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Russell Harty Plus

LONG-RUNNING PREDECESSOR of the above, and the one that made Russ a household name. Began life as the brilliantly-named ELEVEN PLUS, a tactful way of reflecting the fact it was shoved out at the arse end of the schedules when everyone had gone to bed. Rebranding helped boost both it and its owner’s profile, and soon everyone from RALPH RICHARDSON to ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER was beating a path to Russ’s tatty be-carpeted boudoir. Our host would devoutly engage every single guest in some bit of cultured – if barmy – bit of business, be it breaking the arms off a chair, prancing around the stage, trading quips about the alphabet or introducing them to his mother. He did, though, seem a bit flustered by The Who (“Can I go home now?”) and there did seem to only ever be about a couple of dozen people in the audience.

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  1. Enoch Sneed

    July 25, 2010 at 8:39 am

    The Ralph Richardson show was a classic. Sir Ralph started by taking the piss out of the ‘homely flat’ setting (“You have many more friends than I have… more cameras, too”) then the whole situation by starting to interview Harty: “Somebody told me you were a schoolmaster. Tell me, did you always want to be a schoolmaster?”

    He also helpfully explained that the National Theatre (where he was appearing with Gielgud in Pinter’s “No Man’s Land”) had more or less told him to plug the place on the show, so every five minutes he slipped in a reference to “the National Theatah!” and the audience applauded.

    More seriously he gave his views on life and art (“People don’t really know each other, not *really*… We don’t really know ourselves, none of us know when we’re going to die”). All in all one of the best TV interviews I’ve ever seen, miles ahead of the “Tell us about the new film/album/book/series” school of chat show.

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