Great fun at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival this weekend - everyone from Baroness Trumpington - who took the conversation where she wanted it to go - to Sheila Hancock, who remains a strong, political and a terrifically entertaining speaker.We sponsored two events: Jesse Armstrong, a script writer from The Peep Show, The Thick of It and The Four Lions, talked about his new novel; and Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan talked about their book group, their novels and their lives. However, both talks were less entertaining than they should have been, and the problem lay with the interviewers.Jesse Armstrong was interviewed by his Peep Show co-writer who was so unenthusiastic about being there he may as well have been home in bed - his voice was bored, and he stretched out on the armchair as though he'd already taken a nightcap.Richard & Judy's interviewer gushed about every experience she shared with Judy and forgot the audience was there. Richard had to move her on from talking about her shoes and, with ten minutes left in the interview, she waved away Richard's suggestion that they take questions from the audience. It might seem that anyone can ask questions but not everyone can do it while keeping the audience in the frame. Doing this is a talent, a gift almost. Writing a book or a TV show does not qualify. The audience have paid to be there, they have left home, driven, found parking spots. They have enthusiasm for the subject, they care to be there.Good interviewers, pay attention to them. They are not stuffed cabbages!
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