Everybody’s talking… Or why some interviews are like herding cats

Recently I got to interview one of my all-time heroes. It was an amazing moment for me to get to chat with the person who played a character I loved in films which defined my childhood.

When we spoke to, we were discussing a specific programme which is screening soon with the sole purpose of a feature promoting the programme.

As with many interviews, there was a PR on the line also, which always takes something of the intimacy and immediacy away from a  call anyway. But the interview was made all the more

Herd us. Go on, dare you.

tricky because of the actor’s insatiable appetite for conversation.

From politics to social problems to family values, they took more than an hour to take me through their entire platform of ideas. It was interesting, information and incredibly exciting, but with such a tight brief on my piece, so much of it was unusable.

When I asked about the programme, they were happy to say a couple of lines then reverted

back to a soap box which would then occupy the next 10 minutes, with some incendiary comments thrown in there.

I’m not sure how other journalists handle this sort of meandering, cat-herding chat. Is it somewhere you take the excess material and make something else of it, perhaps if you feel there’s a news line? Or do you just chalk it up to an interesting discussion with an eccentric character?

When we were signing off, I swear the PR sounded as if he may have drifted off, which only served to make my acute self awareness even worse – and wonder if he would have handled it differently.

An hour spent on the phone, a chat which has given me lots of food for thought has, in essence, given me just 2,000 words for my feature, so perhaps it’s just best filed under a good life experience.


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