the heir apparent to Margaret Thatcher and therefore a potential Prime Minister of the country. The loss of his Enfield Southgate seat was one of the defining moments of the 1997 election, though in late 1999 he returned to the House of Commons following a by-election win in the safe Conservative seat of Kensington and Chelsea.

Portillo is a man of varied interests and experiences. He studied at Peterhouse, Cambridge and has gone on to present TV programmes on subjects as diverse as the composer Wagner, the nature of Spain and capital punishment. He has been a regular guest on the political programme This Week since 2003, and is a long serving panel member on the Radio 4 series The Moral Maze. One of his more infamous documentary appearances was as a subject in 2003 when he traded his normal routine for that of a Wallasey single parent mum living on benefits.

Perhaps Michael Portillo’s best know passion outside the political arena these days is railways. This is reflected in the hugely popular franchise of Great British Railway Journeys, which has run to no fewer than seven series, and Great Continental Railway Journeys, which has run to four series itself. Showing no signs of hitting the buffers, the branch line of Great American Railroad Journeys was broadcast for the first time this year.

In addition to all of the above Portillo has been a theatre critic, rather ironically for The New Statesman, a non-executive director of BAe systems and patron of several charities. You can therefore expect his performance at The Lowther to cover a wide range of subjects, though given it is titled ‘Life: A Game Of Two Halves’ it is fair to assume one half will be politics.

The talk is on Monday 7 November at 7.30pm with tickets cost £17.50 and £15.50 for seniors.  Further details available at lowtherpavilion.co.uk.

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