Barney Jones Coventry Conversations – Producing Andrew Marr and David Frost

Barney Jones, the Editor of ‘The Andrew Marr show’ and previously Editor of ‘Breakfast with Frost’, shared his unique experiences of producing such well-known shows at a Coventry Conversation on the 13 th October 2011.

Mr Jones started off by talking about the very well received; ‘Breakfast with Frost’ which started in 1993 and was hosted by Sir David Frost and he went on to mention that they had to argue about the title and Mr Jones said: “David was very keen that it should have his name in it” and referred to some of the other programs which Sir David Frost hosted and how many had his name in the title. He then joked that this was so they couldn’t replace him with another presenter.

Mr Jones showed the lecture audience some clips from ‘Breakfast with Frost’ and as he came across one with some of the cast and production team he pointed out Sir David Frost and also himself and smiled as he said: “A youthful editor.” Mr Jones talked about some of the huge names they had on ‘Breakfast with Frost’ and in the fourth show they managed to get George Bush Senior who was at the time, President of the USA. He said that he was shocked the way that Sir David Frost just took a number out and rang the President whilst sat at his desk. He described himself as being “Flabbergasted.”

Written By Alex Maidment – First Year Student

The big names continued to roll of Mr Jones’ tongue as he next mentioned the hour and a half interview with Nelson Mandela who whilst on the show actually stood up and danced to the music which was live in the studio. Everyone laughed as Mr Jones talked about having Lady Thatcher on the show as when asked whether she thinks she got anything wrong when Prime minister, she replied that there must have something but she couldn’t think of anything at the time and Mr Jones described this as: “a wonderful lie.”

Mr Jones continued to describe his time working as Editor of ‘Breakfast with Frost’ by talking about some of his favourite interviews on the show and he said: “One of the most memorable interviews we did was with Clinton and Blair together,” and this was something which the BBC made happen after it had been floating round as an idea and they managed a ten minute interview with the two of them in 1999 and after the interview Mr Jones said: “Frost went off with Clinton and I was left with Blair.” He continued from this by describing how Tony Blair was: “Totally in awe of Clinton.”

The show had Gordon Brown on a few times and Mr Jones talked about how interviewing politicians in the Houses on Downing Street were quite difficult and he said: “(You) Spend so much time worrying about the mechanics of it” and this was referring to the idea that the interview itself often gets sidelined as the production team spend so much time setting the interview up that the interview itself might not get the information that they really wanted.

They also managed to get 10-15 minutes interviewing David Beckham and Sven Goran Eriksson in Buckingham Palace whilst the England Football Team were meeting the Queen. Mr Jones started to talk about what Sir David Frost bought to the program and he said: “He bought to the table his own contacts.” and being how well-known Sir David Frost is, this was a big thing for the show. Sir David Frost had brilliant connections: Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Eric Clapton, just to name a few.

Mr Jones then went on to some of the things that went wrong on the show proving how even a huge organisation such as the BBC can make mistakes. He said: “We did an appalling interview in Durban with Mandela,” and went on to say: “(The) Whole thing fell apart.” referring to the fact they lost the link with the BBC back in London. Mr Jones also said that John Prescott thought it was disrespectful how there wasn’t a special room for just him when he came in for an interview on the show showing how some things did go wrong.

After the ‘Breakfast Show’ finished, the BBC needed something new to replace it. This is when ‘The Andrew Marr Show’ came to life. Mr Jones told the BBC that he thought Andrew Marr should be the new Sunday Morning man. Andrew Marr actually wasn’t very enthusiastic about doing it to begin with but after some persuasion from Mr Jones, he agreed to do it. Mr Jones said: “He’s much more comfortable now than he was when he started.” referring to the fact Andrew Marr was quite unenthusiastic as he enjoyed what he was already doing.

Much like the ‘Breakfast Show’, they have managed to get a lot of big names onto the Andrew Marr show and Mr Jones said: “She’s good fun, Helen Mirren.” when describing some of the interviewees and he also said that Dame Helen Mirren flirts with Andrew Marr. Some of the other big names on the Andrew Marr show include David Cameron, various cabinet Politicians, Russell Crowe, Keith Richards and Mr Jones said: “I suppose the biggest interview I’ve done with Marr was Obama.”

Mr Jones finished the Coventry Conversation by giving all the budding young journalists some advice: “Go for it and go for it, go for it,” and “You’ve got to be determined.”

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