Alex Home

Alex's Moles

Sara the Headhunter

No 1 in an occasional series about the real life people behind some of the characters in Alex.

Sara is the person to whom Alex has always turned in times of stress when he needs to get himself new job. When Alex had a heart attack in 2012 Sara was the second person he called after he woke up in hospital (his PA was first and wife Penny a distant third..). But who is Sara? Is she based on someone real? Well, yes, as it happens..

Sara Tutchener grew up on a farm in Billericay. Her mum kept horses, drove a Mini Moke and was four-times married (or was it five? she was never clear). Young Sara was keen to escape her Essex roots and badgered mum to buy Country Life and the Daily Telegraph for her. Not that she thought the people who read those publications were superior, but they did have much nicer houses, interior decor and paintings.

Leaving school at 16, Sara worked at a stables as a rider and groom. One of the ladies who rode there was a City headhunter who said to her one day “You seem like a bright girl, why don’t you come and work for me?” (Millennials take note: this was how people got jobs back in the 1980s). So Sara became a researcher in an executive search office. Within a couple of years she had moved to London and set up her own firm. One evening she was spotted dancing at Annabel’s by the chairman of a well-known investment management house. He offered her a job as his firm’s in-house headhunter (dancing at Annabel’s was another way people used to get jobs back in the 80s).

Being a headhunter in those days was, according to Sara, “like a licence to print money and have a lot of fun at the same time” - which is pretty much a description of almost any job in the City of London before the Americans came in and spoiled everything.

Alex writer and luncher Russell Taylor first met Sara through a mutual fund manager friend (the friend was mutual, not the fund), at a business lunch in a Thai restaurant in St Paul’s in November 2004. Sadly the friend is now dead and the restaurant recently went bust, but Sara and Russell have remained in touch. At the time Sara drove a yellow Porsche 911, lived in a farmhouse in Oxfordshire and had an old Etonian boyfriend she dubbed the Playboy of the Western World. The fictional Sara made her first appearance in the Alex cartoon the next year and has remained a stock character ever since.

In 2012 real-life Sara was knocked off her bike (sadly she’d sold her Porsche) by a white van driver. She sued successfully for loss of earnings (which for a City headhunter must have been an eye-watering sum) and promptly retired. She now has five dogs and divides her time between a farm in Dorset with the Playboy and her cottage in Cornwall. She dabbles in a bit of investment, arranges flowers for posh weddings and is a self-confessed mediocre socialite.

Sarah with dogs Unfortunately her fictional alter ego is doomed to work on. Part of the problem is that cartoon Sara has never managed to make a penny in fees out of either Alex or Clive: Clive was always too hopeless to land any job Sara put him up for; and Alex just used any offer she got him as a way to leverage a pay rise out of his existing employer.