The Lowdown Hub

Here're 10 best TV interviews will Harry and Meghan’s chat with Oprah beat these, asks Andrew Billen


1. Best for tortured self-revelation

Does John Freeman interview Gilbert Harding, Face to Face, BBC, 1960 Harding was one of television’s first “personalities”, a blimpish, sozzled panellist on a parlour game called What’s My Line? where a celebrity panel had to guess civilians’ jobs. Harding, who told a contestant, “I am tired of looking at you,” played the rude panellist. Freeman was a chillingly urbane former Labour MP who went on to be our man in Washington. In a career hiatus, he interviewed guests to death on TV — almost literally so in the case of Harding who died two months after their encounter of an asthma attack outside Broadcasting House. Under third-degree lighting and ruthless close-up, Harding wept for his dead mother after Freeman wondered whether he had ever seen a corpse. This was widely taken as the affirmative answer to Freeman’s urgently hinted but carefully unlocalised inquiry “Are you homosexual?”

2. Best for trial by television

David Frost interviews Emil Savundra, The Frost Programme, ITV, 1967 By this time the That Was The Week That Was compere had moved from, as it were, the satirical pages of Private Eye to its gotcha investigative sections. His Frost Programme is rightly remembered for its demolition of Savundra, a serial swindler from Sri Lanka vaguely mixed up in the Profumo business. Frost began with a graphic explaining his latest fraud, a low-premium/low-pay-out car insurance racket. Egged on by an audience of angry, and in one case widowed, creditors — “peasants”, Savundra called them — Frost took his defence apart with forensic wit. Savundra remained calm, arrogant and amused, helped by a pre-show shot of pethidine, but his life of crime was over within weeks. As the credits rolled, the studio echoed to “Well done, Frostier!”