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Arts | By Valerie Grove

Radio 4 Extra has been replaying Frankly Speaking, a series from the early 1950s, including the programme in which Evelyn Waugh was interrogated in 1953 by three male voices. The inquisitors – named Charles Wilmot, Jack Davies and Stephen Black – were of no consequence. But their interview contributed to sending Waugh, for a time, quite mad. It predated John Freeman’s televised Face to Face by seven years.  The tone of the questions – an idea apparently based on some French arts programme – was bound to exasperate, voiced in cold RP diction; civil, but somehow malign: ‘Apart from earning a living by writing, Mr Waugh, why do you write?’ The interview also suggests he was a ‘facile’ writer.  Waugh, fifty and out of sorts, preferred to be left alone, but the BBC fee for a morning’s intrusion seemed decent. Once faced with their insinuations, however, his replies became...

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