That Awful Glass Eye

The illusion of an interview as a cosy chat between two acquaintances is just that – an illusion. In a studio both the interviewer and interviewee are nervous as chickens in a fox den. There are harsh lights glaring at you, people telling you to sit this way and that, and everybody except you is wearing a pair of headphones and is listening to all sorts of private jokes about you. And everybody is telling you to relax! Cameras are horrid great lumps of machinery, but they’re driven by real human beings. Without making a bit thing of it, say hello and introduce yourself to anyone you meet in the studio. A sound man who clips on your microphone, the floor manager, the cameraman who moves aside to let you get to your chair. Two of the nicest people I’ve ever met in show business, Wilfred Hyde-White and David Niven always made a point of introducing themselves to everyone in every studio they entered. It wasn’t a posing thing, or done for any ulterior motive, but it immediately got the whole atmosphere a thousand degrees warmer.

Lights and Cameras

I know you’ll find the lights glaring, but try to ignore them. Consider – without them the air-conditioning would make you shiver. So be glad. Spread yourself and absorb the warmth. You’ll find a tendency to hide your eyes from the light. Spectacle frames can do this very nicely. Don’t do it. Let your eyes be seen. During the recording or transmission, try to ignore the cameras. Whatever you do, don’t look at one during the interview. Have a good look beforehand and then try to pretend that only you and the interviewer are in the room. Easier said than done, I know . . . At the end, thank everyone concerned and say goodbye.

Monitors and other distractions

If, when you’re looking at the interviewer, you find your attention drawn to a monitor, ask for it to be removed or turned away. By all means have a look at yourself on a monitor, but be aware of the limitations. That isn’t how you’ll be seen – you’ll be looking the other way, at the interviewer. Don’t check your appearance or try to adjust your tie by looking at a monitor. Remember it’s not the same as looking in a mirror – left is right and right is left, for a start! At the end, thank everyone concerned and say goodbye.


There are three main kinds – a boom or fishing rod wielded by one of the crew, a stand microphone and the personal clip type. Only the personal one need worry you. If you’re asked to wear one, and nobody puts it on for you, clip it to your clothing six inches or so beneath your chin – central or on the side towards the interviewer. Men can use it as a tie clip, Ladies can try it on the neckline of a dress. If you’re wearing a light pullover or thin dress, you can ask the sound supervisor if he’d mind if you try it underneath – clipped to a shirt or brassiere. Whatever, it should be placed so it can’t rub against anything – the lapel of a jacket for instance. When you (and the sound man) are happy with its location, try to hide the wire. Men can undo a shirt button or two, tuck in the wire and re-button. Then tuck it into your belt until it reaches the side of the chair out of sight. Ladies: however you can manage! If you are wired like this, don’t stand up suddenly! There’s a variant on this kind of microphone that uses a radio link instead of wires. Be sure to switch it off before you visit the lavatory.