Tuesday, September 28, 2021

My hero / Joan Bakewell by Kirsty Wark


Joan Bakewell interviews Harold Pinter on Late NIght Line-Up.

My hero:

Joan Bakewell by Kirsty Wark

Joan was, and still is, a role model – a sassy, bright young woman who looked so incredibly modern and relaxed on television

Friday 21 March 2014


have a very clear memory of watching Joan Bakewell (pictured with Harold Pinter) on Late Night Line-Up. The programme ran during my formative teenage years and even now when, preparing to write this article, I listen to the opening theme tune it takes me right back to the late 1960s.

When I was 15 it never occurred to me that there might be something unusual about a woman in a prominent role on an unashamedly intellectual and hip programme. Joan was one of two main presenters and every night she explored ideas of literature, drama, poetry – and she was there by right, a sassy, bright young woman who looked so incredibly modern and relaxed on television. She interviewed every big arts and cultural figure on the radar. This was the era of the TV drama Take Three Girls, and Nova magazine, and Edna O'Brien's Girl with Green Eyes, and other material that explored what it was like to live in a new age. My friends and I talked about the fact that attitudes were changing rapidly. This was the permissive society, and in my senior year at school we became aware of the agitation around women's liberation and the demands for equality legislation. We needed role models and to me Joan was, and still is, the epitome of cool.

Joan Bakewell

When you are 17 you really have no idea where your life will take you, but early on I had the idea that I wanted to be a journalist. Both The Late Show, which I presented, and now Newsnight, have strong elements of Late Night Line-Up. Maybe I was trying to channel Joan Bakewell all along, and if I was, thank you, Joan, for the privilege.


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