Celeb interviews

At home with: Adrian Simpson



Adrian Simpson has had a fascinating and varied career. He is an experienced broadcaster and writer and has presented a wide range of shows including Top Gear and Police, Camera, Action. His latest series is Fight Back Britain for BBC1, which he co-presents with Julia Bradbury. He has always had a real passion for property, and he tells Lynda Clark about his first home and his interesting career >>


FTB: Tell us about your first step on the property ladder.
It was 10 years ago, and prices had been going up by the day for about eight years. Most people were predicting some sort of crash back then, but nobody could really see where it was coming from. My wife and I spent weeks looking at houses with For Sale signs and popping into estate agents because, although the internet obviously did exist, a decent property search engine didn’t. We noticed a house go up for sale in the area we liked, by an out-of-town estate agent, and we were the fi rst people to see it the next day. It was fantastically undervalued and needed plenty of work doing to it, but I offered the asking price, and it was ours within a few months. We did all the work ourselves and sold it just a few weeks before our wedding.

FTB: What is your current home like?
AS: All our homes have had one basic similarity: they all needed work. We bought a farmhouse in Sussex a few years ago, and we’ve done the work bit by bit this time rather than gut the place as we have before. There is still an awful lot to do, but I enjoy the challenge. My dad was an engineer, and I suppose I have been learning things from him since I was about fi ve. I do most of the work myself, and I’ve put in a new kitchen and bathroom, and as it’s a wood cladded house, I’ve replaced that too.

FTB: It sounds like you are very busy. Do you have any spare time?
AS: Well, I am always pretty busy – we have two children and a dog – but I fi nd time to play rugby for the local team, plus I love anything to do with military history, and I am trying to train for an ultra marathon. My dream would be starting a microbrewery!

FTB: Tell us about your career.
AS: I’ve had quite an eclectic time of it. Having completed a pharmacology degree at Leeds University, I went to live in rural Japan to work as an English teacher, and I learnt the language and how to snowboard! I then decided to return home to work in the City, but I had set my sights on becoming a motoring journalist, so I left the Citybehind and worked my way through the ranks of the leading car magazines, eventually landing a job as a test driver. I worked all over the world test driving everything from sports cars to tanks. This led me into motoring journalism and to the start of my broadcasting career as one of the main presenters on BBC’s Top Gear. 

I have always been very interested in property, and all the time I’ve been turning properties around both here and abroad as it’s what I love to do. In fact, my wife and I have been buying and selling properties for many years. We left London and moved to Montenegro for three years and became property developers there too.

FTB: What are your current projects?
AS: I have just bought a brush cutter and mini tractor and have spent the last few weeks turning what looked like a jungle into a couple of decent paddocks. The next stop is a homemade tree house with a death slide! I am also building a new conservatory with my dad.

FTB: Tell us about your new series, Fight Back Britain.
AS: This is a new series starting on BBC1, and I co-present it with Julia Bradbury. It focuses on the role the public plays in helping police fi ght crime and anti-social behaviour. It shows how social networks, mobile phone footage and eyewitness accounts can provide crucial evidence in identifying suspects and assisting in successful convictions. We also report from the street and meet the people involved in retrospective cases. It is a great platform to fi nd out what is going on in our society, and we highlight what people are doing about it.

As well as these stories, the programme will provide advice on how members of the public can play their part in responsibly aiding the police, as well as giving insights into how they can keep their family and property safe. We also include ongoing cases where an appeal for evidence would be useful in securing a conviction.

FTB: What advice have you got for aspiring first time buyers?
AS: Never chase a property. If something you have your heart set on doesn’t work out, walk away and wait for the next one. Chasing a property only ever leads to misery. There are millions of properties out there, and if you have any doubts before you start you will only regret it. If something is wrong, it will only get worse, so make sure you are 100% certain before you go too far. The market has been quite static, so there hasn’t been much chance to get on the ladder, and money has been very tight. Shared ownership is one way to make it work and the government’s new Help to Buy equity loan scheme is proving to be very popular. If the fi gures stack up, then go for it, but if they don’t, then think again.

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