Interview with Sir Peter Ustinov, 1991
Here's one I discovered on a slightly battered cassette whilst sorting through my drawers on Christmas Eve and I thought, given the sentiments given by Sir Peter, it made a good seasonal offering from my archives. This interview was recorded in November 1991, on the day of his one-man show in Sheffield, UK, but broadcast as a Christmas 'special' the next month on BBC Radio Sheffield.
As hosts and producers of the biggest TV chat shows over at least four decades would agree, there's never a BAD time to interview Sir Peter, but that year was perhaps especially apt. It had seen the bloody consequences of the break-up of the Soviet Empire; Dubrovnik was being shelled; the former satellite states were demanding independent nationhood, and the aftershockS of the first Gulf War at the beginning of that year were still rebounding. With his internationalist, humanitarian beliefs, and his role as special ambassador to UNICEF, naturally he had a few things to say about these developments! More than that, he could - and frequently had - picked up the phone to world leaders, including Gorbachev, to try and help resolve conflicts. Indeed, is there anyone who wouldn't have taken his call? This is what gave Sir Peter such a unique position.
But it's not all high politics - naturally, we talk about his role as actor, director, writer and raconteur. This is someone who has won two Oscars, plus a huge trophy cupboard of other awards, including a Globe, Emmy, BAFTA and a Grammy! His range is from King Lear to Poirot and he's worked with many of the legends of Hollywood.
I was somewhat in awe and I feel privileged to have had about half an hour with him 'one to one'. A towering intellect, hugely talented in so many different fields, a great sense of humour and a deeply caring and sensitive man. I don't believe we shall - indeed, could - see his like again. Here's a link to one of his obits: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2004/mar/30/filmnews.film