Lord Winston takes Saga Magazine's Grown-up Test

Paula Kerr / 27 January 2015

We quiz fertility expert, writer and broadcaster Professor Robert Winston, born July 1940, to find out how old he really is in his head.

Exercise, diet or both?

Both and neither, depending on how I feel. I sometimes do and I sometimes don’t. 

Could you run a mile?

I think so, though I don’t run very often.

Flu or man flu? 

Neither is serious enough to stop me from getting into work.  

Medicine or alternative medicine? 

I absolutely have no time at all for alternative medicine or any medicine that is not evidence based.

Your youth back or what you have now? 

I can’t think of anything worse than having my youth back. I would just make the same mistakes again and agonise over them. I feel that you get increasingly happier as you get older.  

What did turning 70 mean? 

Nothing at all. It meant much more to other people. My wife tried to make a fuss but I really wasn’t very keen on the idea. I haven’t really enjoyed celebrating birthdays for a very long time.  

Single thing would make getting older easier? 

In general, older people are not taken seriously and that’s a great pity. Personally, I still feel that I’m growing up. I don’t feel very old and I’m working as hard now as I ever did. 

When and where were you happiest? 

There have been many happy moments, though I’m always happiest on top of a remote snowy Swiss mountain slope, on my own, skiing down.

What makes you grumpy? 

Bad driving. I got very grumpy coming into work this morning with another driver, who stopped, for no apparent reason, then drove at 5mph to traffic lights, which then turned red, when I was in a tearing hurry.  

Home or away? 

Home. I’m terribly lucky to live in a wonderful part of London, in a house with a big garden, where I’m close to my children and grandchildren.

Decade you’re most nostalgic for? 

2000 to 2010 was a very satisfactory decade, during which a lot happened professionally. I wrote books that I’m proud of, I enjoyed being in the House of Lords and medical research was going well. 

Collect anything? 

I’m shocking and collect things that are completely pointless. I collect anything mechanical. I’ve been trying to get a mechanical steam engine to work, to show my five-year-old grandchild.  I collect books, old magazines and plenty more. I’m not good at throwing things away.

Last public complaint? 

I don’t complain very often but it was to an airline, which gave poor service on a 12-hour flight to New Zealand.

Last good deed for the planet? 

I spend a lot of my time trying to do things that I think will be useful. I learned from my mother that being useful to other people is quite a good thing to try and achieve. Years after her death, I’m still finding out about charities that she supported.

First car? 

A 1935 Austin 10. It belonged to my grandfather and he gave it to me.  

Longest friendship? 

There are a number of people from my college years that I still feel close to but don’t keep in contact with as much as I should and I really regret that.

Childhood nickname? 

As a child, Winnie. My oldest grandson now chooses to call me Boing.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  

A scientist, then as a teenager I wanted to go into the theatre but I ended up doing medicine.

School prefect or school terror? 

Terror. I was a very bad schoolboy.  I had the school record for being beaten by more masters than anyone else in one day – four times in 24 hours. It was always for trivial matters. I just didn’t want to obey the rules.

What gets you on a dance floor? 

It would have to be the quadrille.

Anyone you’d like to say sorry to? 

Above all, to all the anxious patients I didn’t take seriously enough.

How do you relax? 

I’m really quite lazy and find it easy to relax. I read and listen to music. I love football, though watching my team, Arsenal, play a match, is not relaxing.

Bad habit you can’t break? 

Getting bad tempered in my car. 

What did your parents teach you? 

To be open to everything.

Two people from the past you'd like to sit next to at dinner

Mark Jackson, a doctor I qualified with in 1964, and my paternal grandfather who taught me so much. 

Greatest love? 

My family, definitely.

If you could unsay one remark? 

There are an awful lot to choose from, although ultimately you can’t regret what you’ve said. I have often said things that have embarrassed me but they always had an element of truth.

Two main lessons in life? 

To greet everyone in a pleasant way. I’m not good at doing that, though I recognise that first impressions are very important. Also that I must be prepared to listen and I’m still learning to do that.

What was your Plan B? 

I had a Plan B, a Plan C, a Plan D and a Plan E! I like keeping my options open. 

Hope for the future? 

We are growing ever more responsible towards our planet and those around us and my hope is for that to continue.


After a thorough examination we diagnose you to be an energetic, youthful 63.

Visit Lord Winston's official website here

Professor Winston personally answers fertility questions online at genesisresearchtrust.com. The service is free, though there is an opportunity to donate to the charity. 

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.