tv Meet the Author BBC News November 9, 2017 8:45pm-9:01pm GMT
as we've been reporting — today marks the 20th anniversary of the bbc news channel. the station — which was then known as — bbc news 2a — launched at 6pm on the 9th of november 1997. earlier my colleague huw edwards spoke to the bbc‘s director general lord hall — who was the bbc‘s head of news when the channel was launched — he was asked why the bbc decided to introduce a rolling channel. it seems amazing to say it now, but actually 20 years ago, the notion of being their 2a hours a day and seven days a week was pushing boundaries. will there be an appetite for this? will anyone watch this? will it be repeating a lot of news? all of those things it take for granted, that you just turn on and you find out what has been happening. major stories happen and you find out what has been happening. but at that point the issue was, how will you fill 2a hours a day, seven days a week with news? that was the question we kept being asked. at the same time as bbc news 2a was being launched, we also launched bbc news online,
and again i remember people saying, what on earth is all this about? the world wide web online, who will use that? and you realise now what teams have done, starting with you and everybody, making this absolutely part of our lives. you cannot live without bbc news in the way we are now talking about it, or indeed bbc news online. it has added frankly, to people's use of the bbc. how much of a battle was it to convince colleagues that it was a worthwhile investment? it was a very big battle. to be honest, it was a battle both externally and internally. people were saying that all done, you are diverting resources, money or activity from what was then the nine o'clock news. into this new thing which no one will watch. it was a huge battle. but my belief then is my belief now, that had we not done that, we would not be giving our audiences the service that they will want and the way they wanted it.
i was saying back then, with slightly different coloured hair and glasses, that that message is the same one now. we have to be there when our audiences want to turn to us and i'm delighted to say that is why people come to bbc news. the headlines on bbc news: penny mordaunt has been appointed as the new international development secretary. she replaces priti patel who resigned last night over undeclared meetings with israeli officials. the first minister of wales, carwynjones defends his handling of misconduct allegations against carl sargeant, the labour politician who's thought to have taken his own life. the actor kevin spacey is being edited out of a completed film after a string of sexual harassment allegations against him. his scenes in "all the money in the world" will be re—shot with another actor. an update on the market numbers for you — here's how london's and frankfurt ended the day. and in the the united states this is how the dow
and the nasdaq are getting on. now it's time for meet the author. an old man with great power — he runs a media empire — sees his influence crumbling away. he's losing his grip, his family, perhaps even his sanity. what becomes of him? edward st aubyn‘s novel, dunbar, is a retelling of the story of king lear, as a contemporary novel. funny and melancholy by turns, the author of the celebrated series of novels about patrick melrose, is back on his favourite territory, dealing with a life touched and changed by tragedy. welcome. the inspiration for this story, the start of the novel in a way,
was the idea that you should take the king lear story and do something with it. now, is it easy to leave the thought of that fundamental story behind, and take off on your own? at first, i suffered from a "don't mess with the bard" angst, because i was in the face of a sort of monument of world literature, but i was asked to be inspired by shakespeare, not to be intimidated by him, and it's impossible not to be inspired by shakespeare. anyone writing in english is inspired by shakespeare. and in this case, a particular pretext in king lear, i found that quite soon i left the play behind, and became involved in the novel, and it was like all my novels, i wanted to write the next
sentence and the next scene. and you've got a central character, dunbar himself, who is a media mogul, an immensely powerful man, who sees everything slipping away. i mean, his power, but also his mind, and we are with him as he becomes entrapped, really, in a world in which he can no longer understand, in which he tries to exercise power. it's a very contemporary story, isn't it? yes, i wanted to find the modern analogue for a king, and it wasn't a king, obviously, or an elected politician, but someone who is part of the permafrost of power, the people who are there decade after decade, influencing decisions, and elections. and dunbar is such a person. but what the novel can do, that is very difficult for a play to do, except through monologues, is to show the interior life of a character, and there are no monologues in king lear, as against hamlet, who is always rushing front of stage to tell us
what he is thinking and feeling. lear can't do that because his whole problem is he has no self—knowledge. so characterising the mind of someone in that situation was a new opportunity. and characterising the mind when it is beginning to break up, in a way. i mean, he is losing it... yes. as we would say, and he's having conversations, particularly with peter in the place where he is, not exactly incarcerated, but living, that are, ones that don't make any sense any longer. they make sense to us by inference, but they are incoherent in themselves, yes. and peter is a professional comedian. he's terribly funny. he's also, unfortunately, an alcoholic. and in that sense i also departed from king lear, because i thought there should be
