Television's magic moments

What are the biggest milestones in the history of British TV? From the coronation to Morecambe and Wise, there are plenty of contenders. But five key events stand out from the flickering light

Watching television is a habit that runs like a bass note through all our lives. Huge masts have been built on hilltops, aerials and satellite dishes have sprung up on roofs, roads have emptied of people and cars, pub tills have been silenced, the boiling of kettles has synchronised across the nation, and the same bluish-grey flicker has radiated through millions of front room windows – all because people were watching TV. And yet the history of this activity remains largely obscure. The relentless dailyness of television has meant that there has always been far too much of it to enter the sorting house of collective memory. Leafing through old copies of the Radio Times is a melancholy activity,
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Lance Armstrong v Oprah Winfrey: the confessional-interview guide

Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey is the latest in a line of TV confessionals, from Hugh Grant to Princess Diana. Mark Lawson offers some tips on making a big impression

The success of a broadcast interview used to be judged by publicity, ratings and subsequent awards at media prize-givings. But the impact of Peter Morgan's 2006 play Frost/Nixon, and the subsequent film adaptation, has set the bar much higher. After those high-profile dramatisations of David Frost's 1977 interviews with the only Us president forced to resign, interviewer Oprah Winfrey and interviewee Lance Armstrong could be forgiven for idly wondering – as they prepared for their encounter, to be broadcast on Thursday – if actors will one day be nominated for Tony and Oscar awards for playing them.

Certainly, the level of anticipation suggests that Winfrey-Armstrong may join Frost-Nixon on a list of key television confrontations, one that also includes
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Hugh Burnett obituary

Television producer who based his groundbreaking Face to Face interview series on his earlier radio show, Personal Call

The groundbreaking television interview series Face to Face, which ran on the BBC from 1959 to 1962 and gave insights into the thoughts and motivations of the famous, from Lord Hailsham to the pop singer Adam Faith, was the brainchild of the producer Hugh Burnett, who has died aged 87. Burnett based it on his earlier radio series Personal Call and chose the Labour MP turned Panorama presenter John Freeman as the interviewer subjecting those in the firing line to more rigorous questioning than they had experienced in earlier, more deferential days at the BBC.

The programme was distinctive for its black studio background and close-up shots of the interviewees, with Freeman seen only from behind. "Tighter! Tighter!" was the instruction Burnett – who also directed – barked at his camera operators, as he explained in the recent radio documentary Freeman's World.
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