The Choice, Radio 4, Tuesday
Outlook, World Service, Monday

Make the most of terrific interviews like these – they'll soon be gone

So farewell then On the Ropes, Between Ourselves, The Choice and Taking a Stand: you will soon be things of the past, ex-programmes, relegated to reruns on Radio 4 Extra, ousted to make way for a Tuesday-morning science strand, the first victims of Gwyneth Williams' need to make her mark as the newish Controller of Radio 4.

Well, the science strand had better be good, because there have been some terrific interviews in those four programmes down the years from, respectively, John Humphrys, Olivia O'Leary, Michael Buerk and Fergal Keane.

The valedictory series of The Choice kicked off with an interview that was up there with the best of that show's output. Mikey Walsh was born into a family of Romany bare-knuckle fighters, and he was expected to continue the tradition. His father began his training when he was not quite five (cue outraged gasp from the excellent Buerk); he'd have to put his arms behind his head while his father punched him to test his pain threshold, "to see how far he could go until I cried" (at which point he'd give Mikey a proper hiding).

Even now, a successful author, with Gypsy Boy a best-seller and its sequel imminent, he sounds sweet and vulnerable. He was clearly a bitter disappointment to his father who put him, at the age of seven, in the ring with an 11-year-old Irish traveller, who was told "to beat the crap out of me".

Mikey's account of gypsy life was simultaneously distressing and riveting, told with love despite the hardships and, basically, abuse. As he got older and realised he was gay – a big gypsy no-no – he dreamed of escape, and at 15 he ran away: "It was almost a live-or-die decision." The only way was up: begging at first, then work in a burger bar, learning to read and write, three years' drama training at Guildhall, and finally his memoir.

Quite soon into the programme you could hear Mikey fighting the waterworks, and he stayed like that. The tears finally came when he recounted a call to his mother: she passed the phone to his dad, who said, "I've got something to tell you: you're more of a fighting man than any of them, and I'm proud of you." The tears weren't just Mikey's, I have to say.

There was absolutely no blubbing during the telling of another extraordinary tale of adversity, on Outlook, the vehicle for another fine interviewer, Matthew Bannister. He spoke to the New York Times photographer Joao Silva, who was in Afghanistan seven months ago – and stepped on a landmine.

"I knew the legs were gone – I've seen enough mangled flesh in my time to make an assessment," said Silva. So what did he do on his stretcher? Carried on taking pictures, of course. Wouldn't you? He spoke to Bannister by phone from his hospital bed, though he has started negotiating the stairs on his prostheses – "It's certainly not graceful, I can tell you" – and you got the feeling that his resolutely matter-of-fact tone wasn't mere bravado. "No point in looking back," he said: "It's a done deal ... unfortunately there's no rewind button – you just bulldoze your way through." I suspect he'd get on well with Mikey Walsh.

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine