Although Arnie Wilson comes from an artistic background (his father, Bernard, was a composer who met his wife Joan, a concert pianist, at London’s Wigmore Hall where they were both featured in a concert) he has inherited few of their talents. ‘I failed to learn the French horn, my favourite instrument, but did manage to play the flute in the Canterbury Youth Orchestra for a while,’ he says. It was as a journalist rather than as a flautist that Wilson made his mark. He spent 15 years in television – on screen for 10 of them – and several years in Fleet Street, before becoming the Financial Times ski correspondent and skiing every day of the year in 1994 (thus entering the Guinness Book of Records). He also wrote regularly for the FT, occasionally interviewing celebrities for the paper’s ‘Lunch With The FT’ feature. In 2001 he became editor of Ski+board, the Ski Club of Great Britain’s magazine. Wilson, who has four skiing daughters from his first marriage, is the author of several books, but this is the first that is not about skiing. He and his Swedish wife, Vivianne – who were married on the mountain at Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2000 – live in West Sussex, England.
About Big Name Hunting
Arnie Wilson started hunting down ‘big names’ after being hired by a news agency to telephone titled people and charm them into divulging stories he would sell to Fleet Street gossip columns. But the ‘celebrity’ landscape was changing. Instead of targeting lords, baronets knights and their ladies, he was determined instead to find ‘real’ celebrities, persuading them with a combination of cheek, charm and chutzpah to divulge funny and intimate anecdotes for publication. Ten years as an ITV on-screen news reporter reinforced his skill at putting interviewees at their ease, and he started working on many of the columns he had once himself supplied with tales of the famous. Even during 15 years as the Financial Times ski correspondent he kept the gossip tap turned on, interviewing Hollywood stars on the slopes. He chatted to (and sometimes skied with) film stars, rock stars, astronauts, comedians, authors, government ministers, former prime ministers and the odd American president. Although celebrities today are two a penny, he’s still at it, chatting to anyone famous he can find.