Tag interviews

Structure of an Interview

Sometimes asking questions in an interview is just not the right ‘structure’ if your interviewee does not want to answer them. Here we see Channel 4 news anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy (KG) interviewing the Conservative MP Tobias Elwood (TE) who clearly… Continue Reading →

Three words and 0.7 seconds: Not much time for a Minister

A lot was made on Twitter of Helen Watley’s appearance on Sky TV this morning. The claim by some distractors was that Whatley was saying that the government could blame scientists for mistakes made in the COVID-19 policy. Within ten… Continue Reading →

MARR: “I know the answer”

Political interviewers like to pretend that they are are asking genuine questions to their political guests. But sometimes it is revealed all too clearly that their questions are really designed to try and steer the guest towards a particular answer.

“Can I explain why?” “No explain how.”

Andrew Neil interviewed Jeremy Corbyn on BBC television tonight. Neil is a forensic interviewer who usually pins his interviewees down to exact words and syllables. But Corbyn is know for his own brand of stubbornness, and there was one wonderful… Continue Reading →

I AM answering your question

Politicians often get accused of not answering questions but sometimes they fight back as Andy McDonald did on Friday.

Eye fluttering

Politicians use all means to try and grab and hold the floor during interviews including non-verbal means. Nigel Farage has developed an interesting technique where he flutters his eyes for a few seconds, almost bringing them to a close, in… Continue Reading →

Fighting for control of the floor

Fight for control of the floor can sometimes produce odd utterances out of the mouths of the interlocutors. Here is Boris Johnson and Nick Robinson spluttering syllables like bird wings flapping in the air as they fight for the turn… Continue Reading →

Grayling’s grilling

Political interviewing can be a frustrating affair when the politician being interviewed refuses to answer directly the questions put to them. John Humphrys, a BBC radio 4 presenter and interviewer, gave Chris Grayling, a Conservative MP, a grilling on the… Continue Reading →

Exasperation and incredulity!

Political commentators and journalists all have their own idiosyncratic styles when interviewing politicians. Emily Maitlis, the BBC Newsnight  commentator, often shows exasperation and incredulity in her voice through sweeping intonation falls and facial expressions. Here is a brief analysis to… Continue Reading →

Conversation Analysis – BBC Question Time (part 1)

Editor: The BBC’s Question Time programme on Thursday nights seems to court controversy these days as we hold it to ever more stringent impartiality standards. In this blog, Elena Ioannidou dissects the discourse that this programme produces from a CA perspective…. Continue Reading →

Conversation Analysis – BBC Question Time (part 2)

Editor: This is part 2 of the blog on the BBC Question Time programme. Part 1 is here.

Holding the floor: Eyes down

The eyes play an important part in human communication. They can signal an intention to communicate and sometimes act to facilitate turn transition. In this example here, we see Tom Watson, the  Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, using his… Continue Reading →

The many faces of ‘no’

Theresa May seems to have developed many ways of saying ‘no’ without actually meaning it. In her interview with Andrew Marr at the weekend, she frequently used reduced articulations of the word (e.g. ‘n-’) to preface her responses to Marr’s… Continue Reading →

a/the Single Market

It seems strange that two of the smallest and most commonest words in the English dictionary could cause confusion between interviewer and interviewee but that is what ‘a’ and ‘the’ seemed to do on Sunday when Andrew Marr interviewed James… Continue Reading →

Interview terminated!

Richard Madeley knows when to shut down an interview. On ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he abruptly brought his interview with Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, to an end when Williamson refused to answer his question after four strikes.

This can be a one word answer if you wouldn’t mind?

Interviewers don’t always get what they ask for but when they do, it can often cause difficulties for the interview.

Angling for a job, Ms Perry?

Claire Perry, Conservative MP, seemed to enjoy asking questions on the Daily Politics today, so much so that Andrew Neil feared she was angling for his job.

Finishing off your interviewee’s sentences

Interviewers are always looking for ways to hurry their interviewees along, so finishing off their ideas seems to be a nice way to do this with the added advantage that you get the floor back. Why wait for the slow… Continue Reading →

Closing an interview

In day-to-day conversation, closing a conversation requires both participants to clear the floor. That is, each has to offer the floor to the other and only when neither has anything more to contribute can the conversation close. If you have… Continue Reading →

Ouch! Direct, focused questioning at its best

Andrew Neil was on fine form as he returned to hosting the Daily Politics on BBC1 on Wednesday. After chewing up Labour’s Andrew Gwynne, he turned his attention to Steve Baker, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Wycombe.

Negotiation of the floor

In general, only one person can hold the floor in a conversation. When a debate is taking place, there are often periods where negotiation of the floor occurs. The current speaker will use rhetorical devices to try and maintain the… Continue Reading →

Make your contribution such as it is required…

TV presenters in a political interview have the privilege of asking the questions, but what do you do when your interviewee refuses to answer outright and brushes up against the Cooperative Principle? This is what Kay Burley, Sky News presenter,… Continue Reading →

Pausing as a marker of equivocation intentions

Pausing briefly while speaking is a natural part of delivery. We pause for several reason. The most obvious one is to take breath so we can carry on speaking. Some pauses occur before content words or complex clauses suggesting that… Continue Reading →

Charlie Mullins

The word ‘twat’ has a checkered history in the English language. Originally coined to mean ‘female genitalia’, although famously misued by Robert Browning in his poem ‘Pippa Passes’ (1841), it has recently been used to refer to an ‘obnoxious or… Continue Reading →

Bull’s Typology of Equivocation (part 2)

Jessica Bott continues her series on ‘equivocation’: When a politician is equivocating there are multiple ways they can avoid answering a question. Often a politician will have a preferred way to equivocate and avoid using some of Bull’s categories. In… Continue Reading →

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