The original Goldsmith masterclass

Friday 23 July 2010, 17:25

Torin Douglas Torin Douglas is the BBC's media correspondent. Twitter: @BBCTorinD

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Simon Ford said Zac Goldsmith's dramatic interview with Jon Snow on Channel 4 News was described as a 'masterclass'. But the real masterclass took place more than 30 years ago when Zac's father, Sir James Goldsmith, appeared on the Money Programme.

Goldsmith pere was a controversial businessman who took over many British companies, including Cavenham Foods, which made Bovril. The Money Programme had put out a film accusing him of being an asset-stripper and he went on the programme live the following week to defend himself.

The film-maker Adam Curtis writes in his BBC blog: "What happened next was wonderful." He has put up parts of the interview, so you can see for yourself: Goldsmith succeeds in turning the tables on his two interviewers, Hugh Stephenson and James Bellini.

The programme had a huge impact at the time, showing that it was possible for interviewees to 'win' against what was perceived as hostile media coverage. (Though of course in those days, without video and YouTube, very few people could watch it back.)

Have a look at the exchange about seven minutes in, which has eerie echoes of the Channel 4 News interview. "You exaggerated your point by total misrepresentation of the facts," says Sir James. "Can we come back to this week?" asks James Bellini. "No, no, no, no - we're surely not coming back to this week. Last week you made a series of fundamental suggestions ..."

It's hard to believe that Zac Goldsmith was not consciously trying to emulate his father.

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