You can’t hear this all-time classic bust-up with the BBC’s Nicholas Witchell too often
With Prince George, sorry, George Cambridge off to school and a third royal baby on the way, we can expect to hear a lot more from the BBC’s royal correspondent, Nicholas Witchell over the coming months.
So what better excuse than to listen to this all-time classic bust-up between Witchell and his BBC colleague, presenter Richard Evans.
Here’s the pair’s right royal rumpus in full.
Richard Evans: Er, OK, blah di blah di blah. Here’s our royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell to tell us what happened today.
Nicholas Witchell: Sorry, I mean it’s just such a … there has been a memorial service, you can’t ask, I don’t mean … your intro will say the Prince of Wales has led a commemoration at the Cenotaph, what has happened at the Cenotaph, they sounded the last post, they had a two-minute silence…
RE: Well, just tell us all that then, you know.
NW: [sighs] No. I’m sorry, I’m not going to.
RE: Well, what do you want me to do?
NW: I don’t know, honesty I don’t.
RE: What do you want me to do?
NW: What happens … let’s not argue between ourselves.
RE: You tell me Nicholas what questions you want me to ask.
NW: I don’t want you to ask any, my dear chap
RE: I know you don’t, I know you don’t.
NW: Start with, because that is in your cue, what happened, start with, you know, it is going to be one of the last occasions this happened.
RE:[angry] You tell me what to ask you.
NW: I just have.
RE: Right, what’s the question then?
NW: Otherwise I’m going
RE: What’s question one? Don’t take it out on me, I’m just trying to do my bloody job as well.
NW: And likewise and likewise and likewise. You know, it’s just a pointless two-way but let’s start…
RE: I’m the monkey not the organ grinder, all right? [sighs]. So what do you want me to ask you?
NW: I’ve told you four times now, this will presumably be one of the last occasions when a ceremony such as this happens…
RE: Right I’ll ask you that. And what shall I ask you after that?
NW: [big sigh] I’m sure you’ll think of something.
RE: If I’m going to ask you questions and you’re just going to say I’m not prepared to answer that question we’re not going to get very far, are we? I just want to get this over with.
NW: Well, there’s no point asking questions which cannot be answered. What happened there was a ceremony of remembrance, you know they sang a hymn, said some prayers…
RE: Well, you just answered it.
NW: Well, all right if you want me to…
RE: [to a member of production staff] Do you want to persevere with this, Daniel, or not? I don’t understand what’s going on here, quite frankly. I’d rather be watching the television.
Daniel: Neither do I.
NW: OK then, let’s leave it. That’s fine. You know, I just, I’ve hung around for you, it’s pointless.
[A discussion begins with production staff, and Witchell and Evans agree a point with a producer]
RE: Fine, absolutely. I’ll ask any question you want me to.
NW: Well, you also presumably can think up some yourself. Cor blimey. Right, let’s have a go.
RE: Are we recording all this, Nick? I hope we are. Right here we go…
[They rehearse two questions and answers]
RE: Is that it? What was the other question you wanted me to ask? Tracey?
NW: I mean, that’s the trouble with something like this.
RE: Well, tell me about it.
[Another producer intervenes]: What’s the matter?
NW: This doesn’t really suit a kind of two-way treatment. It’s either actuality or a veteran.
Producer: We’ve got a veteran.
NW: Okay, well, so … I think there is a misapprehension here. There haven’t been things going on today, there has been one ceremony at the Cenotaph. This isn’t like Remembrance Day when you’ve got ceremonies all over the country.
Producer: I thought there was one in Scotland as well.
NW: Well, if there is I’m not aware of it, I’m sorry … There’s loads of actuality, it’s much more poignant than me talking about it. The intelligent way of doing this is actuality and a veteran. I have no significance in this at all. Prince Charles laid a wreath, do you see what I mean? (to Evans) You’re looking…
RE: I’m not saying anything. I’m just here to ask the questions. You tell me what questions to ask and I’ll ask them, all right? … That’s all I want to do. [to producer] You’ve come in halfway through this. I basically asked what happened. Nicholas said that’s a daft question, he wouldn’t answer it, so then he said ask me if it’s the last time. I’ve asked that, he’s talked about the veterans then he said talk about the ceremony. I’ve done that now we can’t think of another question between us.
NW: You’ve got about a minute and a half there, that is frankly all there is to say about it.
Producer: Fine, that’s all we’ll say about it…
RE: [resigned] Right.
NW: You’re just presumably starting your shift, I’ve been…
RE: I totally appreciate that, absolutely. OK, are we recording?
[Evans asks another question, Witchell answers it]
RE: Nicholas Witchell, thank you. Thank you.
You can read the full story here. Here’s an excerpt.
“It should have been a straightforward rehearsal for the BBC’s coverage of the VJ Day 60th anniversary commemorations. But preparations for a so-called “two way” between Nicholas Witchell and Radio 5 presenter Richard Evans descended into eight minutes of bickering after the BBC’s royal correspondent apparently took issue with the line of questioning.
Embarrassingly for the pair, the entire conversation was recorded – complete with interjections from nervous production staff trying to defuse the situation. The recording has been making its way around the BBC’s email system in recent days giving staff an unintentionally hilarious insight into what happens when presenters and correspondents disagree.”
There’s a touching moment just over six minutes in when the pair appear to make up (a bit).
Only one question remains – who was being the biggest arse?