Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'The Interview'

John Campbell, tonight you were a disgrace to the interviewer’s trade.

John, Your mindless, bullying, tirade against ‘moon man’ Ken Ring on tonight’s Campbell Live was perhaps the worst piece of egotistical, self-important, out of control, closed-minded, biased, unprofessional  non-interviewing I have seen in more than 40 years of New Zealand television.

I have no brief for Mr Ring or his theories, but after watching your treatment of him tonight, I have considerably more respect for him as the reasonable exponent of an admittedly controversial point of view than I have for you as an interviewer.

What mattered to you in this exchange was not what he had to say, but what you had to say. And since he thought the process was meant to involve his being critically questioned on statements he had made and being given reasonable opportunity to reply, he had every right to complain when you preferred to deny him that opportunity by shouting him down. It was, quite simply, appalling.

My advice to Mr Ring would be to immediately complain to Mark Jennings, the Head of News and Current Affairs at TV3 about your mistreatment on the programme tonight, and the breach of Broadcasting Standards of fairness and balance which it contained. And, when your complaint is almost certainly rejected, to take the matter to the Broadcasting Standards Authority for their deliberation and judgement.

The microphone is a potent tool in the bullying interviewer’s hand, especially when the interview is not face-to-face and the interviewee is isolated in a remote studio location. Fortunately most interviewers do not abuse that situation. Tonight we saw what has overall been excellent television coverage of the Christchurch earthquake on both TVNZ and TV3 marred by a descent to broadcasting at the level of Jerry Springer. I have seldom been so angry.

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The Finest Television Interview Ever Recorded: Melvyn Bragg talks to Dennis Potter

 

On 15 March 1994 Melvyn Bragg interviewed the playwright and  television dramatist Dennis Potter. The interview was broadcast on the BBC’s Channel Four on April 5. Potter died of cancer two months later on June 7.

Potter smokes throughout the interview, holding the cigarette and lighter between the bunched fingers of his clawed right hand. Like his hero Philip E Marlowe, the mystery writer in perhaps his most celebrated work, The Singing Detective, the playwright had suffered for much of his life from debilitating and painful psoriatic arthropathy, a skin and joint disease which, in its chronic stages, formed lesions and sores over his entire body, partially crippling his hands and feet. He was eventually obliged to write with  the pen tied to his wrist.

Beside his chair in the television studio he has a flask of morphine, which he drinks from at intervals during the conversation to control the pain.

All of this would make the interview remarkable enough. But it is the quality of what is said, of Bragg’s questions and Potters responses, which allows me to call this ‘the finest television interview ever recorded’. Much of a media commentator’s time is given over to criticism in the negative rather than the neutral sense of the word. I thought it appropriate to redress the balance a little by inviting you to watch this small screen gem. The YouTube version is in seven parts, each just under 10 minutes long.

If you’re unfamiliar with Potter’s work, Wikipedia or YouTube are both  good places to start.

Enjoy!

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