Cherie survives ordeal by Richard and Judy

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The Independent Online

Don't hold the front page. Among the shock revelations contained in Cherie Blair's first ever television interview were the following: "Complaining about the press is like complaining about the weather"; "It's very difficult to be a woman in a man's world"; the chief role of a Downing Street partner is "to support the Prime Minister"; and "just to be in No 10 is such a privilege". She was in the Richard and Judy studio to talk about The Goldfish Bowl, a book about the lives of prime ministerial consorts which she has co-written with Cate Haste.

But for the moment, at least, it seemed that her goldfish bowl was completely opaque. There was a brief moment of excitement when she confessed to "sweeping things under the carpet" but that turned out to be a reference to sloppy housework when she was in a hurry to get ready for the Clintons popping round.

Earlier this week Ms Haste's consort, Melvyn Bragg, had inadvertently pointed the media arc-light at the goldfish bowl with an interview in which he had alluded to "family pressure". As Richard pointed out at the beginning, this meant that their interview had arrived at "quite an opportune time" - though it didn't at first seem to be an opportunity that he was going to seize. What's more, the possibility that Cherie Blair might talk herself into trouble was never on the cards. Richard and Judy are so garrulous as interviewers, so forensically blunt in their style, that it's all their interviewees can do to get a word in edgeways. By my calculation, Cherie managed to talk for just 60 per cent of the 30-minute interview.

She politely repudiated Richard's suggestion that she had written the book to make a statement about her individuality and parried a more probing question about whether pressure had been put on her to end her friendship with Carole Caplin - "Alastair wouldn't dream of dictating to me," she said blithely. "He's the great big cuddly type." The commercial break prevented any follow-up to this maverick take on a man more usually compared to a rottweiler, and by the time the programme returned Judy had, in an act of sisterhood, thrown herself between her husband and his guest with an anodyne question about clothes.

Apparently Norma Major is "a very stylish lady" - a description that many viewers will have filed alongside Mrs Blair's account of her husband's former press secretary. Finally, Richard nerved himself up to touch on the question of Melvyn Bragg's interview - though the closest he wanted to get to intrusion was to ask whether he'd been briefed to say it. Mrs Blair said he hadn't and as they discussed the hazards of buying stuff on eBay when you're famous the credits rolled. Quantum physics tells us that it's not actually impossible for a marshmallow to penetrate sheet steel, just vanishingly improbable. Richard and Judy didn't do anything to upset the theory.