Stephen Fry:I think all the people I admire, are themselves, people who admire others. I have very little time for people who don't have heroes. I once heard someone-quite well known, I won't tell you who it is- say "no, I don't have any heroes". I said, that's naff, not having heroes. I'm unafraid of worship of others, I mean not unconditional worship; very often, they're faults. My heroes are quite obvious, they're very common to people of my age and culture and generation. People like, Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde, they're hard to avoid. The more surprising ones, I suppose would be Martina Navratilova. I'm not quite sure why, it's certainly not sexual, I can assure you. It's not because I'm an avid tennis fan, it's something to do with her mixture of competitiveness... I'll tell you what it is, I'll tell you that my heroes are human beings who are a hundred percent themselves all the time. My heroes don't have that self conscious look about them where you think they know someone's watching them, and they're, in that sense more like an animal. A tree frog spends all its time being a tree frog, it doesn't wake up in the morning saying "am I a good tree frog, or a bad tree frog? Do I do well? Gosh, I wish I were a walrus." They just get on with being a tree frog.
Interviewer:What qualities do your heroes have?
Stephen Fry:I like heroes who are generous. It always saddens me when you find a great artist who is also a son of a..., because it seems naive to say so, but you always expect a hero who's capable of great art or great achievement to have the insight to know how to deal with other people properly and be generous. You read of Dickens beating his wife, you think, "how could someone who exposes the folly, vanity, wickedness and weakness of others so brilliantly, not be more generous and behave better?" How bizarre. If he was a character in his own book he would hate himself.