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Richard Lutz’s Blog

THE DEATH OF A CHILD ON TELLY

15-02-2010

Richard Lutz peeks behind the scenes of what probably happened in the run up to Gordon Brown’s TV revelations about his personal life.

Much as I hate to broach the subject: let’s talk about an infant’s death.

I didn’t raise it. The Prime Minister did when he referred to the sad death of his tiny child. It was emotive, sad, indescribable.

But it was described. On tv. And you’d have to be born on the planet Neptune if you thought it emerged suddenly from the gut of his long term grief.

The build up, in the world of tv, probably went something like this and I don’t mean to be flippant or cutesy when I explain what I used to do to ensure what I wanted on the box, as a tv professional, actually happened.

As with the phrase, ‘Don’t ask a question if you don’t know the answer,’ there is an equal phrase in tv: ‘Don’t arrange an interview if you don’t know what the target will say.’

TV contacted Downing Street or maybe even the other way around. Brown’s people saw Piers Morgan as a friendly face, one that wouldn’t stitch him up. No Paxman or Humphrys here.

After all Morgan is the mug who, as Daily Mirror editor, was responsible for splashing fake Iraq brutality pictures on his front page. And when they were proved to be a jack up, had the effrontery to say it was OK to lie to the public. Kind of like Blair in a way. He cleared his desk soon after.

So, Downing Street, the Labour Party and the Brown family knew what they were getting.

Morgan’s production team may have - I say, may have - said: ‘Look no interview unless Gordon gets personal.’

Gordon’s team probably asked: ‘What do you mean by personal?’

And well, personal unfortunately means talking about the worst day of his life, when he held his dying daughter in his hands.

If we don’t get personal intimacy like that, the team would have said, no interview.

The two sides would have hashed it out. Just like I used to. You will ask this, I will say this. You will not ask this, OK I promise not to ask this.

Both sides will leave the pre meeting convinced it controls the territory.

Gordon would have sighed a deep well of sadness and succumbed. For what reason, I can only guess.

Morgan would have known his tv contracts rates will go even higher because the backroom boys and girls would have secured a Prime Minister talking about the grief stricken private moments that scar a person forever.

Nothing is left to surprise, instant revelation or real insight. It is done on professional nods and winks in an office, a café, a conference room.

Both sides stick to the arrangement because both sides know if they jerk each other around and don’t play ball, access will forever be denied - to either the high level politician or the high profile tv programme.

That’s the way it’s done. And it’s all about this terrible death nine years ago of Mr Brown’s child.

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