Main content

Robert Harris

Michael Berkeley's guest is author Robert Harris. His musical choices include a work from the Spanish Baroque era, plus Bach, Beethoven, John Barry and Amy Winehouse.

Robert Harris made his name with Fatherland, a thriller which imagined what life would have been like in Britain had Hitler won the War. It sold over three million copies, was translated round the world, and became the first of three films inspired by his books. He went on to write thrillers about the Enigma Code, the financial crash, the Dreyfus Affair, and the destruction of Pompeii. And Ghost, a memorable book and film about a ghost-writer to a politician who closely resembles Tony Blair. Robert Harris's most recent book is Dictator and it completes a trilogy about the Roman politician and philosopher Cicero, a project which has preoccupied him for 12 years.

In Private Passions, he talks to Michael Berkeley about the underlying theme running through his work: what really interests him is power, and the rise and fall of political fortunes. He looks back on the extraordinary overnight success of Fatherland, and its less than enthusiastic reception in Germany. Robert Harris reveals, too, the importance of music when he is researching a new novel, and shares his excitement at the discovery of composers of the Spanish Baroque. Other music choices include Bach, Beethoven, John Barry, and Amy Winehouse. And a rousing extract from a speech which he believes to be the best piece of political rhetoric ever delivered - we hear why.

A Loftus Media Production for BBC Radio 3
Produced by Elizabeth Burke.

Available now

36 minutes

Last on

Sun 7 Feb 2016 12:00

Music Played

  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Concerto in A minor for 4 keyboards, BWV.1065 (1st mvt: Allegro)

    Performer: Justus Frantz. Performer: Gerhard Oppitz. Performer: Christoph Eschenbach. Performer: Helmut Schmidt. Orchestra: Philharmoniker Hamburg.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68 (3rd mvt: Allegro

    Orchestra: Berlin State Orchestra. Conductor: Daniel Barenboim.
  • Benny Goodman and His Orchestra

    Sing, Sing, Sing

  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Mache dich mein Herze rein (St Matthew Passion)

    Orchestra: Munich Bach Orchestra. Conductor: Karl Richter. Singer: Dietrich Fischer‐Dieskau.
  • Manuel de Zumaya

    Como aunque culpa

    Singer: Eugenia Ramirez.
  • John Barry

    London 1946 (Enigma)

    Orchestra: Amsterdam Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Conductor: John Barry.
  • Amy Winehouse

    Back to Black

    Singer: Amy Winehouse.


11 things we learned from Harry Enfield’s Private Passions

11 things we learned from Harry Enfield’s Private Passions

Harry doesn't usually give interviews – but he couldn't say no to Michael Berkeley.

Six mind-expanding music podcasts to download in 2019

Six mind-expanding music podcasts to download in 2019

Love music? Looking for new ear-fodder for your commute? We've got you covered.

Archive Unlocked: Two Decades of Private Passions

Archive Unlocked: Two Decades of Private Passions

Michael Berkeley introduces memorable interviews from Private Passions' archives.