Election '97: Media Watch: Dimbleby too tough on Blair, say Labour voters

The BBC's switchboard was swamped with calls from Labour Party supporters complaining about David Dimbleby's questioning of Tony Blair in his first big interview of the election.

Mr Dimbleby deliberately adopted glasses and a short haircut to give himself a headmasterly manner to conduct his most aggressive interview, according to experts in the black arts of television interviewing.

"That was the toughest David Dimbleby has ever been," said Des Wilson, former Liberal Democrat spin doctor.

"You got the feeling that the BBC thinks Blair has given few big interviews and may have ducked out of the debate, so they were determined to make sure they put him to the test."

Mr Wilson claims Mr Dimbleby's attitude was apparent in his remark that Mr Blair was "relatively young". "He was like the headmaster with the insubordinate prefect right from the starting gun," he said.

Westminster insiders have speculated that Mr Dimbleby has been stung by comparisons with the popular and aggressive Newsnight presenter, Jeremy Paxman, and Today's John Humphrys, and has adopted a more aggressive interviewing technique. The BBC denies there has been a change of style.

Mr Wilson believes Mr Dimbleby is a tougher interviewer than he is generally given credit for. "Because he is mild mannered and doesn't sneer at you, Dimbleby doesn't attract attention, but he is very sharp.

"But by dragging up his record from 10 or 12 years ago, he played into Blair's hands. Blair could then turn it into a list of how much Labour has changed. A Panorama spokesman, John Steel, said: "Some of the calls to the duty officer claimed that we were too soft on him, that it was a party political broadcast for Labour, so we cannot win."

"Politicians receive considerable media training and coaching and are adept at not answering questions they don't want to answer. So we need to find equally effective ways of making sure they do answer."

Michael Barratt, the former presenter of Nationwide who runs a media training agency for businessmen, said: "You give someone media training to get them to tell the truth and get their message across. But then I don't train politicians."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a number ...

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Coordinator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Coordinator is required to join a...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Software House - PRINCE2, PMP

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A dynamic, customer oriented Pr...

Recruitment Genius: Relationship Sales Advisor

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an inbound relationship...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate