One month before he died, Dr Michael Mosley told me he was looking forward to the future. In what would be one of his final interviews, he explained he had no intention of slowing down, nor was he contemplating retirement. Rather, he was determined to keep working “until they tell me to stop”. 

“I’m 67 and a lot of my mates are now retired,” he told me during our 30-minute phone conversation. Characteristically warm, honest and generous with his time, he said: “Neither I nor Clare [his wife] have any intention of giving up work. Why would you give up? Now in my mid-to-late 60s, I am quite happy to go on writing and giving public speeches and making telly and podcasts.” 

The interview had been scheduled for a magazine, in which he was to share his insights into the secrets of longevity and how people – particularly those over 50 – could go about ensuring they remained in good health. 

We had previously corresponded via email, for another feature, but this was the first time I had spoken to Dr Mosley. He was humble about his success and generous with his praise for his family’s involvement in his career. Explaining how his training as a doctor helped with his “knowledge and curiosity about diet and the human body”, he said, “being married to a doctor helps, having lots of friends who are doctors and one of my sons is a doctor – all of which helps keep me in contact.”

He mentioned his excitement about travelling to Australia and New Zealand next year, where he had also found fame, and, as I am a dual British/Australian national, we promised to keep in touch about his Antipodean tour. “Give me a ring any time,” he said, meaning it.

But on Wednesday 5 June, the much-loved TV veteran went missing while he was on holiday on the Greek island of Symi, near Rhodes, with his wife Dr Clare Bailey, a GP. The couple were staying there with two friends who have a house on the island.

After setting off for a walk from the beach, he failed to return and his wife raised the alarm. A search party was launched and their four children flew out to join the effort. It would be four days before he was found dead.

When we spoke on April 30, Michael was full of enthusiasm for the future, explaining he didn’t want to die too young and that he wanted to spend quality time with his family. 

He opened up about his work, his career trajectory and above all how much he enjoyed working with Clare, calling their partnership the “dream team”. “It’s lovely collaborating with your partner,” he continued.

Bailey co-wrote all but the first of his diet books and the pair were working on a book about mental health. “I think that’s a really interesting and topical area,” he continued. He spoke about the importance of having a “sense of purpose”, particularly as you age. 

“I just made a series called Secrets of the Superagers which took me round the planet visiting people who were remarkably young for their age, biologically. And one of the things is having a sense of purpose. There’s a lot of research showing the benefits of giving your time, getting together with friends, that sort of thing,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of men cultivating friendships when they retire. “Men are not so good at forming relationships, on the whole,” he said, “And when they hit retirement, they suddenly realise they’ve got no friends,” he said. Explaining he didn’t want to go the way of his father, he said, “My dad, when he retired, basically sat on the sofa and watched sport and that was incredibly bad for him.”

He said he was also helping Clare with an online parenting programme Parenting Matters. “It’s relevant for parents and also grandparents on how to improve relationships,” he said. “It’s funny because a lot of these skills you learn for kids are exactly the same skills you need for work colleagues.”

The couple had recently toured the UK together on a theatre tour titled Eat (Well), Sleep (Better), Live (Longer), promoting physical and mental health and he was looking forward to taking it to Australia and New Zealand, with her, in 2025. “Clare is game for doing this stuff and it’s great fun going on tour with her, much more fun than doing it myself,” he said. 

He also reflected on his unusual career trajectory and how, having read philosophy, politics and economics at the University of Oxford, he retrained as a doctor, then pivoted to the BBC where he worked behind the camera, before finding fame as a much-loved TV doctor and nutrition writer. 

His mantra, he told me, was to always say yes to things, to see where it took him. “I never know quite where it’s going to go.” 

His television programmes, including Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, as well as his diet books, would change the lives of thousands of people. One of his best-known books, The Fast Diet, co-written with journalist Mimi Spencer in 2013, was – in his words – “regarded as being fringe and a bit mad” at the time. Yet it sold an estimated 1.5 million copies and popularised the intermittent-fasting movement; he would go on to release further books, including The Fast 800, together with an online programme and various protein bars, shakes, soups and vitamins all under the brand.

“It was all wholly unpredicted and unplanned and opportunities just arose,” he continued. “What I say to my kids is when an opportunity is right, say yes, and when they ask you, ‘Can you do this?’ you say yes, because you never know; it can lead you off into unexpected directions. You shouldn’t be afraid of change.”

Michael also had a successful podcast called Just One Thing, in which he discussed simple changes that can improve health and longevity. It was being filmed for a TV show; the presenter said he had been motivated by the loss of loved ones. “Two of my close male friends have died in recent years from undiagnosed hypertension, from strokes,” he said. “At least half of Brits over the age of 50 have a degree of hypertension, raised blood pressure. Unless you’ve had it measured recently, you’re not going to know. You can buy a kit from a chemist or online – blood pressure is an absolutely crucial thing,” he said.

He was also greatly affected by the death of his father from complications related to diabetes.  

It was Mosley’s own diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, at the same age as his father’s, that famously spurred him on to discover how diet can help reverse it, subsequently changing both his health and the course of his professional life. “That is what led me to write a book and pretty well everything that’s happened since,” he said.

“When my GP told me I should start medication, it shouldn’t have been a shock, because my dad had developed diabetes around the same age I was then – 55,” he said. “And my dad died at the age of 74, from complications of diabetes. I shouldn’t have been shocked, but I was.”

Michael reversed his diabetes. “I had seen what had happened to my father,” he said. “He hadn’t seen his grandkids grow up. I thought that’s not a road I want to go down.”


How TV doctor Michael Mosley revolutionised our approach to losing weight

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