A (not very) Interactive Interview with Sir Clive Sinclair on Classic FM

Clive, tell me, let's go back to the beginning. Erm, I read that quite obviously you were always intrigued as a child by how things worked.

PLAY > Yes I was

And did you sort of pull them apart and put them back together again or what?

PLAY > Well, certainly the pulling apart bit, anyway (laughs)

And, er, y- why- where did you start inventing?

PLAY > Well, at school. Erm, I was always intrigued by y- you know, calculators and, er, mechanical calculators in those days, and I used to, erm, design and sometimes make those. And, erm, I got all sorts of things I got interested in, one stage it was a one man submarine that I started to build at the school I was at, but, fortunately I left the school before I could complete it.

Yes, if you would just-

Touch- touch dangerous (laughs)

Yes, we've lost Sinclair, he's gone down. Heh heh, heh heh. Erm, were you a very studious schoolboy, I mean, the sort of chap who sat at the back very quiet...

PLAY > No. I started off by being fairly studious, then c- um, did well in my exams. In fact, I think I always did pretty well in exams. But I- I was anything but, erm, sort of, well behaved, er, schoolboy. I was always in trouble for one thing or another-


Generally, it was wanting to do, go my own way rather than the way-


I was being, er, steered.

Were you very good at maths and-


That sort of thing?

PLAY > Very good, yes.


Found it very easy.



What about sport?

PLAY > No. Very poor. Er, gym I was good at, and swimming, but very poor at things like football, or...


Or, whatever.

It's strange, that often goes that people who are brilliant at maths lack that sort of co-ordination.

PLAY > Yes, er, yes, yes, that's right.

What about your- your parents th- the- they saw they had this inventive son. Wh- did they encourage you or were they a bit puzzled by


This chap trying to build a submarine at school? (laughs)

PLAY >] Well, my father was, who was also, erm, an engineer, and, sort- erm, sometimes inventor, he was, erm, very encouraging, erm, my mother is, erm, was not so, um, interested in that side of, of life.

Hmm. But how old were you when you actually decided, "Right, I'm going to be an inventor. That's it."?

Well, there used to be a programme on the radio called Larry the Lamb, and-

Oh, Toytown-


Baa, Mr Gregor. (laughs)

Yes, that's exactly it. I used to listen to that when I was, I suppose, about six or seven, and there was an inventor on that, and I thought...

That's right, yes.

That sounded a brilliant thing to be.

Mr Inventor, yes, yes (laughs). Well, that's a wonderful thing, and, I mean, you left school and went into, er, I think-

Technical journalism

Technical journalism, yes.

I didn't want to go to university, because I wanted to get out into the world and get on with things-

Th- youw- That's interesting. Wha- what- do you think that might of sort of spoilt your outlook, too much formal training?

Erm, well, I'd been very bored at school the last few years, erm, and I wanted, to get on and, I like to teach myself, bu- b- but I find b- that easier and much faster, and, er, so I wanted to get out and start in business as soon as possible, w-


Because I knew that if I wanted to invent things I'd have to do it myself, and, wasn't likely to find someone else t- to take on the invention.

And the first great success was what?

PLAY > Well, certainly not great in any real sense, but what I started off doing was, erm, kits for electronics amateurs, which was quite a big hobby in those days, and I used to-


Yes. Little amplifier kits and little radio kits. And they, I'm glad to say, went very well, and I sold them by mail order.

Yes. let's go onto your next choice of music. It's Whistlin' Rick's and it's his "Hold My Hand (Very Tightly)", no less. Why do you like that?

I love the romantic composers, Chopin and so forth, and, erm, in particular, this very sort of, calm beautiful, piano music.