BBC investigating how late Princess of Wales granted interview 25 years ago !  

Brits being Brits, they suddenly want to know how the interview came about; how an obscure journalist managed to get it when his more famous peers struggled to get a hearing.

BBC investigating how late Princess of Wales granted interview 25 years ago !   
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Hasan Suroor

The “mystery” of Diana interview

When it comes to exhuming old corpses, nobody can beat the Brits. Consider this: a quarter of a century ago, a little-known BBC journalist scooped an interview with a certain princess who was going through a bad marriage. In the interview, she accused her husband, Queen’s eldest son, of cheating her with another woman. “We’re three in a marriage,” she famously said fluttering her sad eyelashes. It created a sensation not because her husband’s affair had been a secret but because for the first time the princess had disclosed this on national television. The royal couple were soon formally divorced. Twenty-five years on, the princess is long dead, the prince is happily married to the woman for whom he had betrayed his wife, the journalist has mostly been forgotten after a brief international fame. It should have been the end of the story.

But Brits being Brits, they suddenly want to know how the interview came about; how an obscure journalist managed to get it when his more famous peers struggled to get a hearing. By the way, in case you haven’t already guessed it, the princess was late Diana, her treacherous husband Prince Charles, and the journalist Martin Bashir. The interview was telecast on Nov 20, 1995 and was watched by 23 million people.

Conspiracy theories are swirling around with Bashir facing accusations of using forged documents to con Diana into speaking to him, and the BBC under fire for allegedly covering up his tracks. The chorus is led by Diana’s brother Charles Spencer who says Bashir played on his sister’s vulnerable state of mind at the time to obtain the interview. He is said to have a mockedup bank statement, purporting to show that members of the royal household, in cahoots with the media, were selling stories to newspapers in order to discredit her.

Bashir was cleared of wrongdoing after an internal investigation. But under pressure, BBC has ordered a fresh inquiry amid threats from some MPs to launch their own investigation. Phew!

Cinema for the COVID age

Tired of binging on Netflix and yet wary about going to cinema for fear of catching the virus? Now help is at hand in the form of a new concept in movie-watching fit for an age of social-distancing. Called the “vertical movie theatre”, it’s designed to give every member of the audience complete privacy ensuring that they stay in their own bubble. Its inventor, Pierre Chican, a French architect. Chican claims it will “revolutionise the way we watch films”. Instead of standard rows of seats, it has separate booths placed at different slopes – giving everyone an unobstructed view while ensuring social-distancing. The slopes have been designed in a manner that nobody will have to crane their neck to have a clear way.

“Cinema layouts haven’t changed in decades. We wanted to provide a more intimate experience, bring people closer to the screen. To do that, we have separated the room into customisable pods and increased the angle of the slope from 25 degrees to more than 50,” says Chican.

It has been in the works long before the pandemic struck but today seems to be just the right thing for our times. For starters, it is to be rolled out at the purpose-built Oma Cinema in Paris and gradually expanded. There are also plans to take it to India. Look out for it.


Coffee “racism”

Next time, before ordering a black coffee, make sure that there is no person of colour around lest you should end up “hurting” them. Because apparently, some think it’s racist to call a “black coffee” a “black coffee”, prompting at least one senior member of the black community to speak out against such excessive sensitivities.

Andrew George, head of Britain’s National Black Police Association has called it political correctness gone mad and saidit was overshadowing “wider issues” that affected everyday lives of blacks and other minorities. Of course, people needed to be civil and sensitive to other people’s feelings but “not being able to call a black coffee a black coffee” was stretching it.

“It kind of takes away from the wider issues on things that are impacting on black and minority ethnic communities every day.”In the current climate, it takes courage to tell the truth. Thumbs up, Mr George.

And, lastly, new research has found that husbands get a “psychological kick” if a pay rise widens the gap between their earnings and those of their lower-paid wives. However, women get no such thrill if it happens the other way round.

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