Waugh at the BBC: the most ill-natured interview ever

The most ill-natured interview ever on CD after 55 years | guardian.co.uk

Evelyn Waugh

He was a novelist known for his quick and cruel wit, his wide-eyed opinions and his indifference about saying the shocking. So a BBC Home Service programme called Frankly Speaking in which Evelyn Waugh is quizzed by three abrasive questioners was never going to be a walk in the country. Today what was later described as the most ill-natured interview ever broadcast can be heard for the first time since 1953.

This is more like an inquisition than a radio interview. I have no idea why three professional broadcasters should subject him to such an inane line of questioning. It reminds me of some┬ádisastrous┬ájob interviews I’ve endured. Perhaps Waugh was unwittingly being lined up for a job at the Beeb rather than for a broadcast. At least his sense of humour didn’t desert him.

Asked what failings in others he could most readily excuse Waugh replies quickly: “Drunkenness.” Any others? “Em [long pause] … anger. Lust. Dishonouring their father and mother. Coveting their neighbours ox, ass, wife. Killing. I think there’s almost nothing I can’t excuse except perhaps worshipping graven images. That seems to be idiotic.”