However, the old-Etonian and ex-convict was a huge hit with his mad capers, his helpful attempts to soap down Alex Best's rear and his battles with Jennie Bond.
He went on to present Privates Exposed, the ITV2 companion show to Bad Lad's Army with great success and his autobiography Call Me Charlie was released in 2004. He also presented ITV1's Saturday night show Scream if you want to get off in 2005. He is also a popular after-dinner speaker and is excellent at voiceovers.
Lord Brocket hit the headlines when he was sent to prison after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud an insurance company. He served two and a half years in seven prisons. The former army lieutenant says his time in prison was something which, whilst he wouldn’t wish to repeat it, made him a much better person, with a much greater tolerance of others.
His experiences form part of his fascinating life story. His father died when he was just 9 years old. The title of Lord Brocket passed to him at the age of 21 when his grandfather died and he inherited the crumbling ruin, Brocket Hall. But his grandfather left him in poverty. Brocket borrowed some money from an American bank (no British bank would touch him) and he set about converting his home into one of the world’s foremost hotel and conference venues. Friends were invited to weekend demolition parties to smash down walls, rewire the electrics and rebuild the antiquated plumbing. Today, Lord Brocket still owns the Hall, in Hertfordshire, which is worth an estimated £42 million. It is rented out on a long-term lease to a German consortium.
At the age of 29, Lord Brocket married his wife Isa, then one of the world’s foremost models. They had three children, Alexander, Antalya and William. But few people realised that whilst they were one of the richest and most famous couples in Britain, their marriage was falling apart and his wife had become addicted to painkillers.
In the Eighties, he started to buy classic Ferraris as an investment. They increased their value tenfold in just a couple of years and his bank funded him to develop a proper business buying and selling Ferraris. Then the classic car industry collapsed virtually overnight and the bank reclaimed the loan – and planned to seize Brocket Hall.
Faced with losing his family home and business, Lord Brocket made what he now says was the most foolish and wrong decision of his life, for which he will always be desperately sorry. He and his wife and two mechanics arranged to have four Ferraris dismantled, pretended they had been stolen, then put in an insurance claim of £4.5 million. In fact, he never collected any of the money because the bank came up with a rescue package and the insurance claim was withdrawn. Nothing would have happened had Isa not later been arrested for forging drug prescriptions and she told the police about the plot. Brocket was arrested and imprisoned for conspiracy to fraud. Whilst inside, he was stabbed and narrowly escaped with his life – and he established friendships and relationships which endure to this day.