My mother mistakenly booked my father into a brothel
Interview by York Membery
PIcture by Johan Persson
How often do you travel?
As little as possible! Actually, I love travelling, but two-thirds of it is for work. Over the last year Iíve spent a few days in New York and six months in South Africa Ė working on an American TV series that sadly didnít take off. South Africa is a stunning country, but I didnít like the juxtaposition between rich and poor. I managed to cram in a three-week holiday to Morocco Ė to Marrakesh and the Atlas Mountains Ė with family and friends. It was wonderful, if a tad too hot for my liking.
Where did you go on holiday as a child?
I remember going to Concarneau, on the Brittany coast, for two or three summers as a child and having the most magical time: snorkelling, buying bread in the morning, and having watered-down red wine for the first time. Iíve since discovered that my mother mistakenly booked my father [Sir Peter Parker, the former chairman of British Rail] into a hotel that turned out to be a brothel Ė so he ended up sleeping in the car that night!
What do you need for the perfect holiday?
Family, beach and culture. And books Ė although being dyslexic, Iím quite a slow reader.
Most adventurous travel experience?
I filmed Into Thin Air in the Austrian Alps about 20 years ago, and ended up hanging off little ropes with a cameraman from mountain tops in the freezing cold.
Most remote place you've ever been?
I visited Darfur in the western Sudan as part of a famine relief campaign. I was there for a week and ended up sleeping in remote rat-infested huts on the Chad-Sudan border, one of the most extreme experiences of my life.
Most luxurious travel experience?
My wife and I stole a week in Bali 25 years ago, and stayed in the Amandari resort hotel, which was amazing. Little girls threw rose petals at our feet Ė probably totally illegally Ė as we arrived at our little bungalow with its swimming pool. It was the lap of luxury and I enjoyed every waking minute I was there.
Las Alamandas, a secluded 16-suite luxury resort on the west coast of Mexico, set in a 1,500-acre nature reserve. It boasts beautiful untouched beaches where you wonít see another soul. As we were arriving, Robert De Niro was checking out, having booked the entire place for him and his mates for the previous two weeks.
Venice. Iíll never forget going along the Grand Canal with Laurence Fishburne dressed as Othello, and me as Cassio, and the two of us leaping out, our swords strapped to our belts, and making for the nearest cafť and casually asking for two cappuccinos.
Most memorable travel experience?
I remember going to Kenya twice with my parents when I was young Ė before it was really popular Ė and just learning so much about Africa. I went on a safari, visited some stunning national parks and flew to Uganda Ė but the one thing that has never left me is the realisation of just how well off we in the West are compared with most people in Africa.
Best travel tip?
Pack a quarter of what the rest of your family pack, and learn a bit of the local lingo.
What do you hate about holidays?
Too much heat Ė and I suppose being treated as a tourist, even if I am one.
How do you survive a long flight?
If youíre on a plane your choices are limited: you can eat, drink, watch movies or read. And Iím afraid I indulge myself and make the most of whatís available. But I never feel that guilty: I remember my mum telling me at an early age that calories donít count when youíre up in the air.
Your travel essential?
You are asking the King of Faffers here. Passport, boarding pass, even luggage, are all things I have left behind and Iíve still survived. The only thing that has got me through those nasty but very real dilemmas is my wallet. So I guess I should say that. On a more esoteric note, donít forget how to relax.
Iíve never been to India and would just love to go there with my family for two or three weeks, soak up the culture and colour and see the wildlife.