Andrew Marr

Am I to blame for Boris’s war on the BBC?

Am I to blame for Boris's war on the BBC?
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Judging by briefings to newspapers, Boris Johnson now wants to come after the BBC, first by turning the licence fee into a voluntary contribution. I hope he doesn’t. And if he does, I hope it’s not because I frequently interrupted him the last time he was interviewed on my show. No, I don’t think it was a particularly elegant encounter and I wasn’t happy with it afterwards; but when politicians insist on delivering the same stump speech in response to almost every question, people in my position have a brutal choice. We either lie down quietly on the floor and allow ourselves to be jumped on (painful: Mr Johnson is rather large), or we have to try, somehow, to stop the verbal torrent and get some answers to specific questions, which can get irritatingly tetchy.

By far the best outcome is for the political guest to arrive with interesting things to say, and confident enough to answer the questions put. Michael Gove, for instance, is rather good at this. I think he’s spotted that for a TV interviewer, there are few things more disconcerting than asking a long, meticulously prepared question, only to get the answer ‘no’. Or, alternatively, after the briefest of pauses, ‘yes’. Another man I’d single out is John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor. Like his mate Jeremy Corbyn, he is now close to becoming an un-person after huge defeat. But I take as I find. And I have always found him attentive, polite and prepared to answer hard questions in clear language. Real interviews are much more fun for those taking part, and for our viewers. More, please.

Andrew Marr's Notebook appears in the Christmas issue of The Spectator