The Third Leader: Shrinking feeling

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The Independent Online

There was a big brain, certainly. And the absolving air of the confessional. And a manner of such sympathy and sensibility that refusal to reveal innermost secrets seemed somehow churlish. But, most of all, it was the voice, with the lilting timbre that excused tenacity and just avoided wheedle.

If we had such a voice, we might be able to get away with something about it now falling silent. As this is newsprint, a more robust medium, we prefer "Radio Shrink Dies". But it makes us no less sad at the passing of such a gifted performer as Anthony Clare.

And, in his media life, performer was what he was and what he was clear he was. But he also had the charm and o'chutzpah to claim most of his listeners readily appreciated that a programme featuring a psychiatrist called In the Psychiatrist's Chair was not psychiatry by radio.

But then he had been educated by the Jesuits. And, more importantly, it wasn't. But it was brilliant radio. We listened as the famous brought along their intriguing foibles, quite often the chief of which was that they would be far too clever to reveal themselves to the Professor.

And so there were a lot of tears, and a lot about mothers. And some said the Professor was encouraging us in voyeurism, as if that were extricable from the media, or life.

And perhaps we didn't learn anything more than that the famous have their difficulties, too, which has always been a helpful consolation to the rest of us strugglers. But it was done with a finesse – and a care – that is much missed.

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