Scheduled well after my bedtime was In Their Own Words, a compilation of interviews with British novelists; I recorded it to watch the next day. If you click on the link to the programme it tells you exactly when each piece was recorded and how long it lasted. I disliked the narration but was fascinated by the subject matter. Several of the clips I had seen before, such as Evelyn Waugh being interviewed by John Freeman on Face to Face. Many were quite new to me; I’d never seen or, more to the point heard, Elizabeth Bowen or Aldous Huxley. It was a wonderful glimpse not only of dead authors but of a different culture, one of clipped accents, no holds barred questions (ever seen Mark Lawson Talks To…?) and people smoking while being interviewed. There was no George Orwell, of course, because the BBC wiped all the tapes.
Where today is there a programme like Monitor? You’d think things had dumbed down, perish the thought! (OK, Arena puts out some good programmes.)
A curious feature of these three programmes was that Martin Amis popped up on each one with something to say. I don’t mind that at all; like his father he’s a good critic. Speaking of Dad, here he is. To save you even that trouble, see below for that same 1958 interview with Simon Raven. The presenter is Huw Weldon.