Arts interviews: Mark Lawson

Interviews with actors, writers, musicians, and so on, can be complex undertakings that make special demands on the interviewer. Mark Lawson is a former presenter of nightly arts magazine Front Row on Radio 4. He has also presented The Late Show and The Late Review.

How do you prevent an interview from turning into straightforward promotion? And should you ever agree to no-go areas?  

Crucially, can you ever safely rely on a researcher’s notes rather than read the book or see the play yourself? 

Impartiality can be tough to police - the arts often deal in contemporary politics and current affairs. And, given that the BBC is a world-class producer of culture, interviewers and reviewers need to keep issues of independence front of mind. 

Mark Lawson uses an encounter with the novelist Iain Banks to describe how he planned, conducted and evaluated an interview for Front Row. And, yes, he had read the book. 


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