It’s been an exciting few weeks here at Challis Towers.
My first novel, Reggie – A Stag At Bay, will be published on Tuesday. It tells the story of a chap who moves to the countryside and gets up to all sorts of adventures.
I’ve always had a fondness for writing and it’s been enjoyable to create my first novel.
I first got the taste for writing many years ago, when I wrote a play based on my experiences in South Africa. My career took off when I began featuring regularly in TV and writing took something of a back seat.
At that point, I became too busy to write plays or novels. Boycie was a character who took off and became a national treasure. It’s funny to think I nearly didn’t take the role.
I was at a real crossroads in my life when I was offered that part. I’d been out in New York and I’d got visions of staying Stateside. I was tempted to apply for a Green Card and settle down and get married. I had the sort of dreams that all actors do: you know, stay in the USA, live in New York, move to Hollywood and become a big movie star.
I got a call to come back to the UK to appear in a programme written by John Sullivan, the guy who’d also written Citizen Smith. He’d been working on a new programme called Only Fools And Horses and they asked me to appear in a one-off episode.
Initially, the programme wasn’t particularly popular. It was something of a cult hit. But then there was a technicians’ strike at the BBC and somebody decided to take it off the shelves and give it another run.
The rest, as they say, is history. It went on to become the most successful sitcom of all-time and still holds the record for the most-watched sitcom in British TV history, after more than 26 million people tuned in to watch a Christmas episode.
Only Fools and Horses and The Green Green Grass both became enormously successful. In many ways, the team who appeared on them couldn’t believe it when they came to an end. After being in them for so many years, we wondered what would happen next.
In my case, I started to write.
I wrote my first volume of autobiography, Being Boycie, in 2011 and it proved enormously successful. I wrote down a lot of my stories and memories and a good friend, Peter Burden, put them all in order for me and edited them. Writing my autobiography was a real journey: I confronted many of the things that had happened to me in earlier years and I’d put to one side.
The book took off and I soon found myself travelling around the UK, signing copies in bookshops and meeting fans. The second volume, Boycie and Beyond, was published in 2012 and also became a hit.
Rather than signing a deal with a big publishing house, I decided to publish them myself. I created my own company, Wigmore Books, and published them from my home.
I suppose I got the writing bug and that’s when I decided to write Reggie – A Stag At Bay. It’s been very much a ‘local’ effort. My editor lives just around the corner and the company that helps me design the cover is also just up the road.
I’ll be hitting the road to promote Reggie. There’ll be a round of TV, radio and newspaper interviews.
I’m planning a spring tour and I’ll be visiting a number of venues locally, including ones in Market Drayton, Lichfield, Wolverhampton, Stafford and Bridgnorth. But I’ll tell you about that next time: for now, all my efforts are focused on Reggie.