Top Five Embarrassing News Interviews Part One: The Interviewees

As a media trained journalist I have some basic skills in being an interviewee. During my training I dutifully remembered my key messages, never looked into the camera and tried to avoid sudden movements. It’s tough but nothing an experienced politician can’t handle, right? Well, think again. Here’s five of  my favourite clips of politicians failing spectacularly at other basic interview skills such as answering a simple question, remembering not to insult the interviewer and knowing what your policies are.

5. Jeffrey Archer – “You wait until I’m Mayor”

Blast from the past time time from 2000 as London Mayoral candidate Jeffrey Archer shows his true colours to interviewer Michael Crick. “You wait until I’m Mayor,” he sinisterly says to Crick, unaware that both the mic and camera are on. Sadly, for Archer he was never able to cast Crick as a fly in his evil political web. Instead he had to withdraw from the mayoral race as allegations emerged he had lied in a 1987 libel case. By 2001 Crick would be even further from harm, as Archer  began a four year jail term for perjury. “You wait until I’m mopping out a prison toilet,” doesn’t have quite the same resonance.

4. Grant Shapps – Diversion fail

Using the interview equivalent of saying “ooh, look over there” and then running away, UK housing minister Grant Shapps decides to divert BBC Radio 4 Today interviewer John Humphrys away from questions about the poor state of UK  house building by starting a petty argument over whether or not he had turned down a previous interview request. Humphrys steers him back after an excruciating two minutes of  argument, by which point the only case Shapps could realistically put forward was for a reshuffle to the ministry of lost causes.

3. Bill Shorten – The politician with no opinion

Australian Labor Party politician Bill Shorten has a whole bunch of titles to his name. He’s minister for  employment and workplace relations as well as minister for financial services and superannuation. He must be a pretty shrewd political heavyweight, right? Well, not exactly. When asked about a sexual harassment case involving the speaker of the Australian House of Representatives he thought it perfectly reasonable to say that whatever the PM’s view is he agrees with it, without even knowing what her view is. My favourite part is his claim that being asked for his opinion on this very specific subject “was too broad” a question.

2. Michael Howard – His notorious Paxman interview

In what has become one of the most notoriously bad interviews ever by a politician former Home Secretary Michael Howard fails to answer the same question (relating to a conversation with prison service head Derek Lewis) an embarrassing 12 times.  It’s a painful joy to behold watching Howard desperately try to ignore the “threaten” part of BBC Newsnight interviewer Jeremy Paxman’s question “did you threaten to overrule him (Lewis)?

1. Chloe Smith – Hapless in excelsior.

Treasury minister Chloe Smith seems to have forgotten that she is a public representative and that the voters who elected her have a right to know about government policy and why decisions are made. Thinking that it is good enough to answer serious questions about fuel duty by simply describing her job was never going to get past BBC Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman. She ends up looking like someone who either doesn’t care or is simply not in the loop. Never has the word “hapless” been so accurate in describing a government minister’s performance on TV. Her humiliation begins at around the six minute mark in this clip.

See Also: Top five Embarrassing News Interviews Part Two: The Interviewers

compiled by Joe Lepper

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New Copywriting and Online Content Sections Added

I’ve expanded the content on News and Features Ltd’s website after taking on more online and copywriting work over the last year.

Three separate sections covering my journalism, copywriting and online work, have now been created. The new Online Content section  includes details of  work I’ve been involved in promoting disability and special educational needs.

The Journalism section has been updated to include some recent commissions for clients including Local Government Chronicle, Charity Times, Children and Young People Now and Independent Nurse.

The new Copywriting section has given me the opportunity to flag up my work for corporate and charity clients and includes details of   work I’ve been carrying out for The Disabilities Trust during 2012.

If you would like to book me for news and feature writing commissions or have an informal chat about how I can help with your copy writing and online projects feel free to call anytime on 07731 658672 or email me at

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Meeting The Health Needs Of Children

Originally published in Independent Nurse, Dec, 2010.

In 1980, health ethics expert Sir Ian Kennedy gave a lecture for the BBC, entitled ‘Suffer the little children’, in which he lamented the dire state of health services for children, writes Joe Lepper. Continue reading

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It Feels Odd To Have A Bed At Last

Originally published by Children and Young People Now, Sept 22, 2011.

After sleeping on a sofa for almost a year, Charlotte Jones has secured a supported housing place. But she is one of the lucky ones. Joe Lepper reports.

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Mother care

Originally published by Druglink, July 11, 2011.

Pregnant drug users not only have to battle stigma and moral panic, but also prejudice and confusion among those professionals charged with supporting them. Joe Lepper reports on a new guide which aims to improve help for mothers. Continue reading

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Emotional Overload

Originally published by Social Work Now, May 4, 2011.

Social workers come under intense pressures that can have a profound effect on their emotional wellbeing. Joe Lepper explores the techniques workers and managers can employ to manage the complexities of the role. Continue reading

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Landlords urged to fill housing support gap left by council cuts

Originally published by Children and Young People Now, May 4, 2011.

Landlords are being urged to do more to fill the vacuum in housing support for vulnerable young people that has resulted from funding cuts and  the end of ringfencing, writes Joe Lepper. Continue reading

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