'I'm not your usual sex symbol'

Charlotte Ikonen | Watford Observer - October 31, 2013

Author Helen Fielding recently revealed the real inspiration behind

the character of Mr Walliker at the Cheltenham Literary Festival

Bushey teacher is inspiration behind Bridget Jones' latest love.

The inspiration behind Bridget Jones’ new love interest in Helen Fielding’s latest bestselling novel has been revealed as an unlikely and unassuming 53-year-old history and games teacher from Bushey.

Andrew Walliker, of Avenue Rise, said he thought Fielding was joking when she rang him in August asking if she could use him as the romantic hero in her latest instalment of Bridget’s diaries, Mad about The Boy.

The father of three, who works at the school Fielding’s son attends, said he felt flattered to be asked but is “taking it all with a pinch of salt”.

Fielding, whose son goes to the £16,000-a-year University College School in Hampstead in north London where Mr Walliker teaches, said she thought both the character and his inspiration were “a bit like Daniel Craig.”

Mr Walliker, who used to teach at Ashfield Junior School in Bushey, said: “It’s all gone over my head.

“I am not the usual sex symbol, and definitely do not have any similarity to Daniel Craig.”

Mr Walliker said his family were excited when they heard the news, but have since forgotten about it.

He continued: “When my daughter Amy learned of the role she told me I am the worst kind of celebrity – being ‘poor and famous’.

“I would agree I’m definitely below the z list.”

Fielding recently revealed the real inspiration behind the character of Mr Walliker at the Cheltenham Literary Festival.

She said: “I just thought it was a great name. It’s like ‘walloper’ but it’s not and I loved it.”

She said she tried to come up with an alternative, to avoid “awkward” situations at the school gates, but eventually decided nothing else would work so rang up the headmaster and then Mr Walliker to ask permission.

But Mr Walliker said: “It’s all been a lot of fun – and I haven’t taken it too seriously. The only teasing I have received has been from fellow teachers but it has died down now.”

Although admitting he has not yet read any of the books in the Bridget Jones trilogy, Mr Walliker says he will read the latest novel after the author sent him a copy.

Mr Walliker continued: “To be honest I just feel quite flattered to be asked.”

It has been 14 years since the second instalment, Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason, was published in 1999.

The heroine in the latest instalment is no longer a tragic singleton but a 51-year-old single mother-of-two, since her love interest, Mr Darcy, died. Living in north London and addicted to her smartphone, the up-to-date Jones is having an affair with a younger man and coping with school-gate politics.