seen off Maggie and many more.
As one of television‘s toughest interrogators, KIRSTY WARK has
We sent Sue Wilson to discover
whether she‘s as formidable in person as she is on camera.
s is their wont at crucial moments. '; every single taxi in Glasgow‘s West . End has dematerialised. and the ample time I’ve allowed myselfis | rapidly ebbing away. I‘m acutely 5
aware that turning up late and breathless for this interview is unlikely to make a positive first impression on my
: presenter ofumpteen politics and arts j programmes. renowned for her rigorous professionalism.
E SUbJCCt, Kirsty Wark. the unflappable i
Eventually, thankfully. I spot a friendly 5 orange light and arrive to find I‘ve beaten her to it. Halfan hour on. she still hasn‘t shown; a phone call interrupts her breakfast. elicits a couple of brisk L‘XPlL :Z'. e um?- ten minutes later she rushes in apologising — she left her Filofax in the office the day before. the baby had kept her awake halfthe night. our appointment had just gone clean out of herhead.
Actually. it‘s all pleasantly reassuring — the
lm 8'I‘hc List 6— l‘) November 1992
prospect of interviewing one oftelevision‘s toughest anchorwomen. someone who earns her living giving politicians the third degree had seemed a decidedly daunting one. Wark in the ﬂesh. however. is disarmingly friendly. chatty and relaxed. dressed in jeans and denim shirt instead ofthe familiar sharp suits. a young-looking 37 and much smaller than she appears on the screen. No Superwoman. after all. simply a busy working mother who has carved out an impressive niche for herself in the high-pressure world of broadcasting by dint ofbrains. determination and plenty of hard graft.
‘To be taken seriously you have to do your work.‘ she says firmly. and this. is seems. is the foundation-stone of Wark‘s famous poise —— preparation. preparation and more preparation. ‘I‘ve always made sure that I’ve done a lot of homework. otherwise it‘s just insulting to your audience. There‘s no other way to do justice to serious issues. besides
which. it covers me against being wrongfooted. The thing is. the more work you do beforehand. the more you can rely on it being there in the back of your mind. so you can relax and just go with the debate.’ Not that she did a whole lot of relaxing j during her most famous interview encounter. with then Prime Minister Mrs Thatcher during the height of the anti-poll tax campaign. ‘Well. I certainly did my homework for that one.‘ Wark acknowledges. ‘It was all actually quite interesting; she’d only been interviewed by a few women. like Miriam Stoppard and Sue Lawley. and she was very unhappy about me doing the interview. We were both in make-up beforehand. and we‘d obviously both decided to completely distance ourselves — I didn‘t want to discuss anything about the interview with her. and she didn‘t want to be seen asking about it. So we did the interview. and when we came off she just laid into me — “Why did you ask me about the community charge. the community charge is here to stay: I‘ve never been interrupted by anyone as much as I was interrupted by you“. She knew she‘d made some bad errors. she was on the attack. so I just backed off. But I knew I had to meet her as an equal. because I was there to do a job for people. I was there to ask her the questions they couldn‘t. I don‘t think you have to be rude. I‘ve never subscribed to that, but I do think you have to push politicians — they are where they are because of taxpayers’ money and people‘s votes.‘ Born in Kilmarnock. Wark joined the BBC as a graduate radio researcher in 1976. Moving into producing. she worked on various current affairs shows before she switched to television in 1983. still on the production side. After a couple of years. she was offered the chance to go in front of the cameras. ‘I had no notion at all when I started out that I would end up as a presenter.‘ she says. ‘But when I was asked. it just seemed like a challenge. Initially I had all these preconceived notions about howl
‘Nobody ever asks men how they cope with having kids and a full-time job.’
was going to do things differently — like I wasn‘t going to wear make-up. but of course under the lights you just look completely washed out. so you have to conform to a certain extent.’
These days Wark’s CV is both long and wide-ranging. including work on both : politics and arts shows — Left, Right and Centre. Scottish Question Time. The Late Show. Edinburgh Nights. ‘1 am very interested in the arts. particularly design, architecture. music — well. everything really; I‘m a kind of a dilettante in that sense — I’m actually quite interested in sport as well. I think it shows that crossover is possible, anﬂ