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Completely Frivolous Interview: Peter Donaldson

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007 at 08:59 by Simon Kimber

Part whimsy, part psychological test, The Slant’s Completely Frivolous Interview side-steps the usual spin and book-plugging in an attempt to find out what people in the public eye really think, without actually asking them directly. First to take the plunge is broadcaster Peter Donaldson. You might not know the name, but if you’ve listened to Radio 4 at any point in the last three decades you’ll more than likely know the voice.

Formerly Radio 4’s chief announcer and news reader on the Today Programme, he’s never been one to shy away from controversy, perhaps most famously when the then director-general of the BBC Greg Dyke sent publicity packs to all staff announcing his plan to “Cut The Crap” from the BBC.  Donaldson promptly binned his and wrote back to Dyke saying “Taken your advice - and cut the crap”.  Despite this he’s still a regular freelancer on the BBC.

Donaldson’s voice could have been even more famous, but unfortunately for him nuclear war failed to break out during the 1980’s and the “Four Minute Warning” message he recorded was never used.  He is now a director of the website Collecting Friends where he indulges his passion for collecting, in particular, old Wirelesses, blow-torches and Wee Willie Winky candle holders.

But that’s enough background… We’ve got some frivolous questions to ask…

1) Tell us your name and an interesting fact about it.
Peter Donaldson - It’s mine! and my grandfather’s.

2) What is your favourite mythical creature?
The unicorn, or god.

3) In a surprise move the whole of humanity comes together and votes you dictator for life. Tell us your first three laws.
Hug-a-hoodie, Ban moods, Ban hugging.

4) Humanity has decided you were a terrible dictator, as punishment you will have one song implanted into your mind. It will play continuously for the rest of your life. However, we will let you choose the song, what is it?
Black-eyed Suzy.

5) Now we will place you in a time machine and exile you to a time period of your choosing, you may take nothing with you, when do you go to?
Late 17th century.

6) OK, we relent, you may take one companion, one of the Muppets, which one?
Miss Piggy; there’s more meat on her than Kermit.

7) And one convenience, you cannot sell it or make money from it, what do you want to take?
A convenience - a chemical loo.

8) You must find employment in your new time, what do you think your unique talents will allow you to be?
An actor.

9) Tell us about a smell that holds the key to a memory.
Mitsouko (a Perfume by Guerlain - not a Japanese fish dish!) - but I’m not sharing the memory.

10) We love the word campervan. What is your favourite word?
Merlot.

11) Spiders make us scream and run off, even though we’re aware this is foolish. Does anything have a similar effect on you?
Strident women.

12) OK, so we’re big girly wusses about the spiders, but we’d still like to exterminate them as a species. Of which species would you like to carry out the mandatory slaughter when you take back your rightful place as dictator? (Thankfully, due to our magic there will be no long term environmental effects)
Flies.

13) Do you like Soya Milk?
Yuk!

14) Black cats, lucky or unlucky?
Ask them, not me.

15) Actually, having thought about it, we were far too lenient on you with that whole dictator thing and you’ve admitted to planning a coup. You’re going to have to die. We’ll go with tradition and give you a last meal, what would you like?
Oysters.

16) As we have access to time travel, are there any famous people you’d like to go back in time and beat up? (No killing mind, we’ll have no paradox here.)
None.

17) Anger is an energy, fill yourself with rage and rant about a pet peeve.
I’d rather expend my energy positively - ho ho ho.

18) Do you regularly carry out any superstitious acts?
Not that I know of, cross my heart and hope to die.

19) Maybe you don’t have to die, or maybe we’re just playing mind games with you. Whatever, justify your existence and we may show you mercy.
Tell me why I shouldn’t exist, if you do.

20) End of interview, now I’m afraid you must die. But, you can either die from a horrible tropical disease and further the cause of science or be mauled to death by wild animals on prime-time TV and provide entertainment for the masses, which would you prefer?
The former.

So, there you have it! The real Peter Donaldson. A man who wants to take a chemical toilet to the 17th century, recoils at the mention of soya milk and likes his muppets with a bit more meat on them, not to mention a splash of Mitsouko. What more could you possibly need to know?

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3 Comments on “Completely Frivolous Interview: Peter Donaldson”

  1. Sue Stewart Says:

    unfortunately for him nuclear war failed to break out during the 1980’s and the “Four Minute Warning” message he recorded was never used.

    Unless you count Frankie Goes To Hollywood and “Two Tribes” - that was Peter Donaldson’s message in the background, wasn’t it? I think it may have been used in “Threads”, too.

    I especially like the answer to number 3.

  2. Rhys Wilcox Says:

    There’s no meat on any Muppet, they’re made of cloth. Unless of course you count the skin cells that may have scraped off on their insides from the puppeteer’s hands.

  3. Simon Kimber Says:

    Cloth? What are you saying? Puppeteer? What? WHAT?!

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