Five Minutes with Olly Smith

Olly Smith
Olly Smith

How did you go from scriptwriter to wine buff?

In the school holidays, I used to work in a wine shop as a cellar boy. Then I went off and did some scriptwriting on stuff like Pingu, Wallace And Gromit and Charlie And Lola. A reality TV show came along called Wine Idol, which I managed to win, and it gave me a small break on TV. I passionately believe there’s a wine out there for every palette and every pocket, it’s just a case of listening to what people like. So if you were to tell me your favourite flavour - say it’s pickled onion Monster Munch - I would be able to diagnose a wine that would knock your socks off.

That’s some skill!

It’s one of those things - if you love a hobby or career, you get really good at it. So because I’m tasting lots of wine (I spit it out rather than swallow it, otherwise I’d be paralytic all day long), I’m on the lookout for things I think people will like and that are bargains - things to really tantalise. And always pour wines into a jug - it doesn’t have to be a fancy decanter - because it really opens up the flavour.

Is it true you once wrote something for Roger Moore?

Yes, it is! I wrote a little something for Unicef, which is Roger Moore’s charity of choice. It’s called The Fly Who Loved Me and I played the fly, and Rog was Father Christmas. He’s been an inspiration of mine for years and I’ve known him now for a decade, which is unbelievable. People say never meet your heroes, but within about 40 seconds of meeting him, he became my hero for a different reason, because of the way he spoke so kindly about people all over the world who struggle. I just felt like a better person for knowing Rog, and at Christmas time it’s always nice to get a card from James Bond. He’s a very real, generously spirited man.

Is he your favourite Bond?

He’s without a doubt head and shoulders above the rest, although I do like Daniel Craig. Rog was the Bond I had growing up, and I liked the fact that he didn’t take himself too seriously. The films are a little bit ludicrous - here’s a supposed spy who is recognised by the maitre d’ at every hotel he visits; he’s got no cover whatsoever. The reality of the Bond films is very questionable, but they remain my favourites.

If you got the green light to get any project off the ground, what whould it be?

I would really love to do a series that covers the locations and the biggest fans of the Bond films. Right from Tokyo to Taunton, you have people who are obsessed with the franchise, and it’s always really about the lead guy. What we don’t know is who loves James Bond - it is boys or girls, is it old people or young people? That’s the show I’ve always wanted to make, the one that teases out the most dedicated fans because I believe they would be every bit as quirky, interesting, eccentric and ludicrous as the James Bond franchise.

What will you be drinking at Christmas?

For a turkey dinner, I always recommend a Rioja from Spain. It’s an amazing combination because it’s a meatilicious friend to all those things that go with the turkey, like the bacon and sausages; it can even handle the cranberry jelly. As for Christmas pudding, I recommend a sparkling Asti. It’s a lovely refresher and it’s as cheap as chips at the moment. Those are my failsafe options and will be open at Smith Towers.

What else have you got in the pipeline?

I’m doing a new travel show in January that I’m filming in Australia. I’ve been filling in for Clare Balding on BBC Radio 2 for Good Morning Sunday, and I’m very much hoping I’ll be doing more of that in 2015. But immediately, of course, it’s Christmas and that’s the busiest time of my year.