Tag Archives: Norman Tebbit

Jenni Murray: the white chihuahua, her love of Crocs, and a long-lost Barnsley accent

The alternative highlights from Jenni Murray’s visit to Brighton yesterday evening:

(see the story on the Journalism.co.uk for the broadcasting-related quotes)

Murray, who turned 59 this week, and has presented BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour since 1987, read from her autobiography (‘Memoirs of a Not So Dutiful Daughter’) and answered questions from interviewer Simon Fanshawe and the audience for the Brighton Festival event.

Many of her anecdotes and references from the evening featured in this piece in the Brighton Argus, ahead of the event.

  • Her apology for her ‘dishevelled’ (she wasn’t) appearance, and dog-hair adorned outfit  – the result of a long car journey with her white chihuahua, Butch, on her lap. The chihuahua then sat on her publisher’s lap at the back of the theatre throughout the event.
  • The quick put-down to interviewer Simon Fanshawe when he mocked her Crocs (she swears by them): “I can change my shoes, you can never grow your hair.”
  • On her mother: Murray’s mother was quicker to criticise her daughter’s outfit than her abilities on TV. “I’d come off the programme [Newsnight] and the phone would ring. I’d say ‘what did you think of the interview with Norman Tebbit…'” Her mother would not have noticed the interview but say, ‘You know that red top you had on? You’ve quite high colour. Your eyes are your best feature, and your fringe is a bit long…’
  • On becoming her mother [at times]: “If I hadn’t pushed him [eldest son, Edward] to do the chemistry, the physics, the biology, he wouldn’t have made it [as a vet], would he?”
  • On her father: “No-one I have ever met has ever quite lived up to him.”
  • On elocution lessons: With a Barnsley accent ‘I wouldn’t have had a chance of being a broadcaster [at that time].’
  • On John Humphrys: “I taught him everything he knows. He had never done radio [before the Today programme].”
  • On not being a boy: “Really she [Murray’s mother] would have been much happier if I had been a boy.” Murray’s mother told her: ‘until you were born you were David Robert’. When Murray’s first son was born, she says, the proud grandmother arrived at the house, scooped the baby up and exclaimed, ‘at last my boy!’
  • On her changed taste in fashion: As a teenager, “my eye make-up [was] like Dusty Springfield’s, but I did take it off [at night]; she [Springfield] didn’t – she confirmed that when I met her.”