The Week In Radio: Shooting star almost got the brush-off

I’ll only give you an interview if you go to bed with me,” is not the kind of line a journalist hears much nowadays. Or perhaps I don’t get out enough. But whereas a request like this today would have broadcasting apparatchiks in a frenzy over harassment procedure, back in 1972 it didn’t faze David Bailey. It didn’t even bother him that it was Andy Warhol asking. He said yes, and the resulting surreal documentary made history, entertainingly recounted in Radio 4’s When Bailey Met Warhol.

It is only when you hear an amateur do it – or when you get fiascos like this week’s Radio 1 BNP affair – that you remember how much interviewing is an art. Unfortunately for Bailey, Warhol favoured what he liked to call the “anti-interview”. Exchanges between the two ran thus: “Is there anything special you’re trying to say in your films?” “Er no”. “Do you have any fantasy?” “Er no.” Circumventing this kind of response by asking questions beginning “how” “what” “where” and “why” is the first lesson junior journalists learn at hack school. But Bailey was not a journalist, and besides, he didn’t really care about the words. “I was pleased if Andy said good morning,” he commented airily. “That was probably all he was going to say that day.” The bed scene itself was “not very sexual”. Bailey was naked, but Andy kept his clothes on because of the scars from the time he was shot. He said his body looked like a Dior dress from all the stitches.

The BBC chose Jerry Hall, with her curiously Texas-meets-Twickenham accent, to recount Bailey’s hilarious attempt to make a documentary for ATV. Andy’s acolytes included Bridget, a woman who painted with her breasts (don’t even think about fine motor control) and a girl who was pioneering “flush art”, which consisted of taking a Polaroid then popping it in the loo until it went blurry.

It goes without saying the film was banned. Ross McWhirter and Mary Whitehouse got on board and Lord Denning granted an eleventh-hour injunction. The resulting censorship row was the biggest since Lady Chatterley’s Lover and kicked off issues about regulating television that have never really gone away. One objector noted there was a big difference between being forced to watch filth in your sitting room and “seeing it at the cinema down the road where you have to put your hat and coat on and go and pay”. Love that hat and coat.

The curious thing about much of Archive On 4 is how it feels like history despite being comparatively yesterday. This was 1973, for goodness’ sake! I know parents have to get used to kids asking about the olden days when they mean the 1990s, but there is nothing like wearing a hat and coat to the cinema to make 1973 seem like another age.

The thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history, as George Bernard Shaw said, but the BBC can’t be accused of not trying. The airwaves are awash with history right now with varying degrees of success. Although I deeply admire John Tusa, his daily five-minute chunks of life 20 years ago, 1989: Day-By-Day, on Radio 4 feel far too snatched to make a connection. Some things are not fascinating, just because archive footage is available. 1989 was a momentous year but does one really want to be reminded of its news and cultural agenda every day? By contrast, another daily retrospective, Amanda Vickery’s fabulous A History Of Private Life on Radio 4 provokes no such heresies. Much of it taken from diaries and letters, these delicious snippets into the etiquette of tea, or the hiring of servants, or what to do about bad breath, feel like forbidden glimpses behind the arras of history. As Vickery points out, the importance of the past lies just as much in relationships and private rituals as in universities, parliament and war.

The man we have to thank for all this is Herodotus of Halicarnassus, a Greek of the fifth-century BC who was the first to have a stab at documenting events and organising them into a narrative. We get the word History from his “inquiries”. In Radio 3’s The Researches Of Herodotus, he was majestically played by Anton Lesser, who wrestled heroically with a Greek restaurant muzak soundtrack and generally got the better of it. Herodotus wrote his “inquiries” about the Persian wars “so all those exploits significant and astounding between the Greeks and Persians may be kept in the public eye and I may trace the various causes that led them to war.” Ultimately, what |he discovered was that Asia and Europe were just “two continents fated to go to war”. Strange how Mary Whitehouse seems like ancient history yet Herodotus |just seems bang up to date.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
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.

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?