What it was like to interview Boris, by Richard Danbury, age 35 and a half
Boris the Turk
The location was the tricky bit. Boris was quite clear that he didn’t want to be recorded in the Carlton Club, suitably Tory but unsuitably stuffy for him, but it was the best location. He offered the library at the Spectator which was splendid but tiny. He then offered his office in Parliament, which was splendid but painted an institutional grey with a white electrical conduit just at eye level – on camera, it would have looked as if his head had been skewered. I tried the Saatchi gallery but they were too expensive, and anyway didn’t allow in cameras on tripods, so the Cabinet Room at the Carlton Club it was.
I think he thought I was trying to stitch him up, but I wasn’t. I was just trying to make it look interesting enough that someone would want to spend half an hour watching. He got more nervous when he noticed that his chair was right underneath the gaze of Margaret Thatcher, and around the room were oils paintings of other Tory grandees through the ages. But I was just after the dash of gold from the frames to match his hair, and the deep colour of the room to create an atmosphere.
The make up was also tricky, come to that. You need make up on camera or you look shiny, and we’d hired a make up lady to help with Boris. He didn’t like it at all. She tried to brush his hair and almost immediately his hand un-brushed it. She tried to dust him with powder but he squinted up at her as if she was trying to empty a Hoover bag over him.
And then the interview came. Kirsty likened Boris to Arnold Swartzenegger, and he compared himself with Alexander the Great. He told us he was passionate about the arts and we wondered whether it was possible to be Front Bench spokesman on the Arts and Editor of the Spectator without compromising either. And when asked about Tory policy on immigration, Boris revealed his guilty secret. What is it? Watch BBC4 Tuesday at 23.30 to find out. Listings here.