Television nowadays needs to have something happening all of the time. Difficult ideas, debate, discussion, conversation for the fun of it: these seem to be feared and distrusted.
So the BBC’s Talk at the BBC , a 3 part series recounting the greatest hits of chat shows past was a fascinating insight into how things used to be. The last in the series is the only show left on iPlayer, and features interviews with Fanny Craddock, Malcolm X and Bertrand Russell, among others.
Russell’s 1959 interview, which closed the episode, is amazing. Looking like a (very) sober version of Paul Whitehouse’s Rowley Birkin QC, a relic from an even earlier age, he manages to foresee the 1960s concerns with nuclear weapons, peace, love and the environment with great humanity and accuracy. Given that he was born at the height of Victoria’s reign and was already too old to fight in World War One, his prescience is astonishing.
Even if we had people like him nowadays, would we give them the air time to present their views?