Note: This is part of a series. You can read part one and part two here. 

For several weeks, I’d been working on a film about foreign fighters who were taking themselves off to Syria and Iraq, but the truth was, it seemed like a lifetime. Anyone who has served in the military will tell you that it’s all waiting, waiting, waiting, and I was beginning to find television just like that. Only worse.

When I first decided I wanted to build on my success as an author by pursuing a career in TV, I’d done the rounds of all the production companies and broadcasting channels. Many of them were polite and gave me the usual, “Very nice to meet you. We’ll let you know, Mr. Campion,” routine. They invariably never did.

There were one or two exceptions: I appeared on Channel 4’s “Drugs Live,” in which, for the first time in my life, I took a Class A controlled substance—in this case, ecstasy. It was done as a scientific experiment under strictly controlled conditions.

Ecstasy is, of course, the “love” drug that makes everyone all kissy-kissy, wanting to cuddle up, hold hands, and hug trees. Of course, Phil being Phil, it had entirely the opposite effect. About 20 minutes after taking it, I began to feel paranoid, like everyone was watching. Instead of going off into a corner and huddling, my aggressive instincts kicked in. If people were watching, then they were the ones that’d better watch out. I began to prowl around like a caged tiger, looking to lash out at anyone who came within striking distance. Luckily for those conducting the experiment, they sensed it wasn’t a good idea, so no one had to be taken to accident and emergency.

Of course, it all made for good telly and afterwards the bloke in charge from Channel 4 came up and told me about how I was the best thing in the show, blah blah blah. “Keep in touch, Phil. I’m sure there’s a lot we can do in the future!”

Yeah, right.

Several months later, I was finally introduced to someone who was prepared to put the time and effort into getting me on television. His name was Toby Sculthorp, and he was initially recommended to me by the best-selling author Damien Lewis, who had given me some advice when I decided to sit down and write “Born Fearless.”