FORMER politician turned broadcaster Michael Portillo is in Salisbury to give an insight into his life and career.

Life: A Game of Two Halves is at City Hall on Friday, January 31, 7.30pm.

“The two halves are clearly my political career and then my career as a broadcaster,” explains Michael. “They can expect, I hope, a few laughs and anecdotes, a bit of autobiography and a bit of the inside track on particularly how we make Railway Journeys, a bit of reflection on current affairs and an opportunity to ask questions.”

Michael enjoyed an extensive politics career with his roles including secretary of state for defence. His interest in politics developed from an early age.

“I was born into a very political family not a conservative family, a family of the left, but when I was a child my parents would talk about politics all the time. I was very well informed as a child about politics.”

As a child, he says, he used to know the names of every minister.

“Going into politics, I think I rarely dreamt that it would happen but it was certainly something that was on my mind,” he added.

“I don’t miss it at all. I had quite a long innings. One way or another I was in politics for getting on 30 years. That is a long time. I had pretty much exhausted my interest in being a participant but I continued to be interested.”

On what he will remember most about this time in his life, he said it was his role as secretary of state, he said: “It was not a particularly turbulent time compared with what has happened since. I wasn’t there either at the times of the Falklands or Iraq or Afghanistan.

"I was there for the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, which seemed quite challenging at the time. But I think the reason I most remember it was because, and this is appropriate when talking about Salisbury with such strong connections to the military, is being so impressed by the people I was dealing with - such high standards and commitment, and very reliable people. That was very inspiring and taught me a lot.”

On Brexit, he said: “I think it is going to end well. Firstly I think that as far as trading physical goods is concerned we are going to end up pretty closely aligned to the European Union not least because we don’t want to create problems in trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

"In other ways like in financial services we are going to diverge, and I think if you look around, you’ve got Mrs Merkel coming to the end of her career in a Germany, which now the economy is completely stagnated. France is very evidently torn apart by problems. Italy and Spain are very unstable politically. Britain suddenly looks like a very stable place.

"With Boris winning with such a large majority the prospect is that the same government will be in for ten years. That offers a degree of stability which contrasts very well with almost any other country that you can think of, maybe including the United States where who knows if Donald Trump is going to hold on or not. But even if he does his policies are so very unpredictable.

“I think Britain looks like a kind of safe haven - a predictably stable economy.”

Michael has now become a familiar face on our television screens presenting a number of shows, including Great British Railway Journeys, which is currently being aired on BBC, and will be followed by Great Asian Railway Journeys.

When asked if railways had been a passion for him, he admitted: “Well to be honest, no. No more than any other little boy. My great passion is history and we use the railway as a vehicle to tell stories about history.

“It isn’t really about railways, it is about travelling by train. It’s about getting off at different places and finding out about history and culture in the places that we arrive.”

Fiming has taken him to India, six countries in South East Asia, Australia, Canada, USA, Alaska, 31 countries in Europe, Morocco, and Israel.

On journeys he would still like to travel to Japan and China. That would be my ambition, it’s not going to happen in 2020 but who knows about 2021.

He added: “In a funny sort of way I couldn’t imagine anything else that I could do. I hoped that I might be able to get into broadcasting. When I was a kid the two things that interested me were politics and broadcasting. Obviously, I had no particular expectation that I’d be lucky enough to pull it off but I have been and that gives us the life of two halves.”

Audiences can expect to see more series of Railway Journeys this year. The next series, Great Asian Railway Journeys, is being aired on BBC 2 from Monday (January 27), which will see him travel to Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

For tickets to Life: A Game of Two Halves go to or 01722 434434.