Portillo: I put people off as an MP because I looked stressed

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Michael Portillo has said he is more popular as a television presenter than he was as an MP because his stressed look when he was a politician put people off.

The former Tory minister reinvented himself after quitting politics in 2005 and has won fans fronting the BBC's Great Railway Journeys programmes.

Michael Portillo (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)
Michael Portillo (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

He told Radio Times: "I think one of the reasons I was so unpopular (is that) I was thought to be very arrogant.

"I may have been, but I was very stressed and I think on television if you look stressed people tend to be against you.

"Whereas to be on television as a presenter, it's very easy not to look stressed because you're saying your own thing, you can have another take and so on and so on.

"It's not like being Humphrys-ed or Paxo-ed."

Portillo said when he started out in front of the camera, "having just been in politics and all that, I think I was quite zipped up, quite uptight, and I certainly am not now".

The 63-year-old said he felt "very lucky" that he never became Prime Minister.

"I think it was a burden of responsibility that I wasn't cut out for, really," he said.

"And I think, you know, the process is largely self-selecting.

"On the whole, the people who aren't meant to make it, don't make it. You need a particular sort of resilience."

This week's Radio Times is on sale on Tuesday.