UPBEAT: Invincibly good-natured

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The Independent Culture
Tears, breakdowns, hostility, transference - Dr Anthony Clare, Radio 4's resident psychiatrist, takes all such emotional reactions in his stride. Indeed, it is just such unexpected products of his gently insistent analytical probing that make In the Psychiatrist's Chair, his weekly couch encounters with celebrity psyches, such compulsive listening. It must take a lot to shock the good doctor, yet, as tomorrow's edition reveals (12.15pm R4), there are still a few psychological quirks with the power to take him by surprise. Declarations of 'invincible good nature', for example. 'I'm stuck for words,' Clare can be heard stuttering after an audible silence. 'It is not often I meet someone who's invincibly good- natured. It's not my occupational hazard.' And the incurably amiable analysand? The conductor, Sir Colin Davis, no less.

A canny manipulator of men, Sir Colin not only resists Clare's best efforts to unruffle his calm ('The shadow of regression is behind you like Satan,' he jests at one moment) but clearly touches a raw nerve in his interrogator when the conversation turns to questions of charlatanry.

Remarking upon how struck he has been by the way the same criticisms are aimed at conductors as at psychiatrists - 'In the way, you know, that it's very difficult to be an impostor surgeon, but it's quite easy, I have to tell you, to be an impostor psychiatrist' - Clare concludes, 'But we're only concerned about the bogus if it's a real risk . . .'

'Yes, it is,' counters Sir Colin calmly. 'It is very much a real one with anyone who takes a position of authority - whether he's a politician, or a churchman, or a conductor . . . or a psychiatrist.' A clear case of physician cure thyself?

(Photograph omitted)

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