The journalist and broadcaster, who won a landmark equal pay hearing against the BBC, talks to Prospect about her fight for equality, personal regrets, and why she's against fantasy dinner partiesby Prospect Team / November 10, 2020 / Leave a comment
What is the first news event you can recall?
Coming downstairs to see my parents watching Gerald Ford conceding defeat on the tiny TV in the kitchen and a smiling Jimmy Carter winning the US presidential election in 1976. It seemed a moment of such optimism.
One bit of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Ask for equal pay from the start. Challenge more on this issue. Don’t ever assume you’ll be treated fairly.
What was your most uncomfortable on-air moment?
At Channel 4 News in 2003 having to cut short a US military commander giving me a live interview from Fallujah—the first since rumours of terrible civilian killings had emerged. The output editor had airily allocated the interview less than three minutes at the end of the programme. I’ve never allowed that to happen since.
If you were given £1m to spend on other people, what would you spend it on and why?
I’d put it towards a university scholarship or career programme to fund all tuition and living costs of bright students from disadvantaged backgrounds with a view to them eventually going into senior leadership roles in public service/government/running our national institutions. I think they’d shape a fairer Britain.
What is the talent you wish you had?
Speaking French like a French person. Considering how many years I spent studying French I wish I felt more confident. I often watch Macron’s live news conferences on Twitter just soaking up the vibes and the idioms.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I seriously thought about writing to Oasis in 1995 after (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? came out and offering to write some decent lyrics to their excellent tunes.
What do you most regret?
No regrets but I sometimes wonder about an alternative universe in which I had a third child. I was one of three. It was fun being in a little bunch.
What is the biggest problem of all?
Climate change. Shamelessness among leaders, not just politicians.
Are things getting better or worse?
The thing is to focus on trying to always make things better.
The last piece of music/play/novel/film that brought you to tears?
The Punch and Judy Man again on Talking Pictures TV recently. Tony Hancock and Sylvia Syms and John Le Mesurier on top form. A film about the best of…