Paul Keating.

Former Labor PM Paul Keating. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Paul Keating has confessed to being a "maddie" as a political leader, saying the inspiration for many of his biggest projects came from getting as "high as a kite, mad" listening to three or four symphonies on a Saturday morning.

But the former prime minister insists his unorthodox ways were minor when compared with Winston Churchill, who read the papers in bed, had his butler draw a bath and then went back to bed until midday while he was running the Second World War.

"Politicians come in three varieties: straight men, fixers and maddies," he declares in the final part of Keating: The Interviews, on ABC television on Tuesday, insisting the maddies, including Margaret Thatcher, are those who "charge in and get it done".

Asked by Kerry O'Brien how conscious he was of what people would have considered his eccentricities, he replies: "I couldn't have cared less about them, you know, mugs and hillbillies on life's long pathway.''

Mr Keating describes himself as a "shrinking violet" when compared with Bob Hawke, but concedes he has "a healthy ego" and a lot of "earned" confidence.

"I used to say in the cabinet room, confidence is not like a can of Popeye spinach - you can't take the top off and swallow it down. You know, confidence has to be earned."

Like the first three parts, the final instalment will enthral his admirers and annoy his detractors.

Fairfax subscriptions