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In The Spotlight > In The Spotlight > In the Spotlight: Christopher Wilson

In the Spotlight: Christopher Wilson

CHRISTOPHER WILSON (1957-65) has spent the past few years writing fiction under the pen-name TP Fielden, and his seventh novel 'Betraying The Crown' was published last summer. This book completes his wartime Buckingham Palace trilogy, informed by his many years as a royal biographer and commentator, and has been warmly praised in national newspaper reviews.  

Having worked for The Times, Telegraph, Express and Mail during a lengthy Fleet Street career, he continues to be in demand as a newspaper columnist and also makes regular TV appearances.  Recently he co-presented Al Jazeera's extensive coverage of Queen Elizabeth II's death and funeral, and the coronation of King Charles.

Tell us about what you do now. Has your time at the school influenced your life today?

Very much so.  I was encouraged to write by Peter Hetherington and, like many others, owe him much - his enthusiasm led me into a life of journalism and authorship for which I'll remain forever grateful. I try to write every day, either feature-writing for newspapers or fiction, and thank my lucky stars my work is still in demand after all these years.

Tell us about your time at BMS. Do you have any special memories you would like to share?

Along with others of my generation, memories are coloured by the disciplinarian regime which could sometimes make life pretty uncomfortable. On the other hand, it put iron in the soul and, unquestionably, the quality of teaching was superb. The school's cultural life was enriched by the innumerable societies one could join, from music and drama to more esoteric interests - truly, there was something for everyone.  I wasn't especially sporty, but I captained the Second VIII and shivers still run down my spine when I watch the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.  

Who was someone from your time at BMS who had an impact on you and why?

Two people stand out - Peter Hetherington, already mentioned, and Freddie Rawlins, who was head of music and who propelled me into a lifelong love of music in all its forms. His musical productions of Messiah and the Fauré Requiem especially stand out in memory - they were immaculately done.  Peter Hetherington's stage plays were always a thrill to take part in, whether onstage or behind the scenes.  One further master who left a great impression was Michael Potter, who taught me French for a short time and once rewarded me with a sixpence for being the first in the class to count to 100 in the language. My life at BMS was one of small but encouraging triumphs!

What do you do like to do in your spare time?

I live on the edge of Dartmoor, and its overwhelming beauty touches my daily life. So I walk a lot, and see and hear as much music as I can. And - a writer writes! There seems to be no cutoff between work and leisure time, they blend happily into each other. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Be brave, don't be scared of making mistakes. Don't allow yourself to be categorised, and feel confident in seeing yourself as an individual, not one of the crowd.

Are there any other thoughts you would like to share with the OBM and BMS community?

Try to repay, in some way or other, the gift of the unique education you've been given.  I was fortunate, 40 years ago, to have the opportunity to found the Oxford University Journalism Awards, a charity which has rewarded and mentored countless student journalists ever since.  It's my thank-you for the good times journalism gave me.   

And I so admire the direction BMS has taken in the nearly 60 years since I left.  The school continues to flourish, I look with envy on its present-day ethos and countless achievements - and think how much I'd love to be a pupil there today! 

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