The Week In Radio: High and low notes with the Mozart of Madras

Where would radio be, without the probing interview? Television may grab the headlines, as exemplified recently in a fabulous retrospective of John Freeman by Sue MacGregor, by making politicians cry or asking them the same question 14 times. But radio has the talent, intelligence and above all the time to make windows in men's souls. It's the intimacy of the radio studio that draws out the lurking childhood misery or the tension between the public and the private face. Which was why I lamented the demise of In the Psychiatrist's Chair and why I'll also miss On the Ropes, which is being axed in October on Radio 4 to make way for more science.

There's a crying need for this kind of in-depth slot. John Humphrys, on Today, probes relentlessly, but it's hardly the place you want to open up about your addictive personality or sexual predilections. In On the Ropes, Humphrys is a kinder, gentler beast, who wears kid gloves and rarely interrupts. Normally, that technique works well for people discussing their life-changing moments, yet we could have done with a little more prodding in this week's interview with Max Mosley, the former F1 boss who won a privacy action against the News of the World over claims of a "Nazi orgy".

Mosley is a psychiatrist's dream. Being the son of Hitler fan, Diana Mitford, was good practice for surviving stigma, though he said his father, Sir Oswald, "never admired Hitler, quite disliked him, only met him twice and thought he was over the top". When the newspaper story broke he felt inspired to tackle one of the media truths of our age. "Everything you've worked for is pushed to one side by something that's actually a tiny part of your life and blown up to be something that almost defines you." But perhaps because he is intelligent, or accustomed to public interest in his life, Mosley has effectively shrunk himself. It's hard to pick past the facade. He has decided that the best approach is to be absolutely up front about sex: "To me sex is private and people do very strange things," and finds that this deflects questions very effectively. Curiously, it was what he didn't say that was most revealing. When discussing his wife's reaction, he remarked: "Embarrassing isn't the word... and then I've got two grown-up sons," before correcting himself, "had two grown-up sons." It was only later that Humphrys probed the death of his son, to which Mosley conceded: "He had significant drug problems and I've no doubt it made his situation worse, but I don't blame myself." I wanted to know how his son's shame might have compared to Mosley's own experience as the son of a vilified Nazi sympathiser, but Humphrys didn't ask.

Interviews don't come much more high profile than that in Radio 2's The Mozart of Madras, which secured a rare audience with global superstar A R Rahman. Don't say "A R who exactly?" because A R Rahman can't leave home in India without being pursued by fans and is the world's most prolific film music producer, with Slumdog Millionaire to his credit. This week he was up for an Oscar for Danny Boyle's 127 Hours, so Boyle got him to talk. Which should have been great, except that A R is exceptionally softly spoken and self-effacing. He loves Tufnell Park because, "back at home I can't go out in the street, but in London I can take walks and be myself". Becoming a Sufi Muslim liberated him, because: "I stopped drinking, have no social life, nothing, just sit in a studio and make music." He is, Boyle concluded: "A genius composer with the ego of a dormouse; a man who likes to let his music do the talking." Fair enough. But to a good radio interviewer, surely that's the challenge?

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
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
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.

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup