HE is the creator and co-host of quiz show Pointless and the brains behind a host of other TV hits — but that is just the beginning of his talents.
For Richard Osman is about to become a worldwide star in his own right — and it has nothing to do with telly.
The Sun told yesterday how the teatime favourite had bagged a £1.1million book deal for his debut novel after a bidding war between TEN publishers. And more riches will follow, with the rights being sold on to America, Germany, France, Italy and Holland.
Richard juggled writing The Thursday Murder Club — about four OAPs who meet every week to solve cold cases in a luxury retirement village in Kent — with his TV work and his other job as creative director of production firm Endemol Shine, which makes some of the world’s biggest TV series.
Now his new career as an author will lift his profile yet further as a most unlikely sex symbol.
Richard, once voted the UK’s Weirdest Crush, was already besieged by declarations of love — but not from who you might expect.
He tells The Sun: “Whenever a beautiful young woman comes along to talk to me, it’s always, ‘My mum fancies you.’ If it’s not, ‘My mum fancies you,’ it’s ‘My grandmother fancies you.’
“But the mums and grandmothers of Britain are the finest people we have so I’m very comfortable with that status.”
Asked if he minds all the amorous attention from the older lady, the 48-year-old father-of-two insists: “I love it. Grandmothers know what they are talking about, you know? They’ve lived a little.”
‘I came from a family with zero money’
Richard certainly knows a thing or two about pensioners because they are the central characters in his novel, due out next year.
He worked on the book for 18 months but kept it top secret, finally sharing it with the world a month ago when he let his trusted agent Juliet Mushens read a first draft before she took it to publishers.
His bumper payday is said to be the biggest debut book deal in the UK for more than a decade.
But he insists that while the money is most welcome, it is the fact people do not see it as just another novel by a “boring celebrity” that means the most to him.
Richard says: “I was writing it completely by myself. I hadn’t told anyone. I was thinking, like anyone who’s ever written anything, ‘This might be terrible — but if it’s no good, at least I wrote a book. I didn’t have any expectations.
“Now I’m over the moon that everyone likes it so much and people will read it.
“I’m weirdly more excited that the Americans and the Germans and the French have bought it — because they don’t know who I am.
“For them, it’s not some boring celebrity who’s written a novel, they just read the book and really loved it.”
Despite 25 years at the forefront of creating TV shows such as Pointless, Survivor, Deal Or No Deal and The Million Pound Drop — Richard is thrilled by his latest cheque.
His upbringing means he values every penny that goes into his pocket through his own hard work.
He says: “Like most people, I came from a family with zero money so I will never earn a single pound that I don’t appreciate.”
He was born in Billericay, Essex, to Brenda Wright and David Osman.
But when Richard was just nine, his dad walked out on the family home and left his mum to raise him and his brother Mat. Richard now recalls it as “the worst thing” that ever happened to him.
He and his brother — who later became the bassist with Nineties indie rockers Suede — moved to Haywards Heath in West Sussex but life was still a struggle.
Before becoming a teacher, his mother held a string of jobs to make ends meet, including stuffing envelopes.
But Richard excelled at school — while also getting his first taste of broadcasting, on BBC Radio Sussex.
He won a place at Cambridge University and read politics and sociology in the year below his Pointless co-presenter Alexander Armstrong.
He later got his break in telly working as a script editor on gameshow Total Wipeout before going on to be a producer.
Richard also worked on Noel Edmonds’ hit game show Deal Or No Deal, comedy panel game 8 Out Of 10 Cats and comedy news hit 10 O’Clock Live.
He pitched the idea for Pointless and became a co-host when it launched in 2009.
He has spoken before of his immense pride at graduating from Cambridge in front of his mum and is now thrilled his book has met with approval from his biggest fan. He says: “She knew I was writing a book but she only read it last week and she enjoyed it. I got the thumbs-up.
“If everyone in the world loves your book but your mum doesn’t like it, then that’s not a good sign, is it?”
'I'D LIKE TO BE AN AUTHOR, NOT A TV PRESENTER'
UK viewers don’t need to look very far to see 6ft 7in Richard on their telly.
As well as Pointless, he also presents quiz show House Of Games on BBC2 and IQ challenge Child Genius on Channel 4.
But his long-term plan is to pack in the TV work and become a full-time author. Richard, who towers over his 5ft 2in jazz singer girlfriend Sumudu Jayatilaka, reveals: “I want to do loads of these books because there’s a million things that can happen.
“I’d like to be an author, not a TV presenter, in ten years’ time.
“But it’s up to whether the public read my work and like it — and hopefully they will.
“I’m very aware that I’ve had a very good run — I’ve been lucky with the TV shows I’ve done — but you’ve got to prepare for the future as well.”
Richard reckons he always had a novel inside him but just never had the time to get it written — and was kept busy not only by his television work schedule but by his two kids by an earlier relationship, Ruby and Sonny.
But he says: “My kids are 18 and 20 now. As any parent around the country will know, one finds oneself with some time on one’s hands when your kids have grown up and left home.
“I had a bit more time on my hands and the writing is something I’ve wanted to do forever.
“When your kids are older you so suddenly find your evenings stretch out in front of you a bit more than they used to.
“I’d never want to go into something without doing it to the best of my ability.
“So I’ve had to wait for my life to open up in such a way that I was able to write.”
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