BBC To Rebroadcast “Frankly Speaking” Interview

BBC Radio 4 has announced plans to rebroadcast the 1953 interview of Evelyn Waugh which is said to have contributed to his temporary madness as described in the novel The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. Here’s the announcement:

Brideshead Revisited author Evelyn Waugh is grilled about his life and career by Charles Wilmot, Jack Davies and Stephen Black. Regarded as one of the most brilliant novelists of his day, Waugh loathed the BBC. His grandson Alexander believes that this interview, along with a cocktail of sleeping draughts, helped to send him “rather mad”. The author later turned his experience on Frankly Speaking into a scene in his novel ‘The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold’ with Stephen Black becoming the character Angel who haunts Pinfold in his hallucinations.

Launched in 1952 on the BBC Home Service, Frankly Speaking was a novel, ground breaking series. Unrehearsed and unscripted, the traditional interviewee/interviewer pairing was initially jettisoned for three interviewers firing direct questions – straight to the point. Early critics described it as ‘unkempt’, ‘an inquisition’ and described the guest as prey being cornered, quarry being pursued – with calls to axe the unscripted interview. But the format won out and eventually won over its detractors.

Unknown or very inexperienced broadcasters were employed as interviewers, notably John Freeman, John Betjeman, Malcolm Muggeridge, Harold Hobson, Penelope Mortimer, Elizabeth Beresford and Katherine Whitehorn. Only about 40 of the original 100 programmes survive. First broadcast on the BBC Home Service in November 1953.

The rebroadcast will be transmitted on BBC Radio 4 Extra on Saturday, 21 December 2019, at 14:15 pm. It will be available worldwide on the internet shortly after the 30 minute transmission. It was last previously aired in April 2017. See previous post.


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