Before They Were Famous

Before They Were Famous

Series 1 - Episode 1



We don’t need writers. Not in the sense that we need farmers, plumbers or even estate agents. Consequently, many of history’s greatest wordsmiths — all of whom had bills to pay — put their literary flair to some surprising uses before finding success.

Ian Leslie presents this new comedy show uncovering the surprising nine-to-fives of our literary idols’ formative years. With Mathew Baynton and John Finnemore among the guests, the show exposes the bizarre early writings of extraordinary authors and poets, from Jilly Cooper’s abortive foray into war reporting to Hunter S Thompson’s unlikely stint in customer relations for a major American airline.


Ian Leslie unearths the often surprising jobs taken by some of the world's most acclaimed authors before they were successful. Consulting a range of material including archived newspaper articles, advertising copy, company correspondence and gardening manuals, he gives an insight into the early work of writers who would later become celebrated literary voices. From 2012.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Ian Leslie
Producer Anna Silver
Producer Claire Broughton