FROM the West End stage to the election campaign trail, John O’Farrell has enjoyed a successful and varied career that has seen him go from a child television star to celebrated author of one of the best selling political memoirs, behind only Clinton and Obama.

But now the dad-of-two from South London is turning his attentions to the political stage after many years working away in the background for his beloved Labour party.

Growing up in Maidenhead, in Berkshire, O’Farrell was the youngest of three children, going to the local primary and secondary state schools, in between stints on the stage and in front of the television cameras.

But life as an actor was not for him, when, at the age of 14, he caught himself on screen and decided he wasn’t “that good”.

His love for politics soon developed, standing for Labour at his schools elections at the age of 17 and since then he has played a role in every election in some form or another.

While studying English and drama at Exeter University he joined the Labour Party and by the age of 25 he was one of the lead writers of Spitting Image.

He said: “It was a very exciting time and I didn’t realise at the time how successful it had been, but now I look back and can appreciate it.”

There was a brief stint as a stand up comedian but again the self-critical O’Farrell judged his peers to be much more confident on the stage, even though their jokes weren’t as good.

His passion for writing continued, contributing to television programmes, such as Have I Got News For You, and even the film Chicken Run. But books soon became his focus, with Things Can Only Get Better: Eighteen Miserable Years in the Life of a Labour Supporter published in 1998 becoming the number one best-seller.

O’Farrell is still writing now, with a book out now and other projects due to come out soon, but should he win the by-election that would all be put on hold.

He said: “Being am MP is a full-time job and I would stop writing. I have had a varied career and I hope I’ve become a more interesting politician for it.

“I think being a politician is an honourable job and most politicians are honest and hard working people.

“The bad stories hit the headlines but most are working away really hard for their constituents.”

Commenting on criticisms that he is not from Eastleigh he said: “I am disappointed so much of the Conservative and Liberal Democrats documentation is based on council issues.

“This is not a council election, it is an election for Whitehall. If you are a Southampton Football Club supporter who would you want playing for you, the best players or local players?”

A dog lover, O’Farrell has always had dogs in the family and currently owns a Nova Scotia Retriever Tollie, making him a hit with Eastleigh’s four-legged residents. He added: “If dogs could vote in Eastleigh I think I might win because no matter how big the dog, they just roll over for me.”

John O'Farrell factfile:

  • Date of birth 27/03/62
  • Place of birth Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  • Favourite music David Bowie
  • Favourite television Breaking Bad
  • Favourite sport Football
  • Football football team Fulham
  • Hobbies/interests He had a narrowboat which he keeps on the Thames. He said: “I find that it isa great escape and that is where I write.”
  • If he becomes MP for Eastleigh he may consider moving it to Hamble.
  • Interesting fact He has been married to Jackie – “the lovely Samantha” from radio show I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue – for 20 years.