Brexit: John Humphrys reveals he voted to remain
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The veteran broadcaster, 77, is due to step down from Mastermind after 18 years as the popular quiz show’s host. Humphrys, who also fronted BBC Radio 4’s Today programme for 32 years, is well known for his tough interviewing technique. The star has clashed with countless politicians, including once when he interrupted former chancellor Ken Clarke more than 30 times during their interview.
Humphrys was praised for his “fearlessness and journalistic, interrogatory courage” by former Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer.
Robin Cook, Labour’s Foreign Secretary under Tony Blair, admitted that he struggled to sleep the night before his grilling from the BBC star.
Mr Damazer claimed that Humphrys had been of “incalculable value” on the show but his temperament “occasionally led him astray”.
The Welsh journalist’s combative technique became renowned within the Royal Family too.
Humphrys recalled that this led to a “very cross” response from Prince Philip during an interview to mark his 70th birthday.
He described their chat as “pretty boring” except for that moment but claimed it was censored after a “complaint” from Buckingham Palace.
The heated moment occurred when Humphrys asked Prince Philip about his ocean racing yacht, named Bloodhound.
He recalled: “It was pretty boring except for a section when he got very cross.
“I had asked him why the Queen hadn’t helped him out when he had to sell his racing yacht because of the expensive upkeep.”
The Duke of Edinburgh owned Bloodhound for seven years from 1962 before it was sold.
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In 2010, it was purchased by The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust.
After the interview with Philip, Humphrys admitted he was frustrated because the clip never made it to air.
He said: “The Palace complained and the BBC cut it out.”
Humphrys believed that interview and others, led the royals to be cautious of him and at times refuse to talk to him.
In his Daily Mail column last year, he wrote: “Maybe the Palace remembered that I have form.”
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He claimed the Queen had refused interviews with him on three separate occasions because of his well-known techniques.
Humphrys’ first attempt was met with a firm “one-word answer, ‘No’.
He recalled: “She’d invited me to one of her private lunches at Buckingham Palace.
“When we were having a coffee in the anteroom afterwards, I popped the question.”
On his second attempt, Humphrys claimed that the Queen “listened politely” to “the case” he had “carefully prepared” before rejecting him again.
Humphrys recalled: “Then another, ‘No!’ followed by, ‘What’s more Mr Humphrys…
“‘If one were ever to do such an interview it would most certainly not be with you!’”
Humphrys, who admitted he was “a lifelong republican”, approached the Queen one final time when she “came to open The New Broadcasting House”.
He said: “She brushed me aside pretty sharply… fair enough, why shouldn’t she? She is the monarch.”
The Queen finally gave what some consider to be her first-ever interview to Sir David Attenborough.
John Humphrys signs off his final episode of R4 Today
In the 2018 ITV documentary, The Queen’s Green Planet, Her Majesty and the naturalist strolled around Buckingham Palace Gardens and discussed her plants.
During one section, Her Majesty made a joke about noisy helicopters sounding like former US President Donald Trump.
In 2013, Humphrys surprised the Queen again with an impromptu question about Prince Philip’s health when she visited the BBC.
At the time, the Duke had gone into hospital for exploratory surgery on his abdomen.
When Humphrys pushed for an update, the Queen responded: “I’ve no idea, he’s only just gone in.”
In an attempt to get her to reveal more details, he continued: “Well, he was looking well yesterday.”
The Queen responded: “That’s because he’s not ill.”
Despite the clashes between Humphrys and Her Majesty, he lavished her with praise for the work she has done for the nation.
The Queen has now reigned for 69 years – further cementing her title as the UK’s longest-serving monarch.
Humphrys said: “If this nation is united behind anything, it is that the Queen has done a pretty good job…
“She has scarcely put a foot wrong, respect and affection for her are at stratospheric levels.”
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