A quick trip to Broadcasting House on Tuesday to participate in All in the Mind (a well known and regarded programme on psychology) on Radio 4 (Website here). It is a great prog and I enjoyed the recent Martin Seligman episode where he invited Claudia Hammond to ask him a hard question and she did! It was scheduled to be the last of this series and had a really interesting debate on psychiatry as well as a section on Hans Asperger and Gilles de Tourette and the syndromes they gave their name to. As the last in the series, close to the festive period, psychology and wine was also on the menu.
The other guest was Malcolm Gluck, famous for ‘Superplonk’ and now infamous for his new book ‘The Great Wine Swindle’, who was clearly galvanised to plug the latter. I had read the book and so expected bombastic polemic. I am not an experienced broadcaster and tended to defer to Malcolm who was more than happy to express his views. Being a psychologist, I tend not to interrupt people when they are speaking so my contribution tended to be a quick question or brief refutation of his position based on research. I also had a bad throat and sounded a bit like a sealion. It was a useful reminder that our subjective experience of ourselves; image, sound etc. is very different from a media representation which, in a strange way, can be more accurate and objective. I once watched an old friend (an award winning broadsheet journalist) ‘die’ during a tv programme when he found himself unable to string two words together (he also had a good face for radio and looked very grumpy).
I hope the programme wasn’t ‘train crash’ radio and the Producer Fiona Hill gave me some lovely feedback. Friends and family have also been generous and I am aware I have a tendency to be self-critical. However, I would like to develop my ability to communicate research in a more accessible but meaningful way. I love lecturing and am unfazed by large live audiences but something about the BBC studio was deeply intimidating for me. The relatively short interview did not really allow me to warm-up and I would have loved to have been able to make a few more cogent points about the topic. Claudia Hammond was a consumate professional and I hope I picked up a few good tips from her performance though.
Malcolm makes many valid points in his book but the tabloid style and vitriol towards people in the wine trade, who seem to be pretty amiable and ethical individuals, undermines his arguments. He also has a tendency to blame others for being subjective and fallible but then ‘puts his hands up’ to the same (as he did on the programme). I also pointed out to him that it was in my opinion the worst proof-reading of a book I have seen in some time… In person he was polite and amiable, perhaps as many people do, he adopts a media persona that is suited to its function.
Anyway, Merry Christmas to one and all and here’s to a positive new decade.