Michael Winner, 74, came to fame directing the Death Wish films in the 70s and 80s. These days, he’s the star of Esure’s adverts and remains one of Britain’s most feared restaurant critics
What’s your earliest memory?
My earliest memories are of my mother, the only person I’ve ever been frightened of. She was a lovely yet terrifying woman. At 14, already writing a showbiz column, I would tell her about having dined with Louis Armstrong or Dean Martin and she would just turn and say, “You know, at bridge last night, Mrs Beecher had a six of clubs. ”
When have you been most frightened in your life?
In Barbados in 2007 – I ate some oysters and ended up with a flesh-eating bug that almost killed me. Illness is what I fear most, and after those oysters I ended up in hospital on morphine for 7 months. They cut away about 15 per cent of my leg, I was pronounced dead five times, then they warned me that my leg might come off. It was very close, but I’m still here. If you face adversity you just have to get on with it.
What makes a good movie?
The script is the most important thing and I’m into the theme of somebody doing something larger than life, going against the odds and finding satisfaction by doing that. Perhaps that’s me?