Luck and random trivia help one writer realise his dreams

Roger Keevil Roger Keevil is proof that watching a lot of television can be a good thing

The BBC has not had an easy time of it in the last couple of weeks. But while the press sharpen their knives and sniff around for blood, one BBC viewer is eternally grateful to the broadcaster for helping him realise his dreams of becoming an author.

If it's true that you make your own luck, Roger Keevil has been working very hard. Now a crime writer, Roger's fortunes changed one Saturday night in 2005 with the National Lottery quiz show Come and Have A Go.

Start Quote

On the Saturday evening we found ourselves in the studio at Television Centre, playing the game live in front of eight million viewers”

End Quote Roger Keevil Detective writer

Born with a 'flypaper brain' - odd facts just stick to it - Roger played the fully interactive game show at home with his partner Chris via the red button. His score was high enough to attract the interest of the BBC. 'After a blitz of telephone calls, we knew we were going to be on the show, and on the Saturday evening we found ourselves in the studio at Television Centre, playing the game live in front of eight million viewers.'

It doesn't spoil the ending to reveal that he won a cheque for several thousand pounds and took his winnings to Spain, giving up his job as a supplier of wigs to the theatre, tv and film industry.

Whodunnits

Setting off for the Costa Del Sol, Roger - a fan of detective novels - came up with a plan of devising a series of humorous murder-mystery evenings for restaurant-goers in Spain. The idea proved a hit with a few local establishments - and soon the BBC was leaving a calling card for Roger again.

Living in the Sun, presented by Kristian Digby, was interested in Roger's fledgling venture for the BBC One daytime series that follows ex-pats as they make or lose their money overseas. A short time later, Roger and Chris found themselves on television again.

'The show was not only seen by many of our friends in the UK, who were astonished when we popped up on screen, but also by many other restaurant proprietors in the region,' says Roger. He soon had more work than he could manage and the idea for a book involving the characters from his murder-mystery one-act plays.

'I had already done a massive proportion of the preparatory work without being aware that I was doing it. But as I wrote, I was surprised at the extent to which my characters developed on the computer screen. I could almost hear their distinctive voices,' he explains.

A dash of Agatha

Channelling Agatha Christie, the detective writer chose the traditional country house as a setting, with a cast of characters from a quaint village. It took two years to finish Feted to Die and, in that time, the couple decided to abandon their Spanish lifestyle for a return to unpredictable weather patterns.

Chris and Roger on Secret Fortune Chris and Roger win £50,000 on lottery show

'So many people fantasise about retiring to the sun, and while the Spanish lifestyle can be seductive, endless days of sangria and siesta could become boring. We decided this was not the way for us,' he confesses.

Once in the UK, his book was rejected by several publishers. Getting the novel published, as many authors will admit, was proving harder than writing it. In what has become a bit of a theme, the BBC came to the rescue once again. Secret Fortune, another Saturday-night National Lottery show on BBC One, was looking for contestants. The couple decided to apply and were accepted.

Fortune's favours

'Sworn to secrecy, we flew to Glasgow in May 2011 to record our episode of Secret Fortune, and once again, secret fortune smiled on us - we won.' With his £50,000 winnings, Roger - who lives in Southampton - now had the means to self-publish his book, plus a bit extra. Although self-publishing used to be called 'vanity publishing', Roger says it's now 'the mainstream entry route for many new authors'.

With one book behind him and a number of successful book signings, the author is currently working on his second, due out in February - but he hasn't forgotten who gave him his big break. 'Every time I turn on the television, I say a small word of thanks to the BBC and all the kind licence-payers for making my dream come true.'

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