Letter - GMTV can be tougher than Radio 4's Today

Here's a thought for all those who agree with Charlie Whelan ('Even Humphrys had to bow down to Blair', 9 February) that politicians and others in the crossfire of public opinion have a choice between an 'easy sofa-style GMTV interview' and a 'fierce' inquisition from John Humphrys (my interest to declare is that I once worked for GMTV).

I would argue it is much harder to come across as a likeable, persuasive and truthful person on that TV sofa than it is being 'grilled' by Today presenters with questions that are more or less predictable.

Ask yourself this: when was the last time you heard a member of the Government getting into real difficulty on Today? It's not just Tony Blair. Battle-hardened Cabinet ministers learned to play the 'confrontational' game long ago, and that's what allows them to escape the steely embrace of Radio 4 presenters on most occasions.

Making your case in front of five or six million GMTV punters - and coming across as a human being in the process - requires a special kind of skill that only a few possess: the skill of a natural communicator.

If the choice were confined to radio, I'd much rather appear on Today than face the questioning of Garry Richardson on Radio 5's Sunday morning Sportsweek. Anyone who has heard his recent, highly entertaining interviews with Peter Kenyon, David Gill, Steve McClaren and the chairman of England's cricket selectors will know what I'm talking about.

Geoff Beattie, managing director, Cohn & Wolfe London.

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