The famously dogged political reporter has quit TV, but shows no signs of slowing down, having written a rollicking biography of Nigel Farage – and, surprisingly, taken up a role at the Daily Mail’s new project, Mail+
It feels like an inversion of the natural order of things to be on Michael Crick’s doorstep. In almost 40 years as a political reporter Crick has made the kerbside ambush of his subjects, outsize furry microphone to hand, something of a personal art form. During his long stints as political editor of BBC’s Newsnight and as political correspondent at Channel 4 News it was said that there was no more alarming sentence for a government minister than “Michael Crick is waiting for you outside”. For a select few – Jeffrey Archer, Michael Heseltine, Michael Howard – those words have only been eclipsed for anxiety by “Michael Crick is writing your biography”.
Crick’s house is a friendly double-fronted Edwardian terrace just off Clapham Common, south London. He bought it with his mother, Pat, 31 years ago, moved in with her for a while when his first marriage ended and since her death in 2010 has lived here with his partner, Lucy Hetherington (daughter of the former Guardian editor Alastair), and their daughter, who is now 15. He greets me grinning and a bit stir-crazy from 10 days of asymptomatic Covid quarantine, the itinerant gumshoe confined to quarters. We sit at opposite ends of a sofa in the bay window of a book-crammed through room. Crick, a boyish 63, is an obsessive collector not just of uncomfortable facts, but of much else besides. He has “just about” (said through gritted teeth) every Manchester United match day programme since the war. He also hoards political toby jugs. A lineup of the latter on his mantelpiece includes, prominently, the subject of his latest book, Nigel Farage, gurning in a spivvy suit and a gangster’s fedora.