a fool who was funny, rather than a moralising monster. how much sympathy do you have for dunbar, because in many ways he is a grotesque character. you don't indicate any sympathy for the kind of power that he wielded or how he weilded it. on the other hand, there is human sympathy for someone who is not exactly cracking up but beginning to fail in the way that he is? the way in which his acquired power is repulsive, but we feel compassion for the way he's losing power, and it's also true that it's very difficult, as you get closer and closer to someone's mind and its workings, not to feel a growing leniency. and i suppose there's a feeling in this story, because of where it is set, and the fact he's starting to, you know, talk a fair bit of nonsense, although he's still got
some of his faculties, that we all feel that there but for the grace of god, or there is where we are bound to end up. so in that sense, you're confronting the reader with a real truth about our condition? yes. i think that's true. i think there is a huge contemporary dread of losing our minds before we lose our life, and having years of mindless life, and that is one of the great phenomena of our time. although i don't think that dunbar, or indeed lear was demented. i think if they have dementia as a proper constitutional condition, it weakens the tragedy, it weakens the possibility of recovery and self—knowledge, which he does acquire. he is temporally psychotic through pressure. and he escapes. but to what, we don't know. we don't know. what do you think he escapes to, any kind of redemption? is he going to be a less repulsive
individual in the way that he wields power after this experience or not? there has to be some redemption in order for tragedy to exist, because if there is nothing but absurdity, if it is just about the meaninglessness and bleakness... it is just walking in the dark. then it is absurd and absurd is not tragic. to be tragic, there has to be a gain in self—knowledge, a gain in understanding, a gain in understanding the nature of love, and the nature of power and how he's misspent his time. and then to be deprived of those insights, at inception, is tragic. if that's what happens. i'm not spoiling the book for you. no, we're not in the business of spoiling books. but that terrible moment, when you do have the ability to see inside yourself,
in a way that you haven't before, is one of the terrifying things that we all probably will face at some stage. absolutely, although some people have, are doomed to be introspective from quite an early age. but i agree with you that, that this is a story about someone having self—knowledge thrust upon them reluctantly, very late in life, when their circuitry is barely able to take the charge. when you finish this story about dunbar and his experience, and his wanderings and the bleakness of the fells, and then what happens at the end of the book, did you feel a sense of satisfaction about the way in which his life had found its course?
did it feel right? it did feel, it felt poignant to me. i was surprised by how fond i became of dunbar. you didn't set out wanting to become fond of him? itjust happened, in the course of describing what he went through. it became very poignant to me that he got a glimpse of something before he died, that he never would have seen without this immense stress and destruction in his life. and if we're lucky enough to get that, you're saying it is a very precious thing? it is. it is a jewel, yes. edward st aubyn, author of dunbar, thank you very much. thank you. quite a mixture of weather to say
the least. in any one day of the whole of this week it would seem. the south started cloudy and then it turned into a half decent day. where was more constant, not that you may have enjoyed it, is the north of scotla nd have enjoyed it, is the north of scotland where it was windy and a lot of showers and you get more of the saints night. we do see a change is further south with a frontal system bringing cloud and rain down eventually to england and wales. it doesn't get to that south—east until probably just that point when you are thinking about stepping out the door on friday. there comes a belt of weather, it is on the move and it went hang around. but it is that the law that says just when you need to be dry, that is when it will rain. it will move away sharpish because there is a north—westerly behind it. once that is a way then many other
places are in the rate of the day. the east will see more sunshine, north and west scotland will see more showers and northern ireland. we will see showers developing from the top end of the iris the down through the north of wales and greater manchester into the north midlands. but overall you get the sense that that is not a bad day. the temperatures in the south will feel pleasant. further north with the wind, it will feel fresh. to say the wind, it will feel fresh. to say the least. there is quite a bit of rain moving through northern ireland from friday into saturday. that cloud and rain is still there in southern parts of england as we start saturday and it takes a real time before the rightist guys get down to the midlands and east anglia. the cloud is rather sitting in the south. any compensation with
the temperatures rather than single figures in the north. sunday is remembrance day and that cold air eventually winds out. it comes in from scotland right across the british isles. the showers confined to the coast but there are a lot of ceremonies on remembrance sunday. they will be dry, crisp and chilly. if you are attending you will need a huge layers but not many of them will need to be waterproof. welcome to outside source. saudi arabia has told its citizens in lebanon to leave the country immediately, meanwhile, many lebanese feel their country is being dragged into a wider cold war between saudi arabia and iran. round six of "brexit" talks happened this week, with little progress having been made so far, we will speak with the bbc europe editor about what is the bbc europe editor about what is the main stumbling block. donald trump is in china, talking trade,