Ian Burrell: Victoria's secret: how Radio 5 has got Westminster running scared

Media Studies: Derbyshire will mix it with politicians but can also be sensitive with callers

Maybe it's the Ken Clarke factor? Government ministers have become strangely frightened of appearing on Victoria Derbyshire's show for Radio 5 Live, from which the Justice Secretary scurried out in his hush puppies after a dreadful mauling last year.

Ken's pursuers that day were the 5 Live listeners, after he had been skilfully turned on his heels by the show's no-nonsense Lancastrian presenter over an ill-advised attempt to define rape in various shades of seriousness.

"Rape is rape, with respect," Derbyshire reminded him. "No, it's not," responded Clarke, as the usually unruffled cigar-smoking, jazz-loving daddy-o descended into a stammering defence of his proposal to discount the sentences of rapists, and victims of rapists called into the show to argue with him.

Since that interview last summer, for which Derbyshire has been given one of two nominations in next month's Sony radio awards, the presenter's relationship with the Government has been difficult. "What we are finding is tricky is getting a Conservative minister on to the programme to talk to listeners," she says. "Obviously there is no rule that says they have to come on to our programme and talk to listeners but in the end listeners are voters and it is part of their job description to engage with voters about policy."

This fear of Derbyshire's listeners might be because she has coached them well. Her interviewing style has many admirers, including The Daily Telegraph's Gillian Reynolds, doyenne of radio critics, who describes her as "skilful and patient". But she hasn't always felt the support of her bosses.

When Adrian van Klaveren arrived as Radio 5 Live's controller in 2008, Derbyshire was convinced that he was not a fan after he cut an hour from her show. "I felt a bit under siege then and I thought, 'That's it, the new boss doesn't like me and we are going to have to do something about this because I love this job'. We worked very hard to differentiate ourselves again and focused on long interviews."

She has proved her point with Sony nominations for Best Interview and for Speech Broadcaster of the Year. Recently she has been living with her mother in Bolton, a consequence of 5 Live's move to Salford. The BBC is terrified of negative coverage of its northern relocation and will be reassured by Derbyshire's assertion that it has made "absolutely zero difference" to her show's ability to attract interviewees as "we don't do celebrity or show-business guests".

The key to her broadcasting technique is that she listens to what her guests have to say and doesn't cut them short. She will mix it with politicians but can be sensitive with callers like Rachel, the doctor who phoned in one morning to say she was an alcoholic and poured herself a Guinness while she was talking.

She wants to do things that radio broadcasters haven't done before, like getting a serving High Court judge, Sir Paul Coleridge, to come and talk about his life. Sir Paul revealed that he is one of five judges who ride motorcycles into the Royal Courts of Justice and refer to themselves as Hell's Angels. She is planning a live broadcast next month from an abortion clinic.

Radio 5 was once known as "Radio Bloke" but Derbyshire has helped to dispel that. "It's so ridiculous. Which is the speech radio station that has the most female presenters and production staff? It's us!"

With her experience in long-form heavyweight interviews she must now be a contender for a role on Radio 4's Today – which is still criticised for not having enough women in its presenting team.

i.burrell@independent.co.uk

The former referee who thinks a line has to be drawn

I'm sitting watching Arsenal's game with Chelsea on a live television feed in the company of the former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher as he sends a text to Mike Riley, the boss of the men in black.

Gallagher is the Premier League's watchman, who monitors each game live in front of a bank of TV screens and alerts Riley to any contentious incidents that may result in difficult questions from the sports media.

"I will phone up Mike immediately and then he has a head start – because last season he had to wait until watching Match of the Day," says Gallagher, who also increasingly appears on air to explain controversial decisions.

Having the benefit of instant replays hasn't convinced him that football should follow rugby and allow officials to see replays. But he does want goal-line cameras.

"Number one for me is goal-line technology because everything is about scoring a goal – whether the ball is in the net or not is a fact. Whether something is a foul or not is a subjective decision based on the referee's opinion."

It’s good to see these libel proceedings withdrawn

After his tussle with Ken Livingstone in Thursday's Sky News debate, Boris Johnson has had another bruising encounter – with Britain's "suing judge", Lord Justice Sedley. The judge took legal action over a recent Boris Daily Telegraph column which made allegations about m'lud's supposed political affiliations.

The Telegraph published a clarification but Lord Justice Sedley was unsatisfied and instructed Bindmans to seek costs and damages, claiming "it is not easy to think of a more damaging accusation to make against a judge". It is extremely rare for a judge to launch libel proceedings. But Lord Justice Sedley is a serial complainant and forced a previous apology (plus a charitable donation) from The Telegraph last year, not to mention one from The Independent in 1996. Having been told that Boris had a right to his opinion in a comment column, the judge has thankfully backed down.

News
newsVideo targets undecided voters
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat, dropped out of Stanford University just before graduation to develop his app
techAnd yes, it is quite a lot
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
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
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 Media

Management Accountant

£30-35k + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Management Accoun...

UI Designer / UX Designer

£40 - 60k + Amazing Benefits: Guru Careers: A UI Designer / UX Designer is nee...

SEO Manager / SEO Expert / Head of Search

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: An SEO Manager / SEO Expert is needed to join an inno...

Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

£30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis