Top Ten... Political interviews

Written by 17 Dec 2010 on 17 December 2010 in Culture
Our pick of the most revealing and amusing on-the-record chats

Sir David Frost & Tony Blair
As the only person to have interviewed eight British PMs and seven American presidents, one of David Frost's greatest scoops was Tony Blair's 2000 revelation that Britain would match European health-spending levels. The result saw New Labour shift to bigger spending. Brown was furious that Blair had announced this on Frost's sofa.

Jeremy Paxman & Michael Howard
Paxman's interview with Howard on Newsnight in 1997 became legendary, not because of the issue, whether Howard had threatened to overrule the Prison Service, but because Paxo asked Howard the same question 12 times.

Robin Day & Harold Macmillan
The Daily Express called Day's 1958 interview with prime minister Harold Macmillan: "The most vigorous cross-examination a prime minister has been subjected to in public." The interview turned Macmillan into a television personality.

John Humphrys & Harriet Harman
Famous for his forthright interviewing technique, in April 2008 Humphrys criticised deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman after she defended her decision to wear a stab proof jacket while touring her South London constituency.

Andrew Marr & Gordon Brown
Marr provoked criticism for his last question during an interview with prime minster Gordon Brown at the 2009 Labour Party conference. Marr asked if the PM used prescription drugs to help him "get through". Marr defended his question as "reasonable, asked politely... to see if he would open up."

Brian Walden & Margaret Thatcher
In November 1989, Walden asked Thatcher if it was her "domineering" personality that was making her party turn against her. Thatcher replied: "Brian, if anyone's coming over as domineering in this interview, it's you."

Jon Snow & Zac Goldsmith
The new Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith appeared on Channel 4 News in July 2010, to defend his spending in the election. The interview descended into a full blown row with Goldsmith branding Snow as a "charlatan".

Parkinson, Prescott & Phil Collins
After John Prescott's interview on Parkinson, the deputy prime minister stayed on stage as Parky started interviewing legendary musician Phil Collins. However, Prezza frequently interrupted and at great length until an exasperated Parkinson finally pleaded: "May I have my guest back, please?"

Eddie Mair & John Hutton
In 2009, Mair's gentle persistence resulted in Hutton's confi rmation that he was the cabinet minister who, in September 2006, said Gordon Brown "would be a fucking disaster" as prime minister.

Martin Popplewell & David Cameron
In a pre-election interview with Gay Times, the usually well-briefed Cameron slipped up as he seemed to suggest MPs should be allowed to vote against laws which uphold homosexuality as a basic human right. Cameron asked for the interview to be restarted.

This article was first published in Total Politics magazine.

Tags: Issue 31, Top ten...

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