FOR Michael Portillo, his career really has been a life of two halves.

To many Portillo will be known for his years spent in the Houses of Parliament, as a former cabinet member of the Conservative party and much favoured by Margaret Thatcher.

For others he is the man off the TV who likes trains. Two very polar opposite career choices but ones that the 65-year-old insists have similarities.

“There is crossover in both jobs,” Portillo explains to The Gazette.

“In both roles I need to have a passion and enthusiasm for what I am talking about and tell a story. Not in the fictitious sense but in the sense that I am a vehicle for whatever the narrative is.”

In his latest show, Life: A Game of Two Halves, Portillo will regale the audience at The Anvil with tales of his time in politics, as well as his adventures across the globe learning the history of the railways.

The former MP is very candid about his opportunities since losing his Kensington and Chelsea seat in 1997 and admits that he fell on his feet.

He said: “The first few days after the 1997 election it was a bit of an adjustment, but I was making my first documentary a month after I lost my seat.”

Portillo added: “One of the first broadcasting opportunities that I was given was I appeared on a show exploring the railways, which was presented by a different person each week.

“I was told it would be quite autobiographical and I told the story about my father and his relationship with the railways and a lot of people really connected with that as they didn’t know that side of my life.

“They seemed to connect with that, so when it came to doing the Great British Railway Journeys, of course I was honoured to be asked.”

Audiences have fallen in love with Portillo since transitioning to broadcasting, many now calling him a national treasure.

Making the Great British Railway Journeys has allowed the broadcaster to travel the world, but he admits it is not a love for trains that has sparked his passion.

“I have a real interest in history,” Portillo adds.

“I actually have a degree in history so that is where my passion lies.

"Nearly everything that I cover is a chance for me to learn something, and I am learning all the time.

“There are times when we are going into a lot of detail, so it is my job to learn and I have a great enthusiasm to learn.”

Even though he is now known more for his TV presence and taking selfies with fans from across the globe, Portillo most certainly keeps his finger on the pulse when it comes to politics.

As a regular commentator of BBC One’s This Week Portillo said that the current political climate is one of the UK’s darker days.

He said: “At the moment it is very difficult what is to say what is going to happen in British politics in the next month let alone in the foreseeable future.”

Michael Portillo Life: A Game of Two Halves is on at the Anvil on Friday, 19 October, with tickets costing £20.50.

For more information about the show or to purchase tickets, go to