Hugh Purcell
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Sue MacGregor

Hugh Purcell talks to Sue MacGregor

A Very Private Celebrity: The Nine Lives of John Freeman

Friday 25 September 2015

1 Hour


Blenheim Palace: The Marlborough Room



Ticket price

Journalist, biographer and former television producer Hugh Purcell talks to radio presenter Sue MacGregor about the polymath and forensic television interviewer John Freeman who believed in changing his life – and his wife – every ten years. There will be clips from some of Freeman’s famous interviews, and stories, some never told before, about interviewees such as Carl Jung, Edith Sitwell, Augustus John and Evelyn Waugh.

Purcell had a long career in radio and television and travelled to California to interview Freeman in 1988 before the BBC repeated Freeman’s famous interview series Face to Face. It began a long fascination with the man who was at various stages of his life a University of Oxford student, a war hero, Member of Parliament, Government minister, television interviewer of celebrities, broadcast executive, Ambassador to the US and academic. Despite his celebrity, Freeman was notoriously private and interviewed his famous subjects with his back to the camera.

Freeman died at the end of last year, just short of his 100th birthday, and Purcell has now published A Very Private Celebrity: The Nine Lives of John Freeman, the result of ten years of trying to get to the bottom of Freeman’s enigmatic life and personality.

MacGregor is best known for her work presenting Woman’s Hour and the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4. In 2013, she presented a radio programme that looked back at archive recordings of Freeman’s Face to Face interviews.

Sponsored by HSBC.