This article first appeared on Reaction.Life
Full Disclosure podcast with James O’Brien, Global Radio
If the title of the podcast if ‘Full Disclosure’ I’d better disclose that James O’Brien is a colleague of mine on LBC, and Global Radio are the publishers of my own podcasts.
I want to write about James’s podcast because it is a good example of how the long form interview both entertains and enlightens. Each episode is normally an hour long, and James interviews a mixture of guests from the worlds of media, entertainment and politics. He has time to get to know them and get inside their heads. Like all good long form interviews, they’re less like interviews, more like conversations. He’s not looking for ‘gotcha’ newslines, although if one emerges he’ll happily grab it. When you interview someone for anything between 40 and 60 minutes, the guests – however shy, however big a name they are – starts to relax into it. And after a while they run out of their standard lines which they trot out in shorter interviews. That’s why it’s always a good idea to listen to the end because you might miss out on the best bit if you don’t.
James is sometimes accused by his critics of being an impatient listener on his morning LBC show, having little time for people who give their opinions with little evidence to back them up. He exploits any opportunity to slice and dice any listener who isn’t fully briefed and prepared to provide evidence for what they are asserting. On the podcast, it’s very different. He listens, he cajoles, he encourages his guests to give of themselves. His reputation as not suffering fools gladly doesn’t prevent him from getting some very big name guests indeed. Guests on recent episodes have included Caitlin Moran, Kathy Burke, Daniel Radcliffe, Jess Phillips, John Bercow and Ed Miliband. He has had centre-right guests on, but they have been of a certain type – Matthew Parris, Michael Heseltine, Ken Clarke and Rory Stewart – and, er, that’s it. I’d love to see him interview people he vehemently disagrees with on all sorts of issues and see if there can ever be a meeting of minds.
That’s really the only slight weakness of this podcast is that it can be slightly echo-chambery, with guests who seem to emanate from the same liberal-left gene-pool. That is a minor carp, though, because it never fails to provide an entertaining listen on my commute.
LBC listeners always seem to imagine that James O’Brien and I can’t stand each other and that we’re constantly at daggers drawn. Oh, how they wish. Just because we vehemently disagree on Brexit does not mean we can’t have a friendly relationship. It’s one of the main messages in my book, Why Can’t We All Just Get Along, which was published yesterday. If we all live in our own little echo chambers we cannot possibly understand the arguments we have to counter in a debate. If we don’t understand where someone’s coming from how can we put together an effective counter argument. Just listening to people you agree with is boring. And no one can accuse James O’Brien of being boring.
Coronation Street, ITV
Lockdown has provided a huge challenge to soaps, especially Coronation Street, given that there are normally five episodes a week. This has been reduced to three. Filming is usually done four or five months in advance, so Coronavirus has only just entered the scripts.
Coronation Street has a very strong record in taking up social causes including child grooming, rape and homosexuality. One of the main story lines has concerned coercive control. Geoff Metcalfe, played by Ian Bartholomew, is to all intents and purposes a genial sixty-something. A couple of years ago he married Yasmeen Nazir, played by Shelley King and everyone thought they would live happily ever after. Not in soapland. Over time Geoff became very controlling. He wouldn’t allow her to have her own money. He constantly complained she didn’t clean the house well enough. Every meal was wrong. She turned from being a strong woman and a matriarch figure into a bit of a shrew. She then discovered Geoff had been using escorts, and that he had contracted an STD, which he then blamed on her and convinced her the whole thing was actually her fault. It all came to a head when he had goaded her so much that she grabbed a wine bottle, turned around and hit him with it. It nearly killed him. I won’t give any more spoilers, because the story line is not yet over, despite the fact that she is in prison on bail awaiting trial. There’s been a big twist in the plot in the last week.
This storyline, like many in today’s soaps, may have dragged on for rather too long, but it’s right that the show has covered the issue of coercive control, and done it so well. Congratulations to the researchers who have enabled the scriptwriters to cover the subject in such a professional manner.
Why Can’t we all Just Get Along by Iain Dale is out now in hardback at £12.99. Signed copies available at http://www.politicos.co.uk.