'None of their punches was ever likely to connect'

When Richard and Judy hit OJ with hard facts, he just denied them, writes Tom Sutcliffe

The big question was - would he get away with murder? To which the short answer was, not entirely.

Giving his first interview on British television since his acquittal for the murders of his wife, Nicole, and Ron Brown, OJ Simpson might have been cheered to discover that his interrogators were to be Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, presenters more famed for tea and sympathy than ruthless forensic rigour.

In the event, though, most of the tough questions were asked with a nervous determination that occasionally bordered on panic. There was no doubting who was on trial here - making a break for prime-time and introducing "the most controversial person we've ever interviewed" Richard and Judy had just 15 minutes to convince us of their competence.

They cunningly skirted the first obvious hurdle - the vexed question of how you introduce a man recently cleared of murder, a man of whose innocence some audience members will be less than convinced.

Traditionally, talk show hosts give their guests an applause-begging crescendo, voice cresting to the name. But notoriety demands a different etiquette than fame and who can be entirely sure which branch of celebrity OJ now occupies? Slyly, they slipped him on to the sofa under the cover of a jazzy sequence recapitulating the case - when it finished he was in place and ready to go, deprived of the welcome (Neil Diamond, who appeared after the break, was granted a more conventional entrance).

The bid for sympathy came very early - asked why he was fleeing in the Bronco, OJ shared his pain: "My favourite person had been brutally murdered . . . I was being attacked for the first time in my life . . . I was hurting". He hadn't been escaping at all, he said, merely visiting Nicole's grave. There wasn't much that his interviewers could do in the face of such assurance, which set the tone for everything that followed - though a tiny bead of sweat soon formed on Simpson's top lip, though he grimaced at Nicole's name, there was no question who remained in command.

Where they had to rush, pressed by the idiotic compression of the interview, he could take his time - getting some more wear out of the arguments that had cost him so much. Their knowledge of the case against could not possibly equal his knowledge of the case for - he had spent two years of his life rehearsing.

Besides, when facts were inconvenient, he simply denied them: "She did not say that," he replied when questioned about Nicole's claim that he might kill her - despite the fact that many of those watching can probably still hear that frightened phone call in their heads. Judy Finnigan's hands were shaking, the tremor of someone clutching at a cliff with no handholds.

"Tell us about the nice Nicole, tell us about the Nicole you loved," they said. It was a dummy, designed to lead Simpson into the uppercut of a hard question about his beatings. But none of their punches was ever likely to connect. They looked visibly sick as they endured the G-force inflicted by the swerve from unsolved murder to Neil Diamond's chart success. Diamond played a number and got the publicity he wanted. Exactly like the man who preceded him.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
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 General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears