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I was channel hopping the other night and, being a bit of a closet Trekkie, stopped when I saw a program where William Shatner (good ole Captain Kirk) was being interviewed by Stephen Sackur for his show Hard Talk.
I was left disappointed for the simple reason that most of the talking was being done by Sackur and Shatner seemed to have to interrupt Sackur to actually try and answer the questions.
It seemed to me the wrong way round for an interview. The interviewer shouldn’t take so long to ask their question that the guest may as well be a part of the audience. At one point, Shatner tried to interrupt in an attempt to give an answer but Sackur ploughed on right through Shatner, who eventually gave up and just let Sackur drone on. I was astonished that when Shatner did finally get a chance to answer, he could actually remember what the question was!
I had the distinct impression that Sackur liked the sound of his own voice and was impressing himself by asking complicated and admittedly intelligent sounding questions. The problem of course was that he was enjoying the sound of his own voice so much that Shatner wasn’t getting much airtime and me, the audience (or one of them) was becoming frustrated with not hearing Captain Kirk and eventually changed channel. That, my friends, is the biggest indictment of any program…the viewer changing the channel!
I’ve noticed that, when I sometimes watch BBC’s Question Time program here in the UK, where chairman David Dimbleby presides over a panel of politicians, newspaper editors or other such ‘distingushed’ guest, that Dimbleby has become quite bad at interrupting (just my opinion). Not that the chairman should be invisible as such but he shouldn’t interrupt so much that he becomes part of the panel. He is surely there, yes, to maintain order (and that does require him to interrupt) but also to guide the debate so that the guest’s views take centre stage rather than he, the chairman. He used to be fairly good at this but I’ve noticed in the last few years that he gets worse and worse at interrupting when I want to hear what the guests have to say.
Okay, sometimes he interrupts when a guest says something which seems to contradict the line of the party or paper they represent, and that is good interruption. But other times I’m convinced that, like Sackur, Dimbleby just likes the sound of his own voice.
Please Mr or Mrs interviewer or Chair Person, don’t take forever to ask your question, and don’t keep interrupting. Yes, it’s your show, but I tune in to hear the opinions of guests, which is after all the reason for your show, and if you speak more than the guests, I’ll just change channel. You wouldn’t want that now, would you?
Thanks for reading.