Friday, 19 June 2015

Radio Review: 19 June

This shrink’s interviews are therapy for listeners.

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-colour-176This week sees the start of another very welcome tranche of In The Psychiatrist’s Chair repeats on BBC Radio 4 Extra, following last year’s run. It kicks off with Billie Whitelaw’s interview with Professor Anthony Clare, originally transmitted in March 1997. Her devotion to her mentor Samuel Beckett is endearingly obvious in her tone of voice when speaking about him. What I find most interesting about this interview is that Whitelaw, an actress of great intelligence and sensitivity, dismisses the whole acting profession as a ‘flibbertygibbety sort of job to have’ and claims not to take it terribly seriously. I’m not sure I quite believe her, though. I suspect she was displaying a good Bradford girl’s desire to avoid being seen as pretentious.

Clare loved comedians especially, which is understandable because so many would have made perfect case studies. His on-air encounter with Spike Milligan resulted in an enduring friendship and a collaboration on a book about depression. That show’s coming later, which will be quite a treat. Sadly, there appears to be no plan to repeat the Bob Monkhouse edition of the series, where that fascinating man opened up to Clare a little too much for his own comfort, particularly about his disabled son.

Maybe it’ll turn up on iPlayer eventually, along with Clare’s interview with Les Dawson, which should be preserved online for the nation to hear at any time. In it, Dawson talked of going to a pub in Dublin with Clare and talking ‘about psychiatry, philosophy, reincarnation... till O’Connell Street is empty and dawn’s rising’. Dawson died a couple of days after the recording, and it was an obvious source of sadness to Clare that he never got to have that all-night discussion with this bright, inquisitive, funny man.

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email: 

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