Modern Writers | Interviews with remarkable authors
CHANNEL | BBC 2
FIRST BROADCAST | 08 February 1966
DURATION | 27 minutes 20 seconds
In this extended interview, John le Carre talks to Malcolm Muggeridge about his writing and the main influences on his work. Although their conversation covers much about the author's career and ambitions (with the notable exception of any mention of his time as a spy), much of the interview looks at the modern phenomenon of the secret service agent as a hero. In a revealing insight, Le Carre explains that his dislike of James Bond stems from the fact that Bond doesn't exist in a political context, making him more of an 'international gangster' than a spy.
In this interview, although Malcolm Muggeridge talks about his own, very brief, period of spying, John le Carre remains close-lipped about his (much more extensive) career in espionage. Le Carre (real name David Cornwell) began working for MI5 in 1952 and transferred to MI6 in 1960. There he remained until 1964, when a combination of Kim Philby's defection, which exposed many British agents, and his own growing success as a novelist caused him to leave the secret service. Le Carre remained secretive about his former career for many decades.
Virginia Woolf describes the mysterious demands and duplicity of words.
Malcolm Muggeridge quizzes Somerset Maugham on his top ten novels.
The importance of creating strong characters in fiction.
The writer ponders the success of 'Lucky Jim' and his latest novels.
John Lehmann explores the 'brave new world' of Aldous Huxley.
The creator of Jeeves and Wooster talks about his writing life.
EM Forster, in Cambridge, reflects on his life and work.
Arthurian legend and English traditions explored.
The author of 'Lord of the Flies' discusses his work and influences.
'I'm a person who rather thrives on being a foreigner.'
John Wyndham discusses the nature of evil in his novels.
Debating the artistic conflict between freedom and form.
Strong opinions from the author of 'The Alexandria Quartet'.
The author of 'I, Claudius' converses with Malcolm Muggeridge.
The false and lonely world of the writer.
A portrait of the artist as a young woman.
The views of the author and Oxford's students on Tolkien's Middle-earth epics.
A rare interview with Daphne du Maurier.
Braine's passionate defence of the ordinary and the suburban.
Muriel Spark talks to W Gordon Smith at her elegant home in Rome.
Truth and sadness in fiction.
The novelist, journalist, literary critic and feminist talks about her life and loves.
Melvyn Bragg talks to John Fowles at his home in Lyme Regis.
Melvyn Bragg meets the author of 'The Ipcress File'.
Moving on from short stories to novels.
Doris Lessing describes a life spent in unwilling judgement of civilisation's flaws.
Can Dr Anthony Clare cure Beryl Bainbridge's case of writer's block?
Paul Allen speaks to the creator of 'Billy Liar'.
The emotional forces driving the work of Anthony Burgess.
Studying the secrets revealed by tragedy.
Refusing to write about the bourgeoisie and their cleaning ladies.
The making of a modern novelist.
The perception and scrutiny that drive a great writer.
Jeanette Winterson talks openly to Jeremy Isaacs.
'The novelist of her generation who will last.'
The Booker Prize-winner and art critic discusses his work.
The Booker Prize-winning novelist discusses her work.
The author of 'Moon Tiger' discusses her work.
A wide-ranging interview with the author of 'Birdsong'.
Philip Pullman explains 'His Dark Materials'.
James Naughtie speaks to Salman Rushdie about 'Midnight's Children'.
Yann Martel speaks about his award-winning book 'Life of Pi'.
The author of 'The Regeneration Trilogy' talks about her books.
A wide-ranging interview with the Nobel Prize-winning author of 'Beloved'.
Andrew Marr interviews Kazuo Ishiguro.
The novelist discusses 'The Buddha of Suburbia'.
The 'chick-lit' writer talks frankly about her life and career.
The author of 'Brick Lane' on sudden success and the myth of the difficult second novel.
Zina Saro-Wiwa interviews writer David Mitchell.
The author of 'Notes on a Scandal' discusses what fiction is all about.
Philip Dodd speaks to Zadie Smith, author of 'White Teeth'.
The writer looks back over his life and prolific career.
The author discusses why thinking matters just as much as feeling.
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