Media: How Martin joined the ranks of the rich and famous

Martin Bashir has made his name interviewing celebrities, now he's one in his own right.

WE HAVE on The Independent's computerised cuttings library 462 news stories which include the name Martin Bashir. Of those, 455 are dated after November 1995, when the unknown investigative reporter became famous worldwide for his interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.

His story count was boosted further thanks to his interview last week with Louise Woodward and, as with the Diana interview, many of the stories have been less than flattering.

The general consensus of TV reviewers and commentators was that his interview with Woodward was at best gentle.

Little emerged about Louise's character and he failed to pursue some of the most interesting avenues of questioning. Certainly, when Woodward seemed to be hinting that she had opinions of her own as to how baby Matthew sustained his head injury, he changed tack.

It is also said that he allowed Louise to have the cameras stopped when she started to cry at one point, despite the fact that her lack of visible emotion was a key feature of debate about her guilt.

But, as with the Diana interview, much of the speculation has centred on how Bashir secured his scoop.

Last week, one newspaper even reported that Bashir had promised to get Louise into King's College to study law and find her summer work at the BBC in return for the interview.

The BBC, naturally, denies offering anything for the access it received and maintains that Bashir's work on the story gained him contacts with the family and his efforts secured the interview.

Rivals are less generous: "Knowing Sue Woodward (Louise's mother) as I do," says one TV head who has worked with the family. "She wanted her Little Princess interviewed by the man who interviewed the other Princess. She is very media-savvy. She has done programmes for ITV, for Channel 4 and now she wanted Louise to get the kind of status that only Bashir could bring. Still, good luck to him."

Of course, Bashir can hardly be blamed if the journalistic scoop of the decade - securing an interview with Princes Diana - continues to pay-off. But being dusted with the glitter of celebrity has certainly changed the nature of his career.

Until the Diana interview, he was a solid investigative reporter concentrating on specialist investigations. He spent two years working on programmes about Terry Venables' business affairs and on a Department of Trade and Industry enquiry into Richard Budge, the man who bought most of Britain's coal mines.

He went to Panorama in 1992 after three years as a social affairs reporter on Public Eye, having joined the BBC in 1986 as a reporter for London Plus and Newsroom South East. Before that, he had mainly worked as a freelance sports reporter for Radio 4.

He comes from London, is married with three children and has a degree in English and History. None of which could have prepared him for the kind of media spotlight he has endured for the last three years.

At first his celebrity affected him mainly negatively. "I know he went through some awful things immediately after the Diana interview," says one colleague. "Tabloid reporters were trying to pay his neighbours to talk about his private life and there were people going through his dustbins." At one point around the Diana interview he was forced to go into hiding from the press while his wife was pregnant.

And then there was the reaction of some within the BBC to his great scoop. "He was always an insecure person, something of an office gossip," says another former colleague. "Although that makes him just like most TV journalists."

That kind of journalistic insecurity and gossip is what is blamed for what has been described as a smear campaign. Within six months of his Diana interview the Mail on Sunday was claiming that he had secured the interview by creating a dummy bank statement belonging to the former head of security for Diana's brother Lord Spencer. The Lord was in legal dispute with his former employee and it was alleged that somehow the Diana interview was made possible because Spencer was grateful for the bank statement and his help.

The BBC had looked into the case of the fake documents and cleared Bashir of any impropriety.

Yet Bashir and the BBC's explanation that Diana just "volunteered" for the interview, while he was researching a bigger programme about the future of the monarchy, cut little ice with either Buckingham Palace or many insiders at the time. One friend describes the interview as "gained through a chapter of accidents well-exploited", which may be all we ever know about how it happened.

But the Diana scoop was not all bad news. He won a Royal Television Society award and a Bafta. And he has moved into more than just reporting.

He has presented an education series with Carol Vorderman, some episodes of the late night discussion programme The Midnight Hour, and he currently has his own sports series running on Radio 4, Late Tackle. Meanwhile, he has continued doing Panorama programmes. These have all tended to involve "exclusive interviews" - whether of Louise Woodward, of yachtsman Tony Bullimore or of the headmaster of the Ridings School in Yorkshire.

However Martin Bashir secured his interview with Diana, the consequence has been that he has been turned into that most rare of broadcasters: a "celebrity" celebrity interviewer.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn