1 NOVEMBER 1963, Page 14


SIR,—Haying interviewed in forty-four countries, formally and informally, for publication in British newspapers and magazines and for 'background' information, as many statesmen, chiefs of nations and lesser politicians as anyone living, I should like to register a protest against forms in current use on television. These seem to me to be near-insolent, patronising, and naive when they are not downright rude.

Interviews we see or hear seem nowadays to lack the much needed study and preparation, the courtesy, knowledge, dignity, and, of course, the

vital teamwork that used to make them a serious piece of contemporary history writing. 1 cannot imagine an interviewer behaving in contemporary TV style for many seconds with Messrs. Kennedy, Tito, Benes, Masaryk, Kishi, Ayub, Nehru, Radhakrishnan, Prasad, Salazar, Peron, Kubitchek, Haakon, Franco, Ibn Saud, Nye Bevan, Attlee, Umberto, Mindszenty, Stepinac, the Emir Feisal, Haj Amin at Husseini, Fawzy, Carlos' Garcia or Subandrio—to name a few I have been privileged to study at close range in recent years.

I was distressed as an author of many published books and a journalist who has represented papers like The Times, Daily Mail and the Contemporary Review, among others, to see the manner used to- wards the new Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas- Home. The 'pushed up' face, the accusing tones, the often near-comical stage effects, would in the case of the privately conducted interview have an instan- taneous sequel, if the camera were not present. The visitor would be told where to go, swiftly, and deservedly. The presence of a camera does not alter the need for normal manners.

I feel it a pity that, in 1963, the style probably favoured by patrons in four-ale bars should be so slavishly followed in the distant regions of higher politics and diplomacy. 1 have' spoken at length, often for hours on end, with the statesmen or poli- ticians named, but they have enjoyed my meticulous silence till they have finished their reflections. 1 preferred to gain a reputation for interviewing them seriously, to secure serious, slowly worked out conclusions on matters of importance to my readers, to the country and often to mankind. But never did

I seek to appear entheastic.