WHEN he was about 18 Derek Fowlds made a pact with his mother that if he won a scholarship to Rada he would pursue a career in acting. If he didn't he would go back to being a printer.
Fortunately he did win the scholarship and has been entertaining us ever since he left drama school in a career spanning six decades.
And fans of the Balham-born actor can hear all about his life on stage and screen at a special show to be held at the Museum Of Comedy on June 25.
Derek Fowlds: Yes Prime Minister and Me will see the 79-year-old in conversation with journalist Sam Westerby about his long career.
And what a career he’s had. From Mr Derek in Basil Brush Show to Bernard Woolley in the phenomenally successful Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, not to mention Heartbeat which he was in for 18 years, he’s not been idle.
And in a chat ahead of the show he tells me he’s really looking forward to coming to the Museum of Comedy, somewhere he’s not been to before.
"It promises to be quite an evening, " he says warmly. "My autobiography was published at the end of last year and this is part of its promotion. My publishers asked if I’d like to be interviewed at the Museum of Comedy.
"It’s where relics go so it will be nice if there are more than 10 people in the audience,” he adds chuckling.
“Sam has read the book and talks about the book. I talk to the audience and if they want to ask me anything that’s great.”
Chatty and cracking plenty of jokes throughout, if my conversation with Derek is anything to go by audiences at the evening will be in for a treat.
He’s extremely entertaining and engaging company and as you might expect has a wealth of anecdotes and stories to regale me as he talks with fondness about his long career.
“I’ve been at it for years, in fact it seems like a life time, and done a lot yet most people only believe I have had three jobs - Basil Brush, Yes Minister and Heartbeat," he says.
“Yes Minister was a joy and I'm so pleased they still show the programmes. It was wonderful to be part of.
“I was sent the script and I thought it was about vicars initially,” he chuckles. “When they said it was about politicians I didn’t think it would work. But when I read the script I realised what a hoot it was - fun and very brilliant and was actually ground-breaking.
“I saw a repeat the other day and I laughed at myself - I looked about 12! Mind you the others looked about 20.
“It was a total joy and I did 40 programmes over seven years. And then I went to Heartbeat for 18 years. I was going to leave after six as Nick Berry and Niamh Cusack were going to leave and I wanted to leave to go back to the theatre but I was seduced into it.
"They paid me good money and so I ended up staying another 12 years. It was a great time and I made so many friends.”
But as Derek tells me, that’s not all. He’s done 14 plays in the West End over the years and trod the boards on stages all over the world including in Broadway and Canada. He’s also done numerous TV shows and more than a dozen films including Hotel Paradiso with Alec Guinness which he describes as “great” and even a couple of horror films.
“You see I’ve been around the block,” he laughs. “But I have enjoyed it all and really love working in all mediums and I remember all the people I’ve worked with.”
And the roll call of names is as impressive as you might expect - Dirk Bogarde, Alec Guinness, Alastair Sim.
“I have wonderful memories of all the people and moments that this profession is made up of," he says. "I consider myself very lucky to work with them.”
And he shows no sign of slowing down and says he's looking forward to the show later this month.
"I have had a great career so far - I have been a lucky boy,” he says.
Derek Fowlds - Yes Minister and Me is at the Museum of Comedy on Sunday, June 25. Tickets cost £17. Visit www.museumofcomedy.com for full listings. Derek’s autobiography A Part Worth Playing is available from fantomfilms.co.uk.