After boycotting BBC Radio for two years, Boris Johnson gives an interview to the Today programme. It’s safe to say he won’t be back for at least another two years.

Boris Johnson was interviewed on BBC radio 4, the Today programme, this morning. Johnson has not been on the BBC radio’s flagship news programme for two years since he started a boycott of it, allegedly due to it’s pro-remain, anti-Tory bias. Robinson did not let him forget this fact.

The interview was quite tetchy due to this and perhaps due to the contrasting styles of the two interlocutors. Robinson, the interviewer, frequently interrupts his guests, often mid-sentence, and doesn’t endure equivocation from politicians. Johnson has a somewhat rambling, bombastic style and likes space in the discourse to finish his points.

I have transcribed twelve turn transitions which are the most interesting points. These represents fights for control of the floor and the direction of the discourse. At one point, Robinson even lectures the Prime Minister to ‘stop talking’ as if he were a pupil in class. Listen to the audio below and read the transcript at the same time to see which of these two battle-hardened conversationalists wins the day. It is probably fair to say that Johnson won’t be back on the Today programme for at least another two years!


PM = Prime Minister (Boris Johnson)
NR = Nick Robinson (interviewer)

PM: er stresses and strains
    there er stre-
    there clearly stresses and strains
    people people
NR: let me tell what the stress and strains might be
    Lord Wolfson
PM: go on
NR: just have to pause a second
and then I give the question to you
PM: sorry
NR: so Lord Wolfson...

PM: coming to this country
    I want to er 
    I want to see that
    but what I-
NR: so should we listen to businesses
    business leaders
    let me just make this point
PM: yes go on
NR: who say 
    let us decide...

PM: of of pay
    but also of conditions
    so take the road haulage
NR: so British
    n- n- n- no no
PM: can I just can I just
    can I just finish this point
NR: no prime minister you made that point
    you made it at length in a series of interviews 
    in the run up to this conference
PM: hang on I wa-
    I haven't had a chance to make this point
    on your show for two years
    by your own account
NR: that was your choice not our
    now you want British workers...

PM: er which I think is what you're talking about
    marked uncontrolled immigration
NR: no nobody is suggesting that prime minister
PM: yes they are
NR: (indistinct) 
    nobody wants
PM: no well they are
NR: (indistinct ) visas
PM: so what Lord what Lord what Lord
    what Lord Wolfson is is saying...

PM: and I think and I
    and I think the problem with
    that's exactly what you just said
NR: yes
PM: so I think the problem
NR: let's be (indistinct)
    you're telling what someone else thinks
    and I wanna know what you think
PM: well you well you
NR: no prime minister (indistinct)
PM: and I don't I don't think 
    and I don't think that is the way forward
    I seriously don't
    this country is at a turning point nick...

PM: of young people in this country
    who frankly at the moment
    are thinking of becoming truck drivers
    [that is going that is going 
NR: [you have made that point very clearly
PM: that is going to change
NR: and prime minister you are going to pause
PM: that is going to change
    and and that is going to be a good thing
NR: prime minister
    stop talking 
    we are gonna have questions and answers
    not where you merely talk if you wouldn't mind
    now the question I now want to ask you
BJ: well I'd be happy to stop talking
NR: is about the cost of living if you would...

PM: er to enable them to invest
    in capital and equipment and
NR: my question to you is who pays it
    isn't it the consumer that always pays 
    corporate taxes
    it will add in other words
    to the cost of living crisis
PM: no it's business that pays it...

PM: er their business more efficient
    [and that is and that is why
NR: [er I'm sorry the tories are always arguing
BJ: [and that is why 
NR: [that (corporate taxes) are paid for by consumers
    and I want to ask you about the cost of living 
    in general if I can
    this week you said...

PM: and I think that is a fantastic thing
NR: forgive me forgive me
PM: and and there'll be many 
    there will be many (indistinct)
NR: I want you to talk about some other subjects
    that I know that you care passionately about
    of course we wanna hear you talk
    but wanna hear you talk on a range of subjects
    not just one
    let's turn to a subject...

PM: er domestic violence
    and se- sexual violence
    and all that [all that all that 
NR: [(indistinct) prime minister
    because the tories have been in power for eleven years
    and cut the budget of the courts
    and so we've now got five hundred 
    violent crime or sexual abuse victims
    have been waiting two or more years
    before their...

PM: er the sentences for serious sexual and 
    [mhm] and violent offences
    and that's the right thing
NR: you have a woman's minister
PM: but but it needs to be accelerated
NR: she is also the foreign secretary at the minis-
    at the moment
    if you really want to...

PM: so if captain hindsight
    had been in charge
    we'd still be in lockdown
NR: prime minister
PM: don't forget
NR: thank you for coming here
    thank you for talking to the today programme
PM: very kind of you to let me talk 
NR: allowing the occasional question as well
PM: very kind to let me talk
NR: do come again
    that was the point of inviting me on your show
    anyway lovely to see you
AN: the time now is twenty seven minutes past eight

This is a quick transcription which does not indicate all the overlap. 

External link to clip

BBC Radio 4 – Today programme, 5th October 2021 (2hr 10min approx.)

Guardian article on Johnson’s boycott