The ex-Conservative lawmaker is half Scottish and half Spanish, as well as a regular on BBC political show This Week with old sparring partner Andrew Neil.
Michael Portillo was born on May 26, 1953, in Bushey, Hertfordshire, to his Spanish father Luis Gabriel Portillo — exiled as an anti-Fascist republican — and Scottish mum Cora.
His first foray into showbiz was as a child star in a 1950s ad for Ribena.
He was elected to represent Enfield Southgate in 1984 but lost the previously safe seat in the Labour landslide of 1997, an event that coined the phrase "Portillo moment" to signify major political upset.
He returned in a by-election in 1999 to represent the rock-solid safe seat of Kensington and Chelsea and would go on to be Deputy Leader and Shadow Chancellor.
He stood down in the 2005 election and his Conservative Party membership has since lapsed.
After his career in politics, Portillo set off in earnest to establish his media and presenting profile.
After a series of appearances and documentaries, in 2009 he filmed the first Great British Railroad Journeys for the BBC.
In it, he travels across the UK following George Bradshaw's 1863 tourist handbook to explore the impact the railways have had socially and economically on the country.
After a total of eight series including trips to Ireland, the first series of Great American Railroad Journeys, which follows the same theme, was filmed in 2016.
He rides the railroads of America armed with Appleton's General Guide to the United States, published in 1879.
Portillo also presents Great Continental Railroad Journeys on the Beeb, which sees him experiencing what European train travel has to offer.
The railway lover recently hosted Great Indian Railway Journeys, in which he follows the Bradshaw's seminal 1913 Handbook of Indian, Foreign and Colonial Travel.
His latest effort was called Hidden History of Britain, where Portillo explored some of the lesser known histories of our great nation.
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