A Three Minute Challenge


Jeremy Corbyn was running late.

There’s nothing unusual about having to hang around to interview politicians, so the news came as little surprise.

The Labour leader had been addressing a town hall style meeting in Portobello alongside the leader of the Scottish party, Kezia Dugdale.

There were around 400 people in the audience, and now several of them were looking to speak to him, or more likely, get a selfie.  This was his first visit during the Scottish election campaign, and his supporters were looking to make the most of it.

But the slip in his schedule meant my time with him would be more limited than I thought.

STV had been nominated to get a ‘pool clip’, meaning I was asking questions for ITN, Sky and BBC as well as ourselves.

All of the broadcasters had chipped in with suggestions on what they wanted from him on David Cameron’s tax affairs.  The list had grown to almost a dozen questions, and that’s before I had the chance to ask him about the Scottish election.

So when his PR brought him over and told me I had three minutes for the whole interview, I began to picture a lot of angry producers in London cursing me for not reaching their chosen angles before she stepped in.

However, his first answer covered a couple of the questions on the list, and another was brushed aside in fewer than five words.

I could still sense his PR hovering over my shoulder staring at her stopwatch.

I ploughed on, reckoning there must be a couple of good answers at least on tax already.  Onto the Scottish elections, waiting for the tap on the shoulder, the desperate circling of the finger with a glower telling me my time was up, a prelude to her stepping in front of the camera to bring the interview to an abrupt halt.


He wrapped up and I thanked him for the interview.

The PR turned to me with a look of surprise.

‘Three minutes exactly! Thank you!’

It must have been a first for everyone involved, myself included.  Normally these situations end with an interruption, followed by a plea for one more question, followed by a flat refusal and a sharp exit stage left, leaving everyone feeling a bit short changed.

Even Corbyn looked surprise.  Before heading off, he told me I’d definitely earned some brownie points, because they keep notes of this sort of thing for future interviews.

In that case, next time I’m going for four.





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