Alan Whicker was 90 last week and AA Gill paid tribute in Culture. “He is one of the handful of really great TV journalists who combine a solid reporter’s skill with a brilliantly timed dry humour and meticulous delivery. Whicker’s abiding craft was to make nature programmes about people”.
“He viewed plutocrats and despots, the hoplessly rich and haughty, the vain and the snobbish, and elegantly and gently skewered them on their own hubris. Whicker’s interviews and observations were like a matador teasing out alpha bulls”.
Having been fortunate to work with him on a couple of occasions I have seen the ‘skewering and teasing out’ in action. The secret lay in his uncanny ability to listen! He did this so powerfully and so naturally, making the interviewees feel they were uniquely interesting, that confessions were inevitable.
In the lead up to any pitch really listening to the client’s needs, and issues, and not leaping to conclusions is essential, avoiding the error well expressed in this quote by an Albert Guinon 1863- 1923 :
“There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves”.