Like most of the programming on BBC4, I almost didn’t notice that it had a season of programmes about television interviews. Thanks to the wonderful BBC iPlayer, I was able to hit ‘series record’ for one of the programmes “Talk at the BBC“.

It’s an absolute gem. It is very simply put together, basically a series of best bits from interviews in the 50s, 60s and 70s with no narration or fancy editing, just the name of the interviewee and year of interview before the clip. It is so enjoyable to watch, I watched the first two episodes on my laptop on a train journey from London back to Exeter last Friday after quite a stressful day and it made everything better.

I thoroughly recommend it.

Particular highlights are:

  • any of the interviews with Bette Davis where you are just hooked in immediately by her style and frankness
  • Muhammad Ali explaining to Michael Parkinson why he converted to Islam (second episode)
  • a truly bizarre clip from a series called “A Woman Wonders Why” (first episode)
  • a full on weird and slightly creepy interview with Joan Crawford (second episode) that confirmed my status as cheerleader for team Bette in that celebrity feud!
  • very moving section of an interview with Jacob Bronowski about his experience of visiting Auschwitz (second episode)
  • very funny anecdote from David Niven about his first experience with a woman (first episode)

I can’t wait for the third instalment.

